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Abu Mena

Egypt
Factors affecting the property in 2019*
  • Housing
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water (rain/water table)
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Rise of the water table, and ensuing damage
  • Impact on structures due to earth trembling and other forms of damage likely to result from the use of heavy earth-moving equipment (works completed)
  • Lack of conservation plan, defining short-, medium-, and long-term objectives and establishing technical parameters (materials, techniques, etc.)
  • Need for a management plan, to include research, presentation and interpretation, the role of stakeholders (e.g. the Mar Mena community), staffing, sponsorship, visitor facilities, access, etc.
  • Encroachments within the property and inappropriate recent constructions
  • Lack of engagement with local communities and other stakeholders
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Failure to implement corrective measures
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
  • A land-reclamation programme and irrigation scheme with no appropriate drainage mechanism for the agricultural development of the region has caused a dramatic rise in the water table
  • The destruction of numerous cisterns, disseminated around the property, has entailed the collapse of several overlying structures. Huge underground cavities have opened in the north-western region of the property
  • A large, banked road has been built to enable movement within the property
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger
Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1279
Corrective Measures for the property

Adopted, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1279

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Adopted, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1279 but outdated and needs to be revised

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2019
Requests approved: 1 (from 2001-2014)
Total amount approved : 7,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2019**

2002: Expert mission; 2005, 2009 and 2012: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring missions; 2018: UNESCO and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019

On 28 January 2019, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/90/documents/ and provides information on a number of conservation issues addressed by the Committee at its previous sessions, as follows:

  • The Supreme Committee for the Management of World Heritage Sites in Egypt has been established, including relevant ministries and officials, to facilitate and coordinate Egyptian authorities involved in World Heritage property management. The Supreme Committee has addressed the problem of the rising underground water table and experts from the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Antiquities have visited the property;
  • An urgent plan has been prepared to address the problem of the rising underground water table, and a contract for the necessary study has been concluded with the Mechanical and Electrical Research Institute. Substantial financial resources have been allocated to re-operating a dewatering project, including the importation of 170 high quality pumps, which are being installed and expected to be operational later in 2019;
  • Specialists from the Ministry of Antiquities have conducted a condition survey to assess the current state of conservation of archaeological remains, and to prepare an Action Plan. Conservators from the Ministry of Antiquities will assist in any necessary mitigation measures during the forthcoming de-watering project. A Conservation Plan for the archaeological remains will be submitted to the World Heritage Centre after its approval by the Permanent Committee of Antiquities;
  • A multi-disciplinary Advisory mission, involving UNESCO and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), visited the property in May 2018 and recommended improved communication within the government, protection of the tomb of Saint Mena, and fencing of the archaeological site. The mission also recommended considering for the longer term, the use of solar power for pumps, drip irrigation, planting trees that absorb water, as well as the development of infrastructure. The mission also proposed the development of a sustainable Management Plan using geophysics and enhanced reality technologies, and a comprehensive and sustainable development plan;
  • The Ministry of Antiquities is to commence work on developing a comprehensive Integrated Management Plan;
  • All illegal constructions within the property and its buffer zone have been removed, except for a wooden chapel, which will be demolished following the de-watering project.
Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2019

The State Party has commenced implementation of some corrective measures (adopted in 2006), including the removal of new constructions and a condition survey and Action Plan to address physical conservation of archaeological remains, but a comprehensive Conservation Plan addressing all of the significant components of the property is still required. Although the Ministry of Antiquities is to work on developing a comprehensive Integrated Management Plan, this has now been sought for more than a decade, including through Decisions 41 COM 7A.32 and 42 COM 7A.17. The attributes that contribute to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property have deteriorated over this period. The timeframe for the completion of corrective measures (adopted in 2007 for completion by 2010), requires updating.

The establishment of the Supreme Committee for the Management of World Heritage Sites in Egypt, the preparation of the urgent plan to address the rising underground water table, the contract for necessary investigations and the allocation of funds for a de-watering project are all positive steps in addressing longstanding and substantial threats to the OUV of the property and should contribute to the implementation of corrective measures.

A long-term sustainable solution for the rising water level needs to be pursued. The condition survey, completed by specialists from the Ministry of Antiquities, and the resulting Action Plan should assist with the implementation of appropriate monitoring and mitigation measures needed to avoid further deterioration.

