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Historic Cairo

Egypt
Factors affecting the property in 2005*
  • Housing
  • Human resources
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Management activities
  • 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;
  • Lack of technical restoration and rehabilitation guidelines and principles and insufficient qualified human resources.
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2005
Requests approved: 10 (from 1979-1999)
Total amount approved : 398,900 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2005

The State Party provided the World Heritage Centre, under cover letter dated 25 January 2005, with a one-page report entitled “A report about the activities of the administration of the annual conservation and self restoration”, accompanied by two tables, one listing 152 monuments, and the second giving the names of 13 monuments, presumably restored, and indicating their re-use.  All these buildings bear an inventory number, corresponding probably to the national Registry.

The report refers to the “Engineering administration of Islamic and Coptic Antiquities” and its sub-administration responsible with the “annual conservation and self-restoration”.  It appears that the latter “makes the necessary surveys for the properties […], carries out the periodical conservation for each property and takes the necessary procedures to turn danger away from the monuments, such as: the Women’s oratory in Al-Zahir Baybar’s mosque in Qalyyub, the Cotton Gins in the Barrages, the Al-Qady Yahya mosque in Boulaq, the Abu-Sa’od Al-Garhy mosque in Old Cairo and the Tameem Al-Rassafi mosque in Es-Sayyida Zainab”.  The report also states that the above Engineering administration tenders the works annually to specialized contractors.

An ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission was carried out from 9-16 March 2005.  The report produced gives background on the establishment of the Al-Qahira Al-Tarikhiyya project for Historic Cairo and of the “Advisory Committee for Historic Cairo Studies and Development Centre”.  It provides an assessment of the restoration process which “has taken a very positive approach to preservation of authentic qualities in design, material and workmanship.  […] The use of Portland cement for plasters and mortars has been banned except for purely structural purposes, […] and the technical analysis and documentation of the work being done is now of better standard than it was before.” The expert reviews some successful restoration projects such as Beit Sitt Wasila, Prince al Amir Taz Palace, Sabil-Khutab of Mohammed Ali Ismail, however stressing the danger of too many tourism-oriented functions.  He also underlines the need of “precaution with respect to keeping the quality of patina and sign of age as part of the authentic feeling of a monument, rather that complete renewal”.  The expert also regrets that little attention is being paid to the interrelation between the building and the immediate surroundings, the extensive use of modern light fixtures, the lack of involvement of the general public.  Finally, the monitoring report reiterates the need of designating “Historic Cairo within clearly defined borders including an appropriate buffer zone as one planning district […], and that initiatives be taken to establish a responsible body for coordination of projects, improvement of infrastructure and social betterment of the living conditions”.

Regretfully, the report submitted by the State Party does not provide any kind of information on the eventual implementation of the recommendations formulated at the 2002 International Symposium on the Conservation and Restoration of Islamic Cairo, nor of those made by the Committee at its 27th and 28th sessions.  These included:

a)         Designating Historic 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.

Although considerable efforts are clearly expended towards the rehabilitation of numerous monuments in the old city, the absence of implementation of the above recommendations demonstrates that the State Party does not demonstrate the planning capacity to guarantee that the outstanding universal value of the property, its authenticity and integrity will be maintained, nor to initiate the process which would ensure long-term preservation, notably the elaboration of a comprehensive urban conservation plan.  

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2005
29 COM 7B.42
Islamic Cairo (Egypt)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined the Document WHC-05/29.COM/7B.Rev,

2. Recalling its Decision 28 COM 15B.47 adopted at its 28th session (Suzhou, 2004),

3. Commends the State Party of Egypt for the actions taken to rehabilitate the property by implementing conservation works on the historic buildings;

4. Regrets that no progress has been made on the implementation of the recommendations made by the International Symposium held in Cairo in February 2002, and particularly to:

a) designate Historic Cairo as a Special Planning District, with buffer zones, in accordance with the provisions 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 to encourage the rehabilitation of the urban fabric so as to ensure its compatibility with the historic character of Islamic Cairo;

5. Urges the State Party to take the immediate necessary steps to elaborate the requested Plan and all related actions, in order to sustain the outstanding universal value of the property;

6. Requests the State Party to identify the exact boundaries of the World Heritage property and its buffer zone on a detailed topographic map at the appropriate scale and to submit it, together with a report on the progress made in the implementation of the above recommendations by 1 February 2006, for examination by the Committee at its 30th session (Vilnius, 2006).

Draft decision: 29 COM 7B.42

The World Heritage Committee,

1.              Having examined the Document WHC-05/29.COM/7B.Rev,

2.              Recalling Decision 28 COM 15B.47 adopted at its 28th session (Suzhou, 2004),

3.              Commending the State Party for the actions taken to rehabilitate the property by implementing conservation works on the historic buildings,

4.              Regrets that no progress has been made on the implementation of the recommendations made by the International Symposium held in Cairo in February 2002, and particularly to:

a)     designate Historic 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 to encourage the rehabilitation of the urban fabric so as to ensure its compatibility with the historic character of Islamic Cairo;

5.              Urges the State Party to take the immediate necessary steps to elaborate the requested Plan and all related actions, otherwise facing the loss of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property;

6.              Requests the State Party to identify the exact boundaries of the World Heritage property and its buffer zone on a detailed topographic map at the appropriate scale and to submit it, together with 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.

Report year: 2005
Egypt
Date of Inscription: 1979
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(v)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 29COM (2005)
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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