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

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

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 identified

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Adopted, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/decisions/1279 but outdated and needs to be revised

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

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 2001-2014)
Total amount approved: USD 7,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/90/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

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

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 2021

On 31 January 2020, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report and an executive summary of which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/90/documents/. Progress in a number of areas addressed by the Committee at its previous sessions and by the 2018 joint UNESCO/Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Advisory mission is presented in the report, as follows:

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

Progress is being made in response to previous Committee Decisions and the recommendations of the 2018 mission. The establishment of the Supreme Committee for the Management of World Heritage Sites in Egypt has brought together all relevant institutions in a cross-sectoral approach to tackling issues at the property. The outcomes of this are seen in the ongoing implementation of the GLRP and the preparation of a Sustainable Development Plan.

However, it is of concern that current restoration work (on the Great Basilica and the Aramid Walls) is mentioned only very briefly in the Sustainable Development Plan progress report. It is therefore not clear what urgent or interim conservation measures are being carried out to accompany the changes in water levels that are occurring under the GLRP and if these measures are adequate, noting that a sustainable and long-term solution is needed. In particular, there are no reassurances that specific measures are being taken to protect the Mar Mena Tomb. This is concerning, given the difficulty in ensuring the property’s conservation under fluctuating environmental conditions, and previous delays in addressing critical conservation issues. An update on the State Party’s actions in that regard, and the Restoration and Conservation Plan that has been recently prepared, should be communicated to the World Heritage Centre as soon as possible.

Similar concerns arise over the fact that, while a team has been created to prepare the Management Plan, there is still no specific progress reported on this aspect, although it is noted that it will form part of the broader Sustainable Development Plan under development. This latter plan aims to ‘revive and maximise the benefit of the Abu Mena area to the local community, Egypt and the world’ and addresses issues related to ensuring the property’s conservation and increased visitor numbers. Emphasis on attracting tourism will inevitably lead to changes at the property and in use patterns, which need to be managed in advance so that visitation is consonant with conservation and the property’s role as a place of pilgrimage. The involvement of the religious community and local communities in the elaboration of the Management Plan and sustainable tourism strategy would be highly recommended.

Some recommendations of the 2018 mission have been acted on, while others, such as the completion of a boundary fence and a planting campaign to support water removal, remain unaddressed. In addition, some basic tools for the property’s management are still not in place, including the submission of revised boundaries for the property and its buffer zone, and the retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).

It should be noted that in 2007, the Committee adopted a Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) with the following indicators: a) consolidated structures; b) water table lowered and monitoring system established in and around the property; and c) Management Plan implemented. Of these, only point b) has been partially addressed at this stage, with some of the corrective measures carried out. Therefore, the future conservation of the property is not yet guaranteed. For this reason, it is recommended that the Committee retain the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Finally, regarding the fact that the State Party indicates that it would welcome a World Heritage Centre monitoring mission with a view to remove the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consider that it may be premature for such Reactive Monitoring mission at this stage, but the modalities for an Advisory mission to assist the State Party in identifying a sustainable and long-term solution to lowering the water table and establishing a monitoring system in and around the property could indeed be discussed with the State Party.

Decision Adopted: 44 COM 7A.5

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7A
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7A.17, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Welcomes the ongoing efforts of the State Party to improve the conservation conditions of the property, in particular through the Groundwater Level Reduction Project and the new Sustainable Development Plan, and requests the State Party to submit the Restoration and Conservation Plan to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies;
  4. Expresses concern that the State Party has not reported on recent conditions of the archaeological remains or current conservation work, and urges the State Party to closely monitor conditions while changes are being made to the water levels, with prompt intervention, where necessary, in particular ensuring protection of the Mar Mena Tomb;
  5. Also urges the State Party to complete all necessary corrective measures to protect and conserve the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) in order to reach the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) adopted in 2007, also in light of the recommendations of the 2012 Reactive Monitoring mission and the 2018 Advisory mission;
  6. Also requests the State Party to elaborate as soon as possible the Management Plan, as well as the Sustainable Development Plan, including consideration of an appropriate visitor strategy which supports the property’s OUV and its role as a place of pilgrimage, while also tying into sustainable development objectives and including community participation;
  7. Reminds the State Party of its obligations to submit to the World Heritage Centre, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, details of all on-going or planned projects, including restoration and rehabilitation of the property, as well as any new envisaged construction, for review by the Advisory Bodies prior to implementation;
  8. Notes the information provided on the clarification of property’s new boundaries and further requests the State Party to finalize this process and to submit a minor boundary modification, according to paragraphs 163-165 of the Operational Guidelines, to the World Heritage Centre;
  9. Requests furthermore the State Party, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies, to finalize the draft Retrospective Statement of OUV, which is needed to inform all the plans and strategies being developed for the property;
  10. Finally requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2022, 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;
  11. Decides to retain Abu Mena (Egypt) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 44 COM 8C.2

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/21/44.COM/7A, WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add, WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add.2, WHC/21/44.COM/7A.Add.2.Add),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: