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Historic Cairo

Egypt
Factors affecting the property in 2015*
  • Housing
  • 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 comprehensive Urban Conservation Plan
  • Absence of an integrated socio-economic revitalization plan linking the urban and the socio-cultural fabric of the city core
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2015

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

 

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2015
Requests approved: 10 (from 1979-2014)
Total amount approved : 398,900 USD
Missions to the property until 2015**

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; November 2014: World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2015

On 8 February 2015, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report; a summary of which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/89/documents/. The report indicates the following progress:

  • In response to Decision 37 COM 7B.49, a Ministerial Committee was established under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister to overlook the planning of all activities pertaining to Historic Cairo and develop appropriate strategies of intervention; the boundaries of the property and buffer zone, as proposed by the UNESCO Urban Regeneration of Historic Cairo Project (URHC) team have been approved by the Ministerial Committee on 13 January 2015; and a site management plan will be prepared with the concerned stakeholders.
  • The Ministerial Committee is working on amending the law on construction and demolition within Historic Cairo to address illegal constructions. A document showcasing the government’s efforts to control those constructions was provided.
  • The report lists the restoration projects in several monuments and the urban regeneration project in al-Gamaliya, which were implemented in the property, and the future plans to rehabilitate al-Moez Street; it provides drawings on planned development projects within the property. However, the report did not provide a revised draft of the retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).

Upon invitation by the State Party, a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission took place from 14 to 18 November 2014 to Historic Cairo. The mission was made fully aware that the fabric of Historic Cairo is under severe strain from inadequate development control. Although many of the monuments have been restored and are being managed, the urban fabric is extremely vulnerable. The mission considered that unless actions are taken to reverse what is becoming a downward spiral in the immediate future, it could well become impossible to sustain the attributes of the property’s OUV.

The mission recommended a major Revitalisation Project for Historic Cairo that could valorise the attributes of OUV and the social and cultural assets of the city, reverse urban decline and foster a synergy between the present and the past. Such a project would need to be tiled into the wider development of Greater Cairo, which are facing major transformational pressures and rapid urban change. The mission also suggested short, medium and long term actions based on the URHC studies, analysis and proposals. It also suggested that a technical workshop might be convened to explore further strategic or area-based approaches for what could become one of the world’s largest urban revitalisation projects.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2015

The rapid and irreversible degradation of the property’s urban fabric make it very difficult for the State Party to sustain the attributes of the property’s OUV should be noted with great concern. The State Party has taken important steps towards a reinforced and more coordinated approach to Historic Cairo, by taking forward the conservation of the property at the highest level and addressing its challenges in a holistic way that takes into account local development concerns. It has also adopted the boundaries and buffer zone of the property as proposed by the URHC project and requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session. However, despite the establishment of a Ministerial Committee, the property still does not have a management plan nor a management system to enforce the decisions of the Ministerial Committee; urban decay is accelerating and particularly impacting on buildings of “peculiar value” which constitute the very quality of the urban fabric, and illegal constructions are still being built at a rapid pace. It is recommended that the World Heritage Committee commend the State Party for the progress made so far, but also urge it for the adoption of a management system and the production of a management plan, and reiterate its request to halt illegal constructions and refrain from demolishing the original urban fabric. 

In view of the complexity of the problems encountered in Historic Cairo, and the extent of the property’s urban decay, it appears that only a large scale urban revitalisation project that addresses the social, economic and environmental aspects in a holistic manner could save the property. Such a project could build on the extensive studies and pilot project produced by the URHC and would require the creation of a unified management structure for the property. The mechanisms of such a large scale project could be established in a technical workshop to define concrete operational steps, and may be supported by an extension of the URHC Project.

While the detailed contents of an urban revitalisation project, its aims, objectives, implementation mechanism and provisional timeframe are being planned, and a Technical Unit of highly-qualified multidisciplinary team is appointed, it is recommended that the World Heritage Committee urge the State Party to undertake the short term actions (before end of 2015) proposed by the 2014 World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission by introducing stricter controls, particularly on demolition and development in order to stabilise the current situation of the urban fabric. Such short term actions should be accompanied by awareness-raising actions amongst residents and amongst those involved in development control measures.

Finally, it is recommended that the World Heritage Committee reiterate its request for the submission by the State Party of a retrospective Statement of OUV.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2015
39 COM 7B.50
Historic Cairo (Egypt) (C 89)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 36 COM 7B.51, and 37 COM 7B.49, adopted at its 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012) and 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013) sessions respectively,
  3. Notes with great concern the rapid and irreversible degradation of the Historic Cairo urban fabric which will make it very difficult for the State Party to sustain the attributes of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  4. Acknowledges the establishment by the State Party of a Ministerial Committee chaired by the Prime Minister to oversee the management of Historic Cairo, and commends it for adopting the boundaries and buffer zone of the property as proposed by the UNESCO Urban Regeneration of Historic Cairo Project (URHC) and requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013);
  5. Urges the State Party to introduce stricter controls, particularly on demolition and development in order to stabilise the current situation of the urban fabric, in parallel with appropriate awareness-raising actions;
  6. Also urges the State Party to consider a large scale urban revitalisation project that addresses the social, economic and environmental problems affecting the property in a holistic manner, and to hold a technical workshop to define the aims, objectives, implementation mechanism and provisional timeframe of such a project;
  7. Requests that a Technical Unit formed of a highly-qualified multidisciplinary team be created, to manage the property, establish its integrated management plan, and take forward the URHC;
  8. Reiterates its request to the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre the revised draft of the retrospective Statement of OUV for the property;
  9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.
Draft Decision: 39 COM 7B.50

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC-15/39.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 36 COM 7B.51, and 37 COM 7B.49, adopted at its 36th (Saint-Petersburg, 2012) and 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013) sessions respectively,
  3. Notes with great concern the rapid and irreversible degradation of the Historic Cairo urban fabric which will make it very difficult for the State Party to sustain the attributes of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV);
  4. Acknowledges the establishment by the State Party of a Ministerial Committee chaired by the Prime Minister to oversee the management of Historic Cairo, and commends it for adopting the boundaries and buffer zone of the property as proposed by the UNESCO Urban Regeneration of Historic Cairo Project (URHC) and requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013);
  5. Urges the State Party to introduce stricter controls, particularly on demolition and development in order to stabilise the current situation of the urban fabric, in parallel with appropriate awareness-raising actions;
  6. Also urges the State Party to consider a large scale urban revitalisation project that addresses the social, economic and environmental problems affecting the property in a holistic manner, and to hold a technical workshop to define the aims, objectives, implementation mechanism and provisional timeframe of such a project;
  7. Requests that a Technical Unit formed of a highly-qualified multidisciplinary team be created, to manage the property, establish its integrated management plan, and take forward the URHC;
  8. Reiterates its request to the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre the revised draft of the retrospective Statement of OUV for the property;
  9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2016, an updated report, including a 1-page executive summary, on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.
Report year: 2015
Egypt
Date of Inscription: 1979
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(v)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2015) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 39COM (2015)
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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