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Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis

Egypt
Factors affecting the property in 2019*
  • Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system
  • Deliberate destruction of heritage
  • Flooding
  • Housing
  • Human resources
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Management activities
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Water (rain/water table)
  • Other Threats:

    Natural decay and structural problems

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Natural decay and structural problems
  • Rising underground water level
  • Risks of flooding (Valleys of Kings and Queens)
  • Absence of a comprehensive Management Plan
  • Absence of strategy to manage and control tourism sustainably
  • Lack of a Conservation Plan for the property
  • Limited available technical and human resources
  • Major infrastructure and development projects taking place or scheduled
  • Uncontrolled urban development
  • Housing and agricultural encroachment on the West Bank of the Nile
  • Deliberate destruction of heritage (Demolitions in the villages of Gourna on the West Bank of the Nile and transfer of the population)
  • Changes in traditional ways of life and knowledge system
  • Neglect of important modern heritage, namely Hassan Fathi’s buildings in New Gourna
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2019

Total amount granted: USD 1,131,000from the Japanese Funds-in-Trust 2002-2004 and 2008 (wall paintings restoration in the tomb of Amenophis III)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2019
Requests approved: 1 (from 2001-2001)
Total amount approved : 7,000 USD
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2019

On 5 December 2018, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/87/documents/ and reports on progress in implementing Committee Decisions and current projects, as follows:

  • In cooperation with the UNESCO Cairo Office, a capacity-building workshop was organized in Luxor in November 2017 addressing site management. A training workshop was held in Cairo in July 2018 on the retrospective inventory and boundaries clarification for practitioners and managers from Egypt and Libya with the support of the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage (ARC-WH) and the African World Heritage Fund, in coordination with UNESCO Cairo Office. A human resources survey has been undertaken to help ensure that an appropriate set of skills are available at Luxor;
  • The State Party’s report includes a proposed revised Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) as requested by Decision 41 COM 7B.76;
  • The Management Plan has not been finalized; but previous studies and proposals are being reviewed with a view to preparing a unified Site Management and Tourism Plan;
  • A report on the documentation process and intervention methods for the conservation of the noble tombs TT.112 and TT.131 has also been provided;
  • Information has been submitted in relation to some of the Committee requests, including lighting and security cameras, underground water project design and implementation, and the Flood Emergency Plan established for the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens;
  • Restoration and rehabilitation works are in progress at the Temple of the Apt, including dust and bat removal, repair of cracks and eroded surfaces by mortar application, removal of surface layers to reveal previous colour schemes, installation of stone flooring and implementation of works to provide greater accessibility and security. Archaeological excavation and restoration works have proceeded in the Avenue of Sphinxes, including assembly and restoration of statues, strengthening of inscriptions, and re-assembling archaeological bases in cooperation with the site’s archaeologists. Other restoration and conservation works have occurred at funerary temples, including the Temple of Medinet Habu, the Ramesseum, and the Temple of Seti I;
  • In recognition of 2018 as a year of accessibility, a plan has been prepared to make Karnak the first monumental precinct in Egypt accessible to disabled people.

The State Party has also provided information on the establishment of a Supreme Committee for the Management of World Heritage Sites in Egypt. The committee is composed of fourteen representatives from different Ministries and institutions. Its mandate is to develop a strategic vision for management, protection and preservation of World Heritage properties in Egypt.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2019

The preparation of a revised Statement of OUV for the property is welcome as an essential foundational document for the much-needed Management Plan, as well as for the revision of the 2030 Masterplan, which should integrate conservation of OUV across all projects at the property. The revised Statement of OUV will still need to be reviewed by the Advisory Bodies before it is formally adopted by the Committee.

Capacity building and training initiatives of the State Party, in conjunction with the UNESCO Cairo Office, ARC-WH and the African World Heritage Fund are also welcome. On the other hand, the slow progress in developing the Management Plan, incorporating a Conservation Plan and related comprehensive Tourism Management Plan, remains a major concern. As recommended by the 2017 Reactive Monitoring mission, an Integrated Management Plan (IMP) that focuses on conservation and protection should be established to guide the State Party’s actions within the property and its buffer zone, while initiatives related to social and economic development of local inhabitants should not adversely affect the property’s OUV, in accordance with the World Heritage Sustainable Development Policy. The State Party has not provided a report on implementation of the recommendations from the 2017 mission, as requested by Decision 41 COM 7B.76.

The neglect of important modern heritage, namely Hassan Fathi’s buildings in New Gourna, was raised in previous reports. The UNESCO Cairo Office has informed on the future implementation of the project for rehabilitating of five unique buildings built by the architect Hassan Fathy in the village of New Gourna Village, Luxor. The five buildings to be restored under this project financed by the Egypt Special account are the Mosque, Hassan Fathy’s House, the Theatre, the Khan, and the Market in the village. The project has been launched in cooperation with the National Organization for Urban Harmony, under the Ministry of Culture. The works aim at maintaining the traditional earthen architecture (mud bricks), methodology, and techniques that were initially implemented by Hassan Fathi during the middle of the twentieth century. It focuses on urgent reconstruction and restoration to prevent further deterioration. The project is considered as a first step in revitalizing the village and contributing to the sustainable development of the local community.

