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Historic Cairo

Egypt
Factors affecting the property in 2006*
  • Housing
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water (rain/water table)
  • Other Threats:

    Dilapidated infrastructure; Neglect and lack of maintenance

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Earthquake in 1992 (issue resolved);
  • Inappropriate reconstruction works (issue resolved);  
  • Rise of the underground water level;
  • Dilapidated infrastructure;
  • Neglect and lack of maintenance;
  • Overcrowded areas and buildings;
  • Uncontrolled development;
  • Absence of a defined protection perimeter for the property and of a comprehensive Urban Conservation Plan;
  • Absence of an integrated socio-economic revitalization plan linking the urban and the socio-cultural fabric of the city core.

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2006
Requests approved: 10 (from 1979-1999)
Total amount approved : 398,900 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2006

An International Symposium on the Conservation and Restoration of Islamic Cairo, which took place in 2002, and follow up discussions within the Committee at its 27th and 28th sessions, identified a number of key recommendations to improve conservation of old Cairo. These included:

a) Designating Islamic Cairo as a Special Planning District, with buffer zones, in accordance with the provision of the Operational Guidelines;

b) Preparing a comprehensive Urban Plan for the Conservation and Development of the Old City, whereby the conservation of historic buildings would be accompanied by appropriate development regulations to encourage the rehabilitation of the urban fabric so as to ensure its compatibility with the historic character of Islamic Cairo;

c) Organizing regular meetings among Egyptian and international experts to review and discuss current conservation issues and projects.

An ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission was carried out from 9 to 16 March 2005. Its report provided many positive indications concerning the quality of restoration work. However, it also drew attention to a number of important shortcomings in work underway including over-emphasis on tourism oriented functions, lack of concern for context, and lack of involvement of the general public. Finally, the report reiterated the need of designating “Historic Cairo within clearly defined borders including an appropriate buffer zone as one planning district”.

The Committee, at its 29th session, had commended the State Party “for the actions taken to rehabilitate the property by implementing conservation works on the historic buildings”, but regretted the lack of progress made on the implementation of the recommendations of the 2002 International Symposium. The Committee therefore urged the State Party to take immediate steps “to elaborate the requested Plan and all related actions, otherwise facing the loss of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property” and requested that the State Party identify “the exact boundaries of the World Heritage property and its buffer zone on a detailed topographic map at the appropriate scale”. The Committee also urged the State Party to submit this map and a report on the progress made in the implementation of the above recommendations by 1 February 2006, for the consideration of the Committee at its 30th session in 2006.

The State Party submitted a report to the World Heritage Centre on 1 February 2006, entitled “Report of Egyptian Government on Historic Cairo and its Development Project”. While the report provides an eloquent overview of the complexity of the historic city, and demonstrates the many improvements recently achieved in approaches and methodologies for monument restoration, as well as recent actions taken to address problems associated with excessive traffic and decaying infrastructure in the city, it also suggests that the Government has given priority to addressing the physical dilapidation of the city noted in the 2002 report, prior to launching the comprehensive planning measures called for in the same document. The report suggests that it is the intention of the Government to initiate such planning measures in the second half of 2006. The report is not accompanied by the detailed topographic map called for by the Committee at its 29th session, but by colour copies of the 1948 map of Cairo showing Islamic monuments (scale 1:5,000) which had already been submitted with the original nomination, as well as a simplified A4 generic black and white map showing parts of 5 zones, without description or identification of same.

The importance of giving the highest priority to the planning process and outcomes called for in the 2002 report and emphasized as essential in all subsequent sessions of the Committee is hereby reiterated. This process should include efforts to identify and describe the character zones of the historic city, their associated significance (expressed within character zone significance statements), to ensure that planning integrates concern for housing, and socio-economic needs within conservation strategies examined. The 2002 report and supporting Committee recommendations call specifically for “designating Historic Cairo as a Special Planning District, with buffer zones, in accordance with the provision of the Operational Guidelines”. This critical point is not addressed in the recent report by the State Party.

ICOMOS believes that in spite of the many actions undertaken by the Egyptian authorities in recent years to improve physical conservation of the Old City, because of the time that has elapsed since the 2002 report and the failure in that period of the State Party to implement the principal priority recommendations in that report, the State Party should be asked urgently to consult with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies. Such consultations shall define a work programme to ensure beginning in 2006 for the implementation of all recommendations coming from the 2002 Report and subsequently endorsed by the Committee at its 27th, 28th and 29th sessions.  

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2006
30 COM 7B.50
State of Conservation (Islamic Cairo)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-06/30.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 29 COM 7B.42, adopted at its 29th session (Durban, 2005),

3. Also recalling Decision 28 COM 15B.47 adopted at its 28th session (Suzhou, 2004), and particularly its request to:

a) Designate Islamic Cairo as a Special Planning District, with buffer zones, in accordance with the provision of the Operational Guidelines, and

b) Prepare a comprehensive Urban Plan for the Conservation and Development of the Old City, whereby the conservation of historic buildings would be accompanied by appropriate development regulations,

4. Commends the State Party for the efforts made to improve conservation of Historic Cairo in the last years;

5. Notes with great concern that the principal recommendations of the 2002 Report, subsequently endorsed by the World Heritage Committee in 2003, 2004 and 2005 have not yet been implemented, and that the requested detailed topographic map, at the appropriate scale, identifying the exact boundaries of the inscribed property and its buffer zone has not been supplied;

6. Recommends that the State Party invite the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies urgently to assist in drafting terms of reference for planning and administrative activities that would ensure beginning implementation of the 2002 Report recommendations;

7. Further recommends that the State Party consider whether the present name of the property, "Islamic Cairo", reflects the real character of the area or whether it should envisage to propose to modify the name to "Historic Cairo";

8. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2007, a report on the implementation of the principal recommendations contained within the 2002 Report and subsequently endorsed by the World Heritage Committee, and the detailed topographic map requested, for examination by the Committee at its 31st session in 2007.

Draft Decision: 30 COM 7B.50

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-06/30.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 29 COM 7B.42, adopted at its 29th session (Durban, 2005),

3. Also recalling Decision 28 COM 15B.47 adopted at its 28th session (Suzhou, 2004), and particularly its request to:

a) designate Islamic Cairo as a Special Planning District, with buffer zones, in accordance with the provision of the Operational Guidelines, and

b) prepare a comprehensive Urban Plan for the Conservation and Development of the Old City, whereby the conservation of historic buildings would be accompanied by appropriate development regulations,

4. Commends the State Party for the efforts made to improve conservation of Historic Cairo in the last years;

5. Notes with great concern that the principal recommendations of the 2002 Report, subsequently endorsed by the World Heritage Committee in 2003, 2004 and 2005 have not yet been implemented, and that the requested detailed topographic map, at the appropriate scale, identifying the exact boundaries of the inscribed property and its buffer zone has not been supplied;

6. Recommends that the State Party invite the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies urgently to assist in drafting terms of reference for planning and administrative activities that would ensure beginning implementation of the 2002 Report recommendations;

7. Further recommends that the State Party consider whether the present name of the property, “Islamic Cairo”, reflects the real character of the area or whether it should envisage to propose to modify the name to “Historic Cairo”;

8. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2007, a report on the implementation of the principal recommendations contained within the 2002 Report and subsequently endorsed by the World Heritage Committee, and the detailed topographic map requested, for examinationby the Committee at its 31st session in 2007.

Report year: 2006
Egypt
Date of Inscription: 1979
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(v)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 30COM (2006)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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