Iran World Heritage Sites Have Poor Online Presence

There is no support within ICHHTO to set up online portals for Iran's 22 world heritage sites
The country's abysmal online presence hardly reflects the global status of Iran's 22 world heritage sites.The country's abysmal online presence hardly reflects the global status of Iran's 22 world heritage sites.

Iran's first three world heritage sites were inscribed by UNESCO in 1979. Thirty-eight years and 19 inscriptions later, not a single one of those sites has an acceptable website.

Iran's 22 world heritage sites rank 11th worldwide and first in the Middle East, but the country's abysmal online presence hardly reflects its global status. Even though four years ago, cultural heritage officials talked of remedying the situation, little has changed.

Farhad Azizi, director of the Office for World Heritage Affairs at Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, concedes that the organization has failed its task, Mehr News Agency reported.

"I've always stressed the importance of fixing the websites of our world heritage sites and initiated the paperwork to make it happen when I took office. Unfortunately, the process has been stuck in the organization's IT department," he said.

Azizi said "there is no support" within the organization, because of which his office suggested outsourcing the project.

"But we were stopped from doing that," he said, without naming anyone.

This is not to say that there is no information on Iran's world heritage sites online. A quick search on Google will return ample results but the scattered information about Iran's world heritage sites may be unverified, incomplete, or plain wrong.

To add insult to injury, ICHHTO's own website has very little information on Iran's cultural heritage sites, the bulk of which are in Persian.

Naqsh-e-Jahan Square in Isfahan Province, the ruins of Persepolis in Fars Province and  the temple of Chogha Zanbil in Khuzestan Province were all inscribed in 1979 as Iran's first world heritage sites.

The historical city of Yazd is the latest Iranian site to receive UNESCO's recognition and inscription.

By the end of the decade, Iran intends to inscribe four more sites on the coveted World Heritage List.

Next year, Iran hopes to inscribe the incredibly biodiverse Arasbaran Forest in East Azarbaijan Province, along with three cities in Fars Province collectively known as the Ensemble of Historical Sassanian Cities, comprising Bishapour, Firouzabad and Sarvestan.

In 2019, the Caspian Hyrcanian forests, which line the southern shores of the Caspian Sea in northern Iran, will vie for a place on the list, and officials are preparing the dossier for the ancient city of Meybod in Yazd Province for inscription in 2020.


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