1.         Memphis and its Necropolis – the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur (Egypt) (C 86)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1979

Criteria  (i)(iii)(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/86/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1991-1995)
Total amount approved: USD 81,450
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/86/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: USD 100,000 for the Sphinx of Giza, Special Account for the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of Egypt: USD 2,203,304 dollars for the development of the management plans for the World Heritage sites of Historic Cairo, Memphis and Luxor

Previous monitoring missions

1993, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2001, November 2014: joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission, July 2015: ICOMOS Advisory mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/86/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 29 January 2015, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report on the property, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/86/documents, as a response to the World Heritage Committee’s Decision 31 COM 7B.61.

The report provides information about conservation and development projects for the archaeological sites on the Giza Plateau and in the Saqarra and Mit Rahina areas, including a list of the national institutions and international organizations involved.

Due to the unrest of 2011 and financial constraints, the implementation of projects has been delayed and conservation activities and excavation works have stopped, giving priority to the protection of archeological sites and related storages.

Conservation was resumed slowly in 2012-2013, and the Ministry of Antiquities had to face the issue of illegal constructions that emerged during the period of unrest. As the situation stabilized in 2014, development projects for the enhancement and protection of the property resumed and committees have been established for their implementation.

Finally, the report indicates that the management plan for the entire site should be sent to the World Heritage Centre in 2016.

Due to longstanding and evolving major urban growth issues in the Cairo Megalopolis, the State Party invited an ICOMOS Advisory mission between 27 and 30 July 2015, to address the protection of the property in the face of development pressures, the growing traffic around the property, and to examine alternative solutions. The report of the Advisory mission is accessible at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/86/documents.

Some of the issues considered by the mission date back to the beginning of the 1990s, when urban encroachment had taken place and construction works had been begun to connect the Cairo Ring Road to the south of the Giza Plateau with a road across the World Heritage property. In 1995, the project was halted as a result of local pressure and in response to the recommendation 19 BUR VI.22 of the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee (Berlin, 1995). In 1998, an Agreement signed between UNESCO and the Egyptian Government, reaffirmed the importance of preventing any encroachment upon the property, including from highways, roads, water supply pipes and buildings. In 2001, a World Heritage Centre mission reported that uncontrolled urban encroachment and the potential resumption of the Ring Road were threatening the integrity of the site.

This issue has been subject to reporting at several Committee sessions in 1998, 1999, 2002 and 2005. At the 31st session of the World Heritage Committee (Christchurch, 2007), the State Party announced the reactivation of the Ring Road project to cross the Pyramid Plateau in the property; the World Heritage Committee reiterated “its previous decisions requesting the abandonment of the Ring Road project, tunnel or trench, crossing the Pyramid Plateau of Giza” and requested “the State Party to officially confirm this cancellation” (Decision 31 COM 7B.61).

In addition, on 12 April, the State Party submitted a document entitled Ring road (Mansouria Axis, - Cairo Fayoum) that provides the General layout of an open tunnel. On 29 March 2016, it submitted a technical report on the impact on the air quality of the Plateau Area for the proposed construction across the property of a 6 kilometre, eight lane, road cutting (referred to as an open tunnel) called the Mansouria Axis – Cairo Fayoum Ring road. It concluded that although current air pollution is below limits established by law, the construction of the proposed road cutting would further decrease concentration of air pollutants.

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

The delays in the implementation of conservation projects and the preparation of a Management Plan for the property have hindered the efficacy of measures for holistic conservation of the property and its setting.

The mission examined in detail the urban encroachment and traffic growth in the Cairo Megalopolis and the related future prospects. It noted that the alternative routes to the Ring Road, which were recommended by the World Heritage Committee in 1995 (namely through the Maryoutiyah and Mansouriyah canals), as well as an alternative motorway bypass to the north of the Giza Plateau, linking the existing Ring Road, the 6th of October City and the road to Alexandria, have been implemented by the State Party. However, they are no longer sufficient to address the fast-growing traffic volume.

