Challenges to Siraf Global Inscription

Challenges to Siraf Global Inscription
Challenges to Siraf Global Inscription

According to a proposal by Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization to inscribe the historical port of Siraf on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, parts of the population of the town will have to  be relocated.

The project is an attempt to complete Siraf’s dossier for inscription and trespassing national historical property for settlement is one of the main challenges hindering the move, said Mohammad Ebrahim Forouzani, head of the provincial office of ICHHTO in Bushehr, Mana news agency reported.

To be enlisted on the coveted list, the exact boundaries of all historical places in Siraf must be established. Nevertheless, with the growth of population and the expansion of urban spaces in Siraf, many houses have been built illegally within the territory of the historical heritage sites.  

At a recent meeting attended by the cultural heritage deputy of ICHHTO, representatives of the High Council of Urban Development and the Oil Ministry, the ICHHTO proposed the population transfer as a way to remove the main hurdle.

The project involves evacuating residents from historical areas and resettling them in adjacent counties. “Although a massive undertaking, it can and should be possible and practical should all relevant bodies cooperate,” said Forouzani.

The plan will also reduce the population of the port and ease completion of the Siraf dossier to a great extent as it will minimize the chances of recurrent trespass.  

Referring to the plan as a “national move” the official said that it is an intersectoral project and requires the cooperation of several organizations, namely the ministries of oil and road/urban development, the ICHHTO, the municipality and city council.

Another major challenge facing the inscription of the port city is that the entire port and the surrounding areas are owned by the Oil Ministry. Forouzani urged the ministry to help settle the issue.    


The ancient port, often called Bandar Taheri is located 220 km southeast of Bushehr and 380 km west of Bandar Abbas.

Siraf is noted for its many historical sites dating back to the Parthian eras. Archeological evidence suggests that the port was much larger before parts of it submerged allegedly as a result of earthquakes. There are remains from the Parthian and Sassanid eras not far from the city. There are also ruins of luxurious houses of rich traders who made their wealth when the port flourished.

Siraf was one of the most successful ports in the world, a picture of wealth and activity during ancient times similar to Hong Kong, Venice, and Boston later on, says British archaeologist David Whitehouse, one of the first archaeologists who excavated the ancient ruins in 1970s.

The historical port was the main marine trade route during pre-Islamic era and the first four centuries following the advent of Islam. Marine trade between the Persian Gulf and Far East lands began to flourish at this port because of the vast expansion of trade in consumer goods and luxury items at the time. Over time, the trade routes shifted to the Red Sea, and Siraf withdrew to background before it was destroyed around 970 AD.

Listing on the World Heritage Site is a title that is given to the locations, which have outstanding universal value to all of humanity, according to the UNESCO description.