By Wassim Bassem for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.*
The Karbala Provincial Council announced March 3 the formation of a committee to follow up on the issue of adding the city — which is home to about 300 archaeological sites — to the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites.
The Fortress of al-Ukhaidir (built in 778) was included on the UNESCO agenda during a July 2016 meeting. The site, however, did not meet all the conditions and was not considered for the list.
The council also hopes to include*Caesar’s Church, which is located 70 kilometers (43 miles) from Karbala, to the list of World Heritage sites*since it is the oldest eastern church in history.
It was built in the fifth century,*more than 120 years before the emergence of Islam. Today, the church is considered of exceptional importance as it represents a Christian landmark, and promotes*shared living and cultural coexistence in an Islamic milieu.
The council also seeks to add to the list*al-Tar Caves,*located 45 kilometers (27 miles) southwest of Karbala. These rocky formations date back to 1300 B.C.*and are believed to have served as a passage for people who used to roam the Iraqi desert heading toward*neighboring countries.
Khan al-Utaishi*is also nominated for*the list of World Heritage sites. It is one of the many archaeological khans, such as Khan al-Nakheel and Khan al-Rabeh. It was established during the*Ottoman rule*in Iraq (1532-1918) and served as a rest house for travelers from Baghdad and Karbala*all the way to Najaf,*160 kilometers (99 miles)*south of Baghdad.
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