- Title: Egypt forges new plan to restore Cairo's historic heart
- Date: 29th September 2021
- Summary: CAIRO, EGYPT (RECENT - SEPTEMBER 5, 2021) (REUTERS) DOME OF AL-HAKIM MOSQUE AT HISTORIC CAIRO'S ZUWAYLA GATE / BUILDINGS IN FRONT OF MOSQUE DOME OF MOSQUE VARIOUS OF STREETS AND DECAYING OLD HOUSES AREA AROUND MOSQUE MOSQUE'S ANCIENT MINARET MUHAMMAD ALI MOSQUE SEEN IN DISTANCE / SURROUNDING BUILDINGS VARIOUS OF MINARETS OF OLD MOSQUES SURROUNDED BY BUILDINGS AS SEEN FROM A DISTANCE (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEAD COORDINATOR OF PROJECT TO RESTORE HISTORIC CAIRO, MOHAMED ELKHATIB, SAYING: "After the (January 25) revolution, many buildings were erected in historic Cairo that do not comply with the historic nature of the site in terms of style, design or approach. We are trying to restore the faÃ§ade (of newly erected buildings) in order to neutralize them so they blend in with the character of historic Cairo. These are the two main interventions in the first stage, we want to assure people that we are working to develop Cairo not erase it." VARIOUS OF ANCIENT MOSQUE DOME PART OF AL-HAKIM MOSQUE SURROUNDED BY BUILDINGS OLD EGYPTIAN FLAG ON ROOFTOP VARIOUS OF DOMES AND MINARETS SURROUNDED BY BUILDINGS VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WALKING IN ALLEYWAYS OF CARAVANSARIES KNOWN IN ARABIC AS 'WIKALA' (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEAD COORDINATOR OF PROJECT TO RESTORE HISTORIC CAIRO, MOHAMED ELKHATIB, SAYING: "Wikalas (caravansaries) in specific are located around the gates of historic Cairo, the northern and southern gates. Here we have the wikalas of Nafisa al-Bida and Radwan Bey. The wikalas were always concentrated around gates because merchants used to come and stay in them. In the area surrounding al-Hakim Mosque, there are wikalas that either disappeared completely and are only rubble, which we are trying to bring life to by rebuilding them from scratch. There are other wikalas where only one story remains, we will rebuild second floors if we have documentation of them. They will be used for crafts and as boutique hotels." AL-HAKIM MOSQUE VARIOUS OF ENTRANCE OF ZUWAYLA GATE AND AL-HAKIM MOSQUE / PEOPLE PASSING GATE SECOND STORY OF BUILDING DECORATIONS ON OLD WINDOW PEOPLE WALKING IN STREET WINDOWS OF AN OLD HOUSE NARROW ALLEYWAY TUKTUK MOVING IN STREET (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEAD COORDINATOR OF PROJECT TO RESTORE HISTORIC CAIRO, MOHAMED ELKHATIB, SAYING: "There are different levels in dealing with this. There is the restoration of historic buildings that are registered as heritage sites and unregistered buildings that we think have value. All of the facades of good buildings will be developed, which is nearly 70 to 80 percent of historic Cairo. But we cannot leave decaying or empty lots of land and say we will leave them in order not to turn it into Disneyland (as critics say) which is for sure irresponsible." AL-FOTOUH GATE SIGN READING (Arabic): "AL-FOTOUH GATE" VARIOUS OF AL-FOTOUH GATE SIGN READING (Arabic): "HISTORIC CAIRO RESTORATION PROJECT" CAR PASSING IN FRONT OF GATE VARIOUS OF AL-FOTOUH GATE / PEOPLE AND VEHICLES PASSING PART OF GATE CAR MOVING PAST GATE (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEAD COORDINATOR OF PROJECT TO RESTORE HISTORIC CAIRO, MOHAMED ELKHATIB, SAYING: "We have actually begun working on pieces of land here and around al-Hakim (mosque). We received the pieces of land and negotiations with residents have ended. We have begun. We have the site under our control and I'm here today to solve some problems at the site that need me to be present. We already started." TRAFFIC TRAFFIC MOVING PAST AL-FOTOUH GATE TRAFFIC PEOPLE PASSING GATE PART OF GATE WOMEN PASSING GATE DRIVING SHOT BETWEEN AL-FOTOUH AND AL-NASR GATE
- Embargoed: 13th October 2021 09:22
- Keywords: Egypt Historic Cairo History Restoration
- Location: CAIRO, EGYPT
- City: CAIRO, EGYPT
- Country: Egypt
- Topics: Arts/Culture/Entertainment,Middle East
- Reuters ID: LVA001EWRW09H
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Egypt is pushing ahead with a new project to restore historic Cairo, a sprawling but now rapidly crumbling thousand-year-old world heritage site, home to many a Tale in the One Thousand and One Arabian Nights.
The plan aims to revitalise and promote Cairo as a tourist attraction while the government prepares to move to a futuristic new capital in the desert.
It gives fresh impetus to efforts by professional architects and restorers to also save old buildings which they feared were being lost because of bureaucracy, official corruption and legal constraints.
Low-rise apartments will be built on vacant lots in the historic district, where residents and workshops will relocate as dilapidated structures are reconstructed and restored, said lead coordinator Mohamed Elkhatib.
He says that the project's budget will not be a problem, without giving an estimate, adding that the government is keen to approve any budget for it.
Workers will soon start improving facades of older buildings -- including those not officially listed as historic to match the vernacular of previous centuries.
The plan also involves converting several of the city's wikalas or caravansaries, into boutique hotels, an idea proven successful elsewhere in the Middle East.
"We have actually begun working on pieces of land," said Elkhatib. "Negotiations with residents have ended. We have begun."
The government intends to renovate about 10 percent of the area in an initial two-year phase and is studying proposals to create a single entity for historic Cairo's roughly 30 square Km (11.6 square miles), he said.
Much of the initial work will focus on restoring the districts around three grand gates built by Tunisia's Fatimid dynasty, which ruled for two centuries after its army conquered Cairo in 969 A.D.
One gate, Bab Zuwayla, and Habbaniya Street to its south, were scenes of vignettes in the One Thousand and One Arabian Nights.
Historic Cairo is dense with workshops, souks and dwellings, and crafts practised on some streets can be traced back centuries.
Some restorers and architects also worry about the complexity and cost of restoration, and the possibility it could lead to Disneyfication.
Elkhatib says the area's character will be preserved.
Some architects and restorers specialising in Islamic architecture say the government was now taking into account residents, crafts, historic fabric and infrastructure, rather than focussing on monuments alone.
Eventually much of the area will be converted into pedestrian zones.
(Production: Sayed Sheasha, Mai Shams El-Din)
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