The recommendations of the 2018 expert mission are welcome, and should be promptly addressed and implemented. Further removal of encroachments is also welcome, as is the decision to defer construction of the visitor centre.

Despite the progress noted above, the State Party has not yet submitted details of all on-going or planned restoration interventions at the property, particularly at the Great Basilica, nor information about the reburial strategy, for review prior to implementation, as requested in Decisions 40 COM 7A.9, 41 COM 7A.32 and 42 COM 7A.17. It is recommended that the Committee remind the State Party of its obligations to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, detailed information, including Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs), for projects proposed within the property or its buffer zone, before commencement, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

The previous proposal for a minor boundary modification, first proposed in 2016, will be considered by the newly-created Supreme Committee for the Management of World Heritage Sites in Egypt as part of a wider programme to prepare detailed maps of all Egyptian World Heritage properties. It would be necessary to consult with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS regarding any proposed modification of the boundaries of both the property and buffer zone, in line with Paragraphs 163-165 of the Operational Guidelines.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2019
43 COM 7A.17
Abu Mena (Egypt) (C 90)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decisions 41 COM 7A.32 and 42 COM 7A.17 adopted at its 41st (Krakow, 2017) and 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively,
  3. Notes that the State Party has commenced the implementation of a number of the corrective measures to protect and conserve the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, including the removal of inadequate new constructions and the preparation of a condition survey and resulting action plan for ensuring the conservation of archaeological remains;
  4. Continues to express great concern regarding the state of conservation of the property and the slow implementation of other corrective measures, including particularly the preparation of a comprehensive Management Plan and preparation of a Conservation Plan and therefore, urges the State Party to proceed with the comprehensive implementation of all corrective measures, to protect and conserve the OUV of the property;
  5. Welcomes the appointment of the Supreme Committee for the Management of World Heritage Sites in Egypt, the preparation of the urgent plan to address rising underground water table at the property, the contract for investigations, and the allocation of funds for the de-watering project, as well as the involvement of conservators from the Ministry of Antiquities in monitoring and mitigation measures needed to avoid further damage to archaeological features;
  6. Also welcomes the 2018 Advisory mission, involving UNESCO and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and also urges the State Party to adopt and implement fully the mission recommendations, including advice on appropriate irrigation and water management technologies towards a sustainable and long term solution;
  7. Reminds the State Party of its obligations to submit, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, details of all on-going or planned restoration interventions at the property, particularly at the Great Basilica, the reburial strategy, and initiatives arising from the project for restoration and rehabilitation of the property, as well as any new envisaged constructions, for review prior to implementation;
  8. Requests the State Party to consider any proposed minor boundary modification request in close consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, and in line with Paragraphs 163-165 of the Operational Guidelines;
  9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2020, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 44th session in 2020;
  10. Decides to retain Abu Mena (Egypt) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
43 COM 8C.2
Update of the List of World Heritage in Danger (Retained Properties)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/19/43.COM/7A, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.3 and WHC/19/43.COM/7A.Add.3.Corr),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger:
  • Afghanistan, Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley (Decision 43 COM 7A.41)
  • Afghanistan, Minaret and Archaeological Remains of Jam (Decision43 COM 7A.42)
  • Austria, Historic Centre of Vienna (Decision 43 COM 7A.45)
  • Bolivia (Plurinational State of), City of Potosí (Decision 43 COM 7A.48)
  • Central African Republic, Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.5)
  • Côte d'Ivoire / Guinea, Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve (Decision 43 COM 7A.6)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Garamba National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.7)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kahuzi-Biega National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.8)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Okapi Wildlife Reserve (Decision 43 COM 7A.9)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Salonga National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.10)
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo, Virunga National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.11)
  • Egypt, Abu Mena (Decision 43 COM 7A.17)
  • Honduras, Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Decision 43 COM 7A.4)
  • Indonesia, Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra (Decision 43 COM 7A.1)
  • Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (Decision 43 COM 7A.18)
  • Iraq, Hatra (Decision 43 COM 7A.19)
  • Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City (Decision 43 COM 7A.20)
  • Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls (site proposed by Jordan) (Decision 43 COM 7A.22)
  • Kenya, Lake Turkana National Parks (Decision 43 COM 7A.12)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Cyrene (Decision 43 COM 7A.23)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Leptis Magna (Decision 43 COM 7A.24)
  • Libya, Archaeological Site of Sabratha (Decision 43 COM 7A.25)
  • Libya, Old Town of Ghadamès (Decision 43 COM 7A.26)
  • Libya, Rock-Art Sites of Tadrart Acacus (Decision 43 COM 7A.27)
  • Madagascar, Rainforests of the Atsinanana (Decision 43 COM 7A.13)
  • Mali, Old Towns of Djenné (Decision 43 COM 7A.53)
  • Mali, Timbuktu (Decision 43 COM 7A.54)
  • Mali, Tomb of Askia (Decision 43 COM 7A.55)
  • Micronesia (Federated States of), Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Decision 43 COM 7A.43)
  • Niger, Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves (Decision 43 COM 7A.14)
  • Palestine, Palestine: Land of Olives and Vines – Cultural Landscape of Southern Jerusalem, Battir (Decision 43 COM 7A.30)
  • Palestine, Hebron/Al-Khalil Old Town (Decision 43 COM 7A.29)
  • Panama, Fortifications on the Caribbean Side of Panama: Portobelo-San Lorenzo (Decision 43 COM 7A.50)
  • Peru, Chan Chan Archaelogical Zone (Decision 43 COM 7A.51)
  • Senegal, Niokolo-Koba National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.15)
  • Serbia, Medieval Monuments in Kosovo (Decision 43 COM 7A.46)
  • Solomon Islands, East Rennell (Decision 43 COM 7A.2)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Aleppo (Decision 43 COM 7A.31)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Bosra (Decision 43 COM 7A.32)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient City of Damascus (Decision 43 COM 7A.33)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Ancient Villages of Northern Syria (Decision 43 COM 7A.34)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Decision 43 COM 7A.35)
  • Syrian Arab Republic, Site of Palmyra (Decision 43 COM 7A.36)
  • Uganda, Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi (Decision 43 COM 7A.56)
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Liverpool – Maritime Mercantile City (Decision 43 COM 7A.47)
  • United Republic of Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve (Decision 43 COM 7A.16)
  • United States of America, Everglades National Park (Decision 43 COM 7A.3)
  • Uzbekistan, Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz (Decision 43 COM 7A.44)
  • Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Coro and its Port (Decision 43 COM 7A.52)
  • Yemen, Historic Town of Zabid (Decision 43 COM 7A.38)
  • Yemen, Old City of Sana’a (Decision 43 COM 7A.39)
  • Yemen, Old Walled City of Shibam (Decision 43 COM 7A.40)
Draft Decision: 43 COM 7A.17

