1.         Memphis and its Necropolis – the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur (Egypt) (C 86)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1979

Criteria  (i)(iii)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/86/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1991-2007)
Total amount approved: USD 81,450
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/86/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the property: USD 100,000 for the Sphinx of Giza; Special Account for the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of Egypt; USD 310,381 for ‘Memphis and Thebes Sites Management Support’; USD 45,871 from the Netherlands Funds in Trust for strengthening national capacities for the implementation of World Heritage impact assessments; EUR 150,000 from the Government of France for Enhancing Capacities for the Protection of World Heritage Properties in Egypt (2020).

Previous monitoring missions

1993, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2001: missions concerning the conservation of the site and the Cairo Ring Road project. November 2014: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission; July 2015: ICOMOS Advisory mission; March 2017: Joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Advisory mission; January-February 2021: UNESCO Advisory mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/86/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2021

On 17 December 2020, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, a summary of which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/86/documents/ and presents progress with conservation issues addressed by the Committee at its previous sessions, as follows:

A UNESCO Advisory mission to Egypt took place from 30 January to 4 February 2021. The mission considered several issues related to the conservation of World Heritage properties, including Memphis and its Necropolis – the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur. High level meetings, onsite consultations and a workshop with site managers and focal points were held, in addition to a short online workshop prior to the mission to provide a detailed introduction to the 1972 World Heritage Convention and its Operational Guidelines.

The mission report (see https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/86/documents/) makes specific findings and offers recommendations regarding the proposed Ring Road connection, the Pyramids Security Project, the Giza Pyramids Plateau Development project, visitor management, boundary adjustments, including possible reduction of the current boundaries of the property, defining buffer zones, and proposed further capacity building initiatives.

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

The State Party continues to make progress in relation to capacity building and compliance with the requirements and processes of the World Heritage Convention and Operational Guidelines, with assistance from the Advisory Bodies and the World Heritage Centre. The 2021 UNESCO Advisory mission identified a number of significant issues, and the State Party should implement the mission recommendations, including the need for a unified and comprehensive Management Plan for the whole property. The improved state of conservation of Saqqara and the continued archaeological research, excavations and discoveries, which underscore the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and the comprehensive work undertaken by the Egyptian authorities to open new museums, should be acknowledged.

The 2021 mission noted that works for the Ring Road as an open road appeared to be progressing and recalled that the necessary documentation, with the related HIA, has not been submitted to the World Heritage Centre. In addition, the construction of another road in the Saqqara area appears to be underway. The World Heritage Centre has requested detailed information from the State Party.

The State Party advice that a tunnel is considered to have security issues for users is noted, but strong concern remains at the potential impact of any open tunnel or the Ring Road itself. The State Party should be encouraged to review the reasons and necessity for the road projects, and to complete necessary studies so that alternatives can be fully considered. The project should not move forward before a full review of technical reports and engineering designs to be submitted for review by the Advisory Bodies, and before being subject to a comprehensive HIA, prepared in accordance with the 2011 ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage Properties

The completion of the Giza Pyramids Plateau Development Project without referral to the World Heritage Centre in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and prior to consideration of the potential buffer zone for the Giza component of the property, is regretted. Nevertheless, the outcome of this initiative may improve protection of the property and visitor experiences. The 2021 mission noted that through initiatives such as electric buses, environmental considerations have also been addressed. The previously expressed concerns about the Pyramids Security Project remain and it is again recommended that the World Heritage Committee request the State Party to submit more comprehensive information on the proposed project, even though the works will be outside the property.

Consultation should be undertaken with the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS regarding any proposed modification of boundaries, for both the property and the buffer zone. A Minor Boundary Modification may be necessary for the Giza component of the property, to provide protection from increasing urban pressures in Cairo, in line with Paragraphs 163-164 of the Operational Guidelines. This matter might be addressed during the foreshadowed Reactive Monitoring mission, or through a separate process. The determination of any boundary revision of the property or the buffer zone should also have regard to the Retrospective Statement of OUV and should be submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review, as previously requested by the Committee.

