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Historic Cairo

Factors affecting the property in 1993*
  • Earthquake
  • Management activities
  • Water (rain/water table)
International Assistance: requests for the property until 1993
Requests approved: 3 (from 1979-1992)
Total amount approved : 110,000 USD
Missions to the property until 1993**
Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1993

The World Heritage Committee, at its sixteenth session held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, during December 1992, approved a sum of US$ 50,000 for the restoration of monuments damaged by the earthquake which occurred in Cairo and elsewhere in October 1992. A representative of the Centre undertook a mission to Egypt, and surveyed the damage caused to some of the important monuments in the old City by the earthquake. The Egyptian Government has allocated about US$ 20 million for restoration projects and several foreign missions were already undertaking individual projects with their own funds. There appeared to be lack of coordination between the endeavours undertaken by Egyptian and international teams; the quality of the works being executed also seem to suffer from the lack of standardized norms. In order to meet the deadline (30 June 1993) for committing the US$ 20 million provided by the Egyptian Government, the Egyptian Antiquities Organization (EAO) had called for tenders for projects related to 80 damaged monuments but had received offers for only 20 monuments. None of the bidding firms were specialized in historic restoration. The President of the EAO was of the view that the funds provided by the Committee at Santa Fe, (US$50.000), should be used for technical assistance for coordinating and monitoring the different efforts being undertaken in the historic city in order to ensure that appropriate conservation norms and techniques are applied.

The representative of the Centre met with the Resident Representative of UNDP to examine the possibility for obtaining financial assistance from UNDP for a technical assistance project. The UNDP Resident Representative appeared to favour the launching of such a technical assistance project as long as the Centre took the initiative in preparing a project proposal. UNESCO consultant is scheduled to go to Cairo in May to prepare a draft Project Document.

Several monuments visited showed signs of degradation. The recent earthquake seems to have made the prevailing situation worse. Increasing dampness caused by an inordinately high ground water table appears to be the main cause of degradation. The rise in the level of groundwater seems to have exacerbated during the last 15 to 20 years, a phenomenon common to other parts of Egypt, and is probably a combined effect of the construction of the Aswan Dam, the introduction of running water in all households in the Old City, and the lack of an adequate sewage system. Water seeps into the foundations of the historic buildings, both from below surface and from ground levels. Most of these buildings were constructed around 700-1200 years ago, and their ground level is well below the present street level.

Action Required

The Bureau may wish to discuss the state of conservation of the Historic City of Cairo, in the light of information provided here and in other reports that may be submitted by ICOMOS, in order to make recommendations for the conservation of the City's monuments.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 1993
Islamic Cairo (Egypt)

The Bureau expressed its concern about the deteriorating situation of the monuments of Islamic Cairo and took note of UNDP's disposition to launch a technical assistance project to be executed by UNESCO, and supported the World Heritage Centre's participation in this project.

Report year: 1993
Date of Inscription: 1979
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(v)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 17COM (1993)

* : 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.