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7A,
  2. Recalling Decisions 41 COM 7A.32 and 42 COM 7A.17 adopted at its 41st (Krakow, 2017) and 42nd (Manama, 2018) sessions respectively,
  3. Notes that the State Party has commenced the implementation of a number of the corrective measures to protect and conserve the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, including the removal of inadequate new constructions and the preparation of a condition survey and resulting action plan for ensuring the conservation of archaeological remains;
  4. Continues to express great concern regarding the state of conservation of the property and the slow implementation of other corrective measures, including particularly the preparation of a comprehensive Management Plan and preparation of a Conservation Plan and therefore, urges the State Party to proceed with the comprehensive implementation of all corrective measures, to protect and conserve the OUV of the property;
  5. Welcomes the appointment of the Supreme Committee for the Management of World Heritage Sites in Egypt, the preparation of the urgent plan to address rising underground water table at the property, the contract for investigations, and the allocation of funds for the de-watering project, as well as the involvement of conservators from the Ministry of Antiquities in monitoring and mitigation measures needed to avoid further damage to archaeological features;
  6. Also welcomes the 2018 Advisory mission, involving UNESCO and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and also urges the State Party to adopt and implement fully the mission recommendations, including advice on appropriate irrigation and water management technologies towards a sustainable and long term solution;
  7. Reminds the State Party of its obligations to submit, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, details of all on-going or planned restoration interventions at the property, particularly at the Great Basilica, the reburial strategy, and initiatives arising from the project for restoration and rehabilitation of the property, as well as any new envisaged constructions, for review prior to implementation;
  8. Requests the State Party to consider any proposed minor boundary modification request in close consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, and in line with Paragraphs 163-165 of the Operational Guidelines;
  9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2020, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 44th session in 2020;
  10. Decides to retain Abu Mena (Egypt) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2019
Egypt
Date of Inscription: 1979
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (iv)
Danger List (dates): 2001-present
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2019) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 43COM (2019)
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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