Although some actions recommended by previous Committee Decisions have been taken, other high-priority actions are not yet implemented. These include the riverbank’s landscaping, traffic control, visual impact and draining problems of its retaining wall, and its connection with the Karnak temple and plaza. 

As noted in previous mission reports and Committee Decisions, the property remains at risk from substantial and cumulative adverse impact on the OUV from new projects implemented within the property and its buffer zone. Ongoing threats to the authenticity and integrity of the property include natural decay and structural problems, absence of effective and comprehensive management arrangements at national and local levels, lack of a Conservation Plan for the property, and limits to available technical and human resources. The management of the property continues to be affected by over-emphasis on tourism development.

The State Party has reported on a number of projects; however, full information about all projects has not been submitted. It is therefore recommended that the Committee remind the State Party of the need to comply with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and to provide both previously-requested documentation on projects, as well as on new projects (currently in progress or proposed), including Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) with a section focusing on the OUV of the property, whenever necessary. These include the lighting and security cameras project, the underground water project design and implementation, flood channeling and the Flood Emergency Plan established for the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, archaeological excavation and restoration works at the Avenue of Sphinxes, restoration and rehabilitation works at the Temple of the Apt, and works at the Temple of Medinet Habu, the Ramesseum, and the Temple of Seti I.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2019
43 COM 7B.43
Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis (Egypt) (C 87)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 37 COM 7B.48, 39 COM 7B.49 and 41 COM 7B.76, adopted at its 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013), 39th (Bonn, 2015) and 41st (Krakow, 2017) sessions respectively,
  3. Notes the establishment of the Supreme Committee of the Management of World Heritage sites and welcomes the submission of a revised Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) for the property, as well as the training initiatives and the efforts for the conservation of the modern heritage of Hassan Fathi;
  4. Regrets that the State Party has not reported on the implementation of the recommendations of the 2017 Reactive Monitoring mission, and urges the State Party to implement and report on all of the mission recommendations as a matter of urgency;
  5. Also regrets that the State Party has not fully complied with other requests expressed by the Committee in its previous Decisions and considers that the continuing absence of the Management Plan, the growing number of development projects at the property, and pressures of tourism are exerting a growing impact on its OUV, and therefore also urges the State Party once again to expedite the preparation of the Management Plan, incorporating a Conservation Plan and a comprehensive Tourism Management Plan, and further urges the State Party to revise the 2030 Masterplan for the property to integrate conservation of OUV across all projects within the property;
  6. Also requests the State Party to provide, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines documentation and, where appropriate, Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies prior to project approval and implementation, particularly with regard to the following:
    1. Comprehensive documentation on the lighting and security cameras project, with details regarding its implementation,
    2. A report on the underground water project design and implementation,
    3. A report on the flood channelling and Flood Emergency Plan established for the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens,
    4. A report on archaeological excavation and restoration works at the Avenue of Sphinxes,
    5. Details of restoration and rehabilitation works at the Temple of the Apt, the Temple of Medinet Habu, the Ramesseum, and the Temple of Seti I,
    6. Details of proposed works to facilitate disability access at Karnak,
    7. Details of any other infrastructure, development or conservation projects proposed within property or its buffer zone prior to making any irreversible decisions or commencing works;
  7. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 45th session in 2021.
Draft Decision: 43 COM 7B.43

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decisions 37 COM 7B.48, 39 COM 7B.49 and 41 COM 7B.76, adopted at its 37th (Phnom Penh, 2013), 39th (Bonn, 2015) and 41st (Krakow, 2017) sessions respectively,
  3. Notes the establishment of the Supreme Committee of the Management of World Heritage sites and welcomes the submission of a revised Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) for the property, as well as the training initiatives and the efforts for the conservation of the modern heritage of Hassan Fathi;
  4. Regrets that the State Party has not reported on the implementation of the recommendations of the 2017 Reactive Monitoring mission, and urges the State Party to implement and report on all of the mission recommendations as a matter of urgency;
  5. Also regrets that the State Party has not fully complied with other requests expressed by the Committee in its previous Decisions and considers that the continuing absence of the Management Plan, the growing number of development projects at the property, and pressures of tourism are exerting a growing impact on its OUV, and therefore also urges the State Party once again to expedite the preparation of the Management Plan, incorporating a Conservation Plan and a comprehensive Tourism Management Plan, and further urges the State Party to revise the 2030 Masterplan for the property to integrate conservation of OUV across all projects within the property;
  6. Also requests the State Party to provide, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines documentation and, where appropriate, Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies prior to project approval and implementation, particularly with regard to the following:
    1. Comprehensive documentation on the lighting and security cameras project, with details regarding its implementation,
    2. A report on the underground water project design and implementation,
    3. A report on the flood channeling and Flood Emergency Plan established for the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens,
    4. A report on archaeological excavation and restoration works at the Avenue of Sphinxes,
    5. Details of restoration and rehabilitation works at the Temple of the Apt, the Temple of Medinet Habu, the Ramesseum, and the Temple of Seti I,
    6. Details of proposed works to facilitate disability access at Karnak,
    7. Details of any other infrastructure, development or conservation projects proposed within property or its buffer zone prior to making any irreversible decisions or commencing works;
  7. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 45th session in 2021.
Report year: 2019
Egypt
Date of Inscription: 1979
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (i)(iii)(vi)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2018) .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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