In accordance with the World Heritage Committee’s request at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006), the State Party submitted on 29 January 2008 a report providing information on the conservation and management of the property. A notable improvement was indicated in the state of conservation of the Mellah Quarter. The report made mention of « clean-up operations and the demolition of buildings threatening collapse. » The inhabitants were relodged. The streets and alleys of the quarter were paved as well as a five-metre strip along the intramuros ramparts.
The Essaouira Urban Agency was recently created. Together with other ministerial institutions and services, it should facilitate the coordination of efforts and follow the progress and implementation of construction projects already in progress or foreseen. The elaboration of a management plan is underway.
A recent study was undertaken by the Ministry of Housing and Urbanism, entitled: « Study and identification of the type of intervention for the rehabilitation of the Medina of Essaouira using houses threatening collapse and re-use of dilapidated sites. » The study was submitted to the different services concerned for suggestions and approval. The main comments are listed below :
a) Safeguarding the security of citizens : consolidation of the wall, intervention regarding the buildings threatening collapse;
b) Improvement of the living conditions of the inhabitants: dedensification (operation underway), opening up of the closed passages (between Koweit Street and Quaraouiyne Street), opening of a passage at the end of the Kaouss cul-de-sac (between Mellah Street and Zerktouni Avenue) and opening of the access to the Artists’ Square and the ocean;
c) Improvement of facilities and infrastructures, improvement of visitor centres : paving, lighting, clean-up operations, etc.;
d) Enhancement of the heritage and rehabilitation of places of memory : such as the restoration of the Haïm Pinto Synagogue, and the restoration of the Menzah Pavillion that is part of the Dar el Makhzen complex (Royal Palace).
The cleaning up operation and consolidation was carried out during 2007. It concentrated on the areas immediately surrounding the Mellah quarter, especially the ramparts on the Atlantic side.
In the framework of the improvement of the visitor centre and enhancement of the ramparts, the shops that were located along the ramparts (buffer zone, at the level of Bab Doukkala) were relocated. This operation has permitted access to the beach and reconciled the traditional urban tissue with the maritime seascape.
The Borj de Bab Marrakech is undergoing restoration. A cultural polyfunctional area for artists is intended to be located here.
The Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah Museum, situated in the Kasbah quarter was rehabilitated and equipped.
According to the report of the State Party, the state of conservation of the property has much improved thanks to the joint efforts of private individuals (houses restored), services concerned with the conservation and the enhancement of the Medina and local authorities (repair of the waste water system).
However, the report indicates the construction of a café-restaurant in the north-west part of the Place Moulay Hassan. This project had obtained the necessary authorizations when it was implemented a decade ago. At present there is a legal dispute opposing the owner with the local authorities. The administrative tribunal ruled in favour of the contractor. The location of the building opposite the sea risks changing the maritime seascape.
The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies wish to recall that any demolition and any intervention on the property must be preceded by an overall rehabilitation plan as well as an impact and value study. They also recall that the securing of a building does not necessarily indicate its demolition.