1.         Abu Mena (Egypt) (C 90)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1979

Criteria  (iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2001-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1279

Corrective measures identified

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1279

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1279

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/90/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2001-2014)
Total amount approved: USD 7,000
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/90/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

2002: Expert mission; 2005, 2009 and 2012: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring missions.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/90/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 29 January 2016, the State Party of Egypt submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/90/documents/, providing the following information:

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

The report from the State Party indicates that despite the establishment of the permanent Committee for the Antiquities in Alexandria, and efforts by the Ministry of Antiquities, there has been no significant implementation of the corrective measures and actions to safeguard and conserve the OUV of the property due to the lack of financial resources.

The State Party has not provided information or updated the status of a number of matters previously raised by the World Heritage Committee, including:

The digital map of the property and its buffer zone submitted by the State Party has not been done in conformity with Annex 11 of the Operational Guidelines. The proposed shift in focus from monuments and significant buildings to a more-holistic approach that takes into consideration all the attributes of the property, which contribute to the preservation of its OUV is welcomed. However, in accordance with the corrective measures adopted by the Committee, this approach needs to be presented in the comprehensive Conservation and Management Plans.

The State Party report shows that the issue of the rising water table in the property has not yet been addressed. The saturation of the lower archaeological layers by water from the surrounding reclamation/irrigation project was the main reason the property was put in the Danger List in 2001 and tackling it remains a key corrective measure. The initial response was de-watering by means of pumps. The 2012 Reactive Monitoring mission acknowledged that the methodology of electrical pumping was unsustainable in the long term and proposed that the underlying causes needed to be addressed through a project to modify the irrigation methodology to one using a “drip” method.

It remains extremely urgent to undertake analysis of ways to address the underlying causes of the rising water table, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Irrigation. In the framework of the overall Conservation Plan, adequate expertise should be identified and recruited to carry out studies to elaborate a project to tackle the cause of the rising water table, and to define the appropriate mitigation measures for the archaeological remains once the water table has been lowered and stabilized.

Although the newly-established permanent committee has identified urgent, secondary and long-term solutions for the archaeological site, and the Ministry of Antiquities with the Abu Mena Monastery administration prepared a proposal project for restoration and rehabilitation, it is crucial to first complete all necessary analyses and studies, prior to engaging in any physical works. 

Given the above, it is considered that the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) has not been met and the required corrective measures have yet to be implemented.

Decision Adopted: 40 COM 7A.9

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examinedDocument WHC/16/40.COM/7A,
  2. RecallingDecisions 38 COM 7A.1 and 39 COM 7A.24, adopted at its 38th (Doha, 2014) and 39th (Bonn, 2015) sessions respectively,
  3. Notes that encroachments by local communities have been removed from the property and buffer zone;
  4. Expresses its great concern regarding the state of conservation of the property and the implementation level of the recommended corrective measures;
  5. Takes note that the State Party will start the elaboration of a comprehensive and integrated Management Plan for the property in 2017;
  6. Urges the State Party to resume the implementation of the corrective measures, to protect and conserve the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, with particular attention to the following issues:
    1. Prepare a conservation plan for the property, which includes a condition survey and the identification of priority interventions to ensure stabilization of archaeological remains,
    2. Initiate consultations with stakeholders including local communities to develop a programme for the removal of inadequate new constructions and the creation of facilities to allow for religious uses in areas outside the boundaries of the property and its buffer zone;
  7. Also urgesthe State Party, and in particular its Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Irrigation, to undertake an analysis of ways to address the underlying causes of the rising water table and elaborate a project to address those causes as well as mitigation measures for the archaeological remains once the water table has been lowered and stabilized;
  8. Requests the World Heritage Centre to assist the State Party in providing adequate expertise thereon, and suggests that the State Party might consider inviting a technical Advisory mission to the property, to be paid for by the State Party, to provide advice on appropriate irrigation and water management technologies;
  9. Also requeststhe State Party to submit a revised modification of the boundaries of both the property and buffer zone, in accordance with Paragraphs 163-165 of the Operational Guidelines, for examination by the World Heritage Committee;
  10. Further requeststhe State Party to submit, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, details of all on-going or planned restoration interventions at the property, particularly those at the Great Basilica, the reburial strategy, and visitor centre project, as well as initiatives arising from the project for restoration and rehabilitation of the property prepared by the Ministry of Antiquities and the Abu Mena Monastery administration, for review prior to implementation, such details to include Heritage Impact Assessments (HIA);
  11. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017;
  12. Decides to retain Abu Mena (Egypt) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 40 COM 8C.2

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/16/40.COM/7A, WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add and WHC/16/40.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: