Dubai: The UAE bid for six sites in the country to be given Unesco World Heritage status has stepped up a gear with a special workshop for staff working on the bid.

The National Council for Tourism and Antiquities held the workshop on Wednesday to train supervisors on how to prepare and file applications for the preliminary list of six cultural and natural sites, to be submitted by the UAE to Unesco in the second phase of the nomination process.

The list of sites, which has already been approved by Unesco for nomination for World Heritage status in the first phase of the process, includes the Settlement and Cemetery of Umm an-Nar Island, Sir Bu Nair Island, Khor Dubai, Ed-Dur Site, the Cultural Landscape of the Central Region in the Emirate of Sharjah, and Al Bidya Mosque.

The sites must meet at least one out of 10 selection criteria set by Unesco in order to be included on the World Heritage List.

The concept behind the World Heritage sites was embodied in an international treaty adopted by Unesco in 1972 in order to encourage the protection of cultural and natural heritage sites around the world.

World Heritage status protects universal natural and cultural heritage sites from the increasing threat of destruction whether by natural decay or through the changing social and economic conditions taking place around the world.

Criteria for the status includes the site being an architectural or technological landscape which illustrates a significant stage in human history.

Following the submission of the list, a committee of specialists from the UAE held several meetings over the past six months which resulted in determining the nomination dates for three out of the six sites for phase two.

Khor Dubai is due to be nominated in 2014, the Ed-Dur site in 2016 and the Cultural Landscape of the Central Region in the Emirate of Sharjah in 2017.

For the other three sites that form part of the bid, no dates have as yet been formalised.

The two-day workshop was organised under the patronage of Abdul Rahman Al Owais, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Council for Tourism and Antiquities.

During the workshop a number of experts from outside and within the country trained a national team on how to prepare nomination files to the World Heritage Committee.

The director of the International Centre for Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property in Sharjah, Dr Zaki Aslan, also presented the foundations and principles on how to nominate cultural and natural sites.

Dr Aslan also stressed the importance of cooperating with experts and specialists in this area to support the state’s file, stating that the UAE has full qualifications like the rest of the world to run in the World Heritage List.

The director general of the National Council for Tourism and Antiquities Mohammad Khamis Al Muhairi said the inclusion of the UAE’s archaeological and heritage sites in the World Heritage list reinforces the UAE’s opportunities in preserving, conserving and restoring them within international standards that are set by Unesco.

Participation will ensure its chances at being exposed and marketed worldwide and ultimately put on the global tourist map.