1.         Saint Catherine Area (Egypt) (C 954)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2002

Criteria  (i)(iii)(iv)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/954/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1999-1999)
Total amount approved: USD 19,500
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/954/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions


Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Visitors management

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/954/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2004

The World Heritage Committee, at its 26th session, invited the State Party to submit a progress report on the preparation of a visitor-management plan for the monastery and on the implementation of the 1998 sustainable development plan (SDP) for the town of St Catherine.


On 5 March 2004, the Secretariat received from the State Party a progress report on the actions taken for the conservation of the property, dated 25 January 2004. This report provides information on the numerous and positive actions undertaken by the Saint Catherine Protectorate, Nature Conservation Sector (NCS), the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA), the City Council and the Supreme Council of Antiquities for the management of the property, regarding both the landscape and archaeological values. Those actions, focused particularly on the tourist infrastructure, include the building and furnishing of a Visitor Centre at a distance of 1 km from the Monastery with an organized parking area; the establishment of a First Aid Unit and training of its staff; the building of restrooms in Gebel Musa as well as the installation of several water points; and the publication of trail guides in three languages (Arabic, English, German). On the other hand, much work has been done for the overall maintenance of the site, including the arrangement of trails to Gebel Musa and Abu Geefa; the removal of garbage at Gebel Musa as well as in several wadis; rehabilitation works as well as archaeological excavations within the Monastery.


ICOMOS congratulates the State Party for the effective actions undertaken for the presentation and conservation of the site, as well as for the creation of an Environment and Water Surfaces Police, which is essential to actively control the impact of the increased number of visitors on the natural resources. However, it strongly recommends moving the control point, presently installed at the Holy Summit, to the lower and wider Prophet Elijah plateau, together with the cafeteria, shops and accommodation facilities. ICOMOS moreover, recalling its proposal made at the time of the inscription of the property, believes that the conservation of the site would greatly benefit from designating the Holy Summit as a protected archaeological area.


As far as the Monastery is concerned, ICOMOS underlines that the works undertaken to secure good living conditions for the monks' community and contribute to the better organization of the visitors' circulation, are likely to bring to light some unexplored areas within the Monastery. ICOMOS believes therefore that the Ministry of Culture and the Monastery Authorities should continue cooperating for the implementation of those works. It also encourages the State Party to set up a control gate to monitor the number of tourists within the Monastery. In addition, ICOMOS suggests completing and properly presenting the archaeological excavations on the outer eastern side of the monastery grounds, which are a testimony to the first phase of the monastic community, before the erection of the Monastery.


Finally, ICOMOS reiterates the need to ensure that important decisions having an impact on the conservation of the property be always taken through a process of wide consultation involving all the relevant institutions.

ICOMOS considered that the report submitted by the State Party did not provide sufficient information on the implementation of the 1998 Sustainable Development Plan (SDP) for the town of Saint Catherine, as requested by the Committee at its 26th session. In this regard, ICOMOS expresses its concern on the availability of adequate financing for the SDP and on the transfer of the Saint Catherine City to a new area.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM


Decision Adopted: 28 COM 15B.51

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Commends the State Party for the progress achieved in the conservation of the property;

2. Notes that, while a number of positive steps have been undertaken to improve the visitor management at the property, an actual Visitor Management Plan has
not yet been prepared by the State Party;

3. Requests the State Party to formalize, in a comprehensive document, a Plan for the Visitor Management at the property and submit it to the World Heritage Centre;

4. Further requests the State Party to strengthen its efforts on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Plan, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre, particularly concerning the rehabilitation of the old city, and the planning of the new Saint Catherine City.