The State Party informed the mission about urban development plans, the potential evolution of traffic in the larger area surrounding the property, and several urban and traffic projects such as the metro. The State Party requested the mission to reconsider the former Ring Road project in view of the growing development pressures in the Cairo Megalopolis; moreover, it informed the mission that the Ring Road would allow access to the Great Egyptian Museum and the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC), currently under construction.

After discussion with the Egyptian authorities, the mission produced the following recommendations which were discussed with the State Party on site:

It is acknowledged that the State Party is seeking a viable solution that protects the property, while addressing the uncontrolled growing development pressure in the Cairo Megalopolis. However, an informed World Heritage Committee decision on the issue of traffic management and urban growth of the area can only be taken if the State Party provides the following documents, for review by the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, before any works are approved:

The air quality report for the proposed 6 km, eight land, road cutting (referred to as an open tunnel) called the Mansouris Axis – Cairo Fayoum Ring road was submitted without any further details of the project across the property to which it referred. It is understood that the State Party intends to provide further details in the near future. The World Heritage Committee might like to acknowledge that the proposals for an open road cutting across the property are not in line with the recommendations of the mission which were discussed with the State Party on site.

Moreover, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, it is recommended that the Committee remind the State Party to inform the World Heritage Centre of any proposed urban and architectural developments surrounding the Giza Plateau that could potentially affect the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property.

Decision Adopted: 40 COM 7B.22

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 28 COM 15B.50, 29 COM 7B.45 and 31 COM 7B.61, adopted at its 28th (Suzhou, 2004), 29th (Durban, 2005) and 31st (Christchurch, 2007) sessions respectively,
  3. Notes the delays in the implementation of conservation projects at the property, and the State Party's intention to submit shortly a Management Plan for the property; and urges the State Party to submit a detailed, integrated Management Plan taking into account the July 2015 ICOMOS Advisory mission recommendations;
  4. Also urges the State Party to complete the Retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) for the property for examination by the World Heritage Committee;
  5. Further urges the State Party to define the buffer zone for the property and submit a Minor Boundary Modification proposal, in accordance to Paragraph 164 and Annex 11 of the Operational Guidelines, and define the immediate and wider setting to further protect the integrity of the property;
  6. Requests the State Party to remove the fill materials from the World Heritage property and refrain from further use of the property for solid waste purposes;
  7. Takes notes with great concern of the rapid and intense urban growth of the Cairo Megalopolis and its related urban encroachment and traffic pressure that affect the property;
  8. Also takes note that the alternative routes to the Ring Road to the North of the Giza Plateau and through the Maryoutiyah and Mansouriyah canals, developed by the State Party as recommended by the World Heritage Committee at its 19th session (Berlin, 1995), are no longer sufficient to address the traffic needs of the area surrounding the property, and that the State Party is seeking a viable traffic solution protecting the property while addressing the growing development pressures in the Cairo Megalopolis;
  9. Further takes note of the recommendations of the ICOMOS Advisory mission, that an underground tunnel is the only acceptable solution for a road crossing the property, and requests the State Party, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, and before any irreversible decisions on road projects are made, the following documents:
    1. a detailed traffic management study and plan of the area,
    2. any projects for an underground tunnel inside the property or other road projects in its vicinity,
    3. a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) for all of the above, including remote sensing and physical investigations of potential archaeological remains;
  10. Notes the document on the proposed road cutting (referred to as an open tunnel) called the Mansouris Axis – Cairo Fayoum Ring road, and the related air quality report, submitted by the State Party, and acknowledges that proposals for an open road cutting across the property are not in line with the recommendations of the mission, as discussed with the State Party on site, and could have a major, irreversible adverse impact on the OUV of the property;
  11. Also requests the State Party to provide information of urban or architectural developments that could potentially affect the OUV of the property, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  12. Further requests 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.