1.         Abu Mena (Egypt) (C 90)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1979

Criteria  (iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2001-present

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/90/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2001-2001)
Total amount approved: USD 7,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/90/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions

September 2001: World Heritage Centre mission;  September 2002: World Heritage Centre expert hydrologist mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/90/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2003


At the request of the Egyptian authorities, a World Heritage expert hydrologist carried out a mission in September 2002 to the site, with the aim of evaluating the technical proposals made by the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) in order to reduce the negative effects of the increased groundwater level on the historic monuments.

According to the expert’s report, the SCA project is currently in its first phase of implementation out of three. A review of the project documentation and design suggested that the proposed measures are generally feasible and possibly adequate and that the groundwater level can be lowered through the proposed structural interventions made of combined installation of drainage systems and pumping wells. However, the newly proposed phase II and III of the project should take into account the flow pattern of the water coming from the irrigated areas and the implementation costs should be assessed, in order to implement engineering measures, which will be proved to be sustainable and cost-effective.

Considering that engineering methodologies and mitigation measures, although very effective in the short term, can quickly get outdated by sudden changes in urban development, new land reclamation projects, extended irrigation schemes, etc., two hierarchically related groups of remedial actions are suggested:  long-term political/organizational measures focusing on the source of problems, and engineering measures for technical problems.

In fact, structural measures can be appropriate only if coordinated with other measures, namely the reorganization of the agricultural practice and careful planning of future land reclamation activities in the area.  In order to overcome the present lack of coordination among various Government agencies and local authorities whose activities affect the site, the report recommends the establishment of a Cultural Resources Planning Unit, within the SCA, which will be responsible for coordinating with the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, the city planning authorities, the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation and the Ministry of Tourism, in order to review all infrastructure projects having a potential impact on major national heritage sites.

A draft framework for a Cultural Resources Impact Assessment procedure, which should be mandatory for any initiative that could affect the historic heritage, could be developed as a pilot project for Abu Mena. Moreover, a Management Plan for the site should be prepared in consultation with all institutions involved and, particularly, with the Groundwater Research Institute as well as with local farmers and representatives. The Plan should include a programme for regular monitoring of the state of conservation of the site, so as to allow a quick response to potential threats.



ICOMOS warmly endorses these proposals and congratulates the Centre and its expert for the prescient report. It furthermore urges the State Party to adopt the recommended courses of action without delay, given the urgency of the threats to the monuments and the certainty that they will continue unless firm action is taken. 

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


Decision Adopted: 27 COM 7A.18

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having taken note of the information provided by the World Heritage Centre on the results of the mission to the property,;

2. Commends the State Party for the efforts which are made in order to complete the programme for the protection of the area;

3. Stresses, however, that engineering solutions to the groundwater problems might prove not cost-effective and sustainable if the source of the problem is not addressed in a comprehensive and co-ordination effort;

4. Recommends to the State Party to halt the on-going engineering interventions and review Phases II and III of the project, taking into account the recommendations of the World Heritage Centre expert;

5. Recommends to the State Party to consider establishing a Cultural Heritage Co-ordination Unit within the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), which would be responsible for maintaining contacts with all institutions involved in planning activities with a potential impact on heritage, as well as for promoting pro-active assessment, planning, monitoring and management of all activities within these properties;

6. Suggests to the State Party to consider requesting international assistance for technical co-operation, if necessary, with a view to set up this Unit and develop its operational procedures;

7. Requests the State Party to submit a report to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2004, on the progress in the implementation of these recommendations for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 28th session in 2004;

8. Decides to retain the property of Abu Mena on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 27 COM 8B.2

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Following examination of state of conservation reports of properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC-03/27.COM/7A),;

2. Decides to maintain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: