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These are 2018's additions for the UNESCO World Heritage List

These are 2018's additions for the UNESCO World Heritage List
Posted at 4:51 AM, Jul 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-02 06:51:01-04

Incredible natural beauty, amazing archaeological treasures, historic cityscape -- what makes a destination worthy of UNESCO World Heritage status?

A stunning selection of must-see spots are among the 2018 nominees to join the extensive list of World Heritage properties.

Currently in session in Manama, Bahrain, UNESCO's World Heritage Committee is debating which sites to add to its catalog.

So far, the Ancient City of Qalhat in Oman, known for its incredible archaeological remains, is among the sites already awarded World Heritage Status. So has Al-Ahsa Oasis, an evolving cultural landscape in Saudi Arabia, and Kenya's Thimlich Ohinga archaeological site.

Nominees still to be debated include the funeral and memorial sites of World War I in Belgium and France and -- one for fizz fans -- the beautiful Prosecco Hills of Italy's Conegliano and Valdobbiadene areas.

Amazing destinations

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee meets annually to review additions to the list, which must be deemed of "outstanding universal value" to warrant inclusion. Representatives from 21 countries assess the options.

The first list was published in 1978 and included Yellowstone National Park in the United States and the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador.

Four decades later, UNESCO World Heritage status is highly coveted among tourist destinations across the world, often credited with bringing in more visitors.

This year's additions fall into different categories. Some are cultural properties such as the Caliphate City of Medina Azahara, a palatial city built in the 10th century near Cordoba, Spain. This one-time Arab Muslim medieval town is now a collection of vast, beautiful ruins.

Natural sites have also made the cut. These include South Africa's Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains and the awe-inspiring Fanjingshan mountain in China.

Movers and shakers

UNESCO is expected to conclude its deliberations by July 4, meantime there have been other revelations coming out of Bahrain.

The Committee decided to remove the world's second largest coral reef, the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve system, from the UNESCO List of World Heritage in Danger.

The reef has been on the list for the past nine years, but after what UNESCO calls a "visionary" plan by the government of Belize, it's deemed no longer in extreme peril.

"Today's removal of the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System from the List of World Heritage in Danger is a pivotal moment for the World Heritage Convention and the oceans," said Mechtild Rossler, director of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, in a statement.

2018 nominees

Here's the list of destinations being debated in 2018. For live updates as decisions are made, keep an eye on UNESCO's Twitter feed:

Denmark: Aasivissuit -- Nipisat. Inuit Hunting Ground between Ice and Sea -- CONFIRMED

Saudi Arabia: Al-Ahsa Oasis, an evolving Cultural Landscape -- CONFIRMED

Oman: Ancient City of Qalhat -- CONFIRMED

Spain: Caiphate City of Medina Azahara -- CONFIRMED

Belgium, Netherlands: Colonies of Benevolence

Belgium, France: Funeral and memorial sites of the First World War (Western Front)

Turkey: Göbekli Tepe -- CONFIRMED

Japan: Hidden Christian Sites in the Nagasaki Region -- CONFIRMED

China: Historic Monuments and Sites of Ancient Quanzhou (Zayton)

Italy: Ivrea, industrial city of the 20th century -- CONFIRMED

Italy: Le Colline del Prosecco di Conegliano a Valdobbiadene

Germany: Naumburg Cathedral -- CONFIRMED

Romania: Roșia Montană Mining Landscape

Republic of Korea: Sansa, Buddhist Mountain Monasteries in Korea -- CONFIRMED

Iran: Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars Region -- CONFIRMED

Germany: The Archaeological Border Landscape of Hedeby and the Danevirke -- CONFIRMED

France: The Historic Urban Ensemble of Nîmes

Kenya: Thimlich Ohinga Archaeological Site -- CONFIRMED

India: Victorian and Art Deco Ensemble of Mumbai -- CONFIRMED

Czech Republic: Žatec -- the Town of Hops

Iran: Arasbaran Protected Area

South Africa: Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains -- CONFIRMED

France: Chaine des Puys - Limagne fault tectonic arena -- CONFIRMED

China: Fanjingshan -- CONFIRMED

Colombia: Chiribiquete National Park -- "The Maloca of the Jaguar" -- CONFIRMED

Canada: Pimachiowin Aki -- CONFIRMED

Mexico: Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley: originary habitat of Mesoamerica -- CONFIRMED

Russia: Bikin River Valley -- CONFIRMED