The State Party’s intention to consider a unit whose tasks will be focused on preparing HIAs is welcome, and it is recommended that such initiatives build upon the 2019 and 2021 HIA workshops and the forthcoming detailed technical discussions to be addressed in the framework of the capacity building initiative that the World Heritage Centre is implementing with support from the Netherland Funds in Trust project and the Government of France.

In light of the above, and the outcomes of the 2021 mission, it is recommended that the Committee welcome the State Party’s invitation for a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to evaluate the property’s state of conservation, review the ongoing and planned projects, particularly the Cairo Ring Road project, and assess how they may affect the property’s OUV. It is further recommended that the State Party should provide the detailed HIA for each project to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies prior to the mission and that the State Party should expedite this mission as a matter of urgency.

Decision Adopted: 44 COM 7B.127

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7B.45 adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Commends the State Party on the progress made in relation to capacity building and compliance with the requirements and processes of the World Heritage Convention and Operational Guidelines, the improved state of conservation of Saqqara including continued archaeological research, excavations and discoveries, which underscore the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, and the comprehensive work undertaken by the Egyptian authorities to open new museums;
  4. Notes the findings and recommendations of the 2021 UNESCO Advisory mission and requests the State Party to implement the recommendations of the mission report, including the preparation of a unified and comprehensive Management Plan for the property;
  5. Also notes with concern that, works are proceeding on the Ring Road project through the Giza Plateau, and reiterates its request to the State Party to review the reasons and necessity for the project, and to complete necessary studies so that alternatives can be fully considered, and further notes strong concern at the potential impact of any solution outside a tunnel;
  6. Notes furthermore the previous Committee Decision that any project should only progress once all requested technical reports and subsequent Heritage Impact Assessments (HIAs) have been positively reviewed by the Advisory Bodies and appropriate mitigation measures and procedures for monitoring have been agreed, and reiterates its previous request to the State Party to:
    1. Complete a comprehensive archaeological assessment, incorporating results from remote sensing,
    2. Ensure that, following the review by the World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies, the final comprehensive ‘archaeological assessment report’ and the previous technical reports on traffic management and design details, inform the preparation of the engineering designs for the tunnel project,
    3. Finalize the HIA for the project, following the ICOMOS Guidance on HIAs for Cultural World Heritage Properties;
  7. Expresses regret that the Giza Pyramids Plateau Development Project has been completed without referral to the World Heritage Centre in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, and prior to consideration of the potential buffer zone for the Giza component of the property, but acknowledges that the project may improve protection of the property and visitor experiences;
  8. Also reiterates its previous request to the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, as soon as possible and in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, a detailed document providing comprehensive information about the proposed Pyramids Security Project;
  9. Further reiterates its previous request to the State Party to further strengthen the protection and management of the property, with particular regard to its Retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (SOUV), and by reviewing its boundaries, defining a buffer zone and submitting a Minor Boundary Modification request, in line with Paragraphs 163-164 of the Operational Guidelines;
  10. Also requests the State Party to consult the World Heritage Centre and ICOMOS regarding any proposed modification of boundaries, for both the property and the buffer zone, which should also have regard to the RSOUV, and to submit the above-mentioned Minor Boundary Modification request;
  11. Takes note with satisfaction that the State Party would welcome a joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission to the property as soon as possible to evaluate the property’s state of conservation and to review the ongoing and planned projects, including road projects, and assess how they may affect the property’s OUV, having particular regard to:
    1. The Pyramids Security Project,
    2. The proposed Ring Road project through the Giza Plateau,
    3. The Giza component of the property, and the impact of increasing urban pressure in Cairo,
    4. The appropriate boundary and buffer zone for the Giza component of the property,

      and further requests the State Party to provide the relevant documentation on all planned and ongoing projects, including a detailed HIA for each project, to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies prior to the mission;
  12. Welcomes the intention of the State Party to consider establishing a unit focused on preparing HIAs and encourages the State Party to build upon the 2019 and 2021 HIA workshops in the framework of the capacity building initiatives that the World Heritage Centre is implementing with the support of projects funded by Netherlands Funds in Trust and the Government of France;
  13. Requests furthermore the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 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 46th session.