More than twenty percent of the world’s surface is a desert and the desertification process is going further. It needs global strategies to protect archaeological, historic and natural sites in the desert with outstanding values. UNESCO has started to focus more on the natural sites – on desert landscapes and oases. They have listed the oases settlements in Oman and their water supply system – the Aflaj system as a world cultural heritage site since 2006.
In the oases the main resources for existence have been water and cultivable terrain for agriculture, which has to be guaranteed to all inhabitants over many generations. The oasis could be a model of human settlement that is able to create conditions to life in extreme situation, thanks to appropriate use of limited local resources and strong community links. This kind of sustainable development will be lost in the rapid transformation process of urbanization and globalization. The economic and social base and within the architecture, the urban structure and the unmistakable identity of the cultural landscape will be changed.
The cultural heritage is in danger and sometimes it can be only preserved as documentation. This was one of the main objectives of an interdisciplinary research project where the Institute of Urbanism / University of Stuttgart was involved. The content of the lecture will be the presentation of the results of the comprehensive surveys of two sections in the northern part of Oman which have been selected for the researches. Both sections are divided into a coastal zone, a mountainous area and an arid interior area. In these different zones oases of various sizes and ranking, with different topography, altitudes and settlement history have been documented in different scales. It could be one aspect to develop future innovative sustainable planning strategies as well as global strategies to protect archaeological, historic and natural sites in the desert.
The professional background of Anette Gangler includes experience in structural and urban planning in Germany and in the Middle East (Syria, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Oman). In teaching, research and practice in cooperation with interdisciplinary and international institutions as well as with academic and municipal institutions she has worked in different, complex social environments. The recording of the transformation of historic city structures of many urban centers from Central Asia to North Africa designated by UNESCO as cultural heritage of the world, are the subject matter of larger research and revitalization projects and are published in several articles, books and exhibitions.
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