1.         Historic Cairo (Egypt) (C 89)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1979

Criteria  (i)(v)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/89/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1979-1999)
Total amount approved: USD 398,900
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/89/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: Special Account for the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of Egypt: USD 2,203,304 dollars for the project Urban Regeneration of Historic Cairo (URHC).  For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/activities/663

 

Previous monitoring missions

August 2002, March 2005: ICOMOS reactive monitoring missions; April and December 2007: World Heritage Centre missions for the Cairo Financial Centre; October 2008: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission; 2009-2013: several World Heritage Centre missions for the URHC project.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/89/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2013

Current conservation issues

On 20 February 2013, the State Party submitted to the World Heritage Centre a report on the state of conservation of the property addressing some of the issues requested by the World Heritage Committee in Decision 36 COM 7B.51. It indicates notably some progress in revising the existing protection measures for areas of Peculiar Value (L.119/2008, Building Law and following decrees), by the National Organisation for Urban Harmony in cooperation with the UNESCO Urban Regeneration of Historic Cairo (URHC) Project. The report also announces the creation of a National Committee for all World Heritage properties of Egypt considered as a first step toward the establishment of a management system for Historic Cairo, the definition of which is planned to be completed in the coming months in close consultation with the concerned stakeholders involved in the protection of the property, as well as with the URHC project.

No mention is made in the report of progress either in finalising the revision of the clarification of the property’s boundary or in submitting a revised draft of the retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value.

The State Party’s report evokes the current political situation in Egypt that so far has not allowed implementing positive changes and, on the contrary, is putting the property under threat because of the difficulties in monitoring the situation during this transitional period. In particular, it mentions the presence of a large number of illegal buildings constructed with inconsistent materials and architectural design, mainly exceeding the heights specified in the regulation for Historic Cairo. Those illegal buildings are made up of reinforced concrete which makes them very difficult to be removed. Many decisions were taken through 2012 concerning the removal of illegal buildings within Historic Cairo, but the administrative authorities are unable to stop these irregularities or to apply the removal orders. In addition, the report presents the interventions carried out by the Ministry of Antiquities in 2012, starting from the Al Muizz project (all the listed interventions had already been presented in the 2009 state of conservation report) and the list of on-going and future restoration projects of monuments.

Separately the World Heritage Centre has received a copy of a report by the UNESCO Urban Regeneration of Historic Cairo Project (URHC), as follows:

The technical results of the first two years of the URHC project have been summarized in the First report of activities (available on web page https://whc.unesco.org/en/activities/663, and http://www.urhcproject.org). The URHC project team confirms that the on-going uncontrolled processes of renovation are leading to the definite dilapidation of large parts of the urban fabric, seriously threatening its vitality and liveability while affecting the significance of the monuments in relation to their surrounding context. As for the archaeological areas within the World Heritage property, their present dramatic condition of maintenance (in particular the area of Fustat) definitely requires an assessment in order to verify the appropriateness of the regulatory and management measures.

The report includes an accurate and very detailed analysis of the historical evolution and transformations of the urban fabric of the property, and suggests how this could be used to define the boundaries of the property and inform the revision of its retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value. Both of these outcomes have been discussed with the Egyptian authorities several times during 2011 and 2012. 

 

 

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

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that despite concerns expressed by the World Heritage Committee, very little progress has been made by the State Party in the effective protection of the property. They also note that despite the considerable effort deployed by the URHC team to develop cooperation with institutional counterparts and dialogue among the various institutions and stakeholders, the conclusions of the URHC report that lead to a logical definition of the boundaries and a basis for a revised draft retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value have not led to any submission by the State Party for a clarification of the boundaries or a retrospective Statement. The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that the State Party in its report acknowledges that its approach is focused on monuments, rather than on urban landscape.

 

Whilst understanding the difficulties caused by the current situation, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies wish to underline the impact of the absence of management measures on the protection of the property. They also note that ensuring long-term conservation and management will require considerable time and capacity-building to develop an efficient and adequate managing system. They recommend that the World Heritage Committee reiterate its requests made at previous sessions to take decisive action to preserve the Outstanding Universal Value for which Historic Cairo was recognized as a World Heritage property and to develop an adequate management system. They consider that the World Heritage Committee may wish to send a reactive monitoring mission to assess the overall state of conservation of the property and the presence of threats which could potentially warrant its inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 37 COM 7B.49

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-13/37.COM/7B,

2.  Recalling Decision 36 COM 7B.51 , adopted at its 36th session (Saint-Petersburg, 2012),

3.  Notes that the State Party has established a management mechanism;

4.  Requests the State Party to consider the boundaries of the property as proposed by the UNESCO Urban Regeneration of Historic Cairo Project (URHC) team, to be submitted to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2015 ;

5.  Notes with concern the information provided by the State Party and the URHC team on the alarming situation of the state of conservation of the property;

6.  Strongly urges the State Party to ensure that measures are taken as soon as possible to stop illegal construction and to protect the archaeological areas;

7.  Also urges the State Party to prepare a management plan for the property;

8.  Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015 , a report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015 .