Governor announces renovation initiative in Old Cairo

Rawan Ezzat, Saturday 20 Jun 2015

A new campaign launched Saturday aims to spur restoration in Darb Al-Ahmar, Al-Hilmeya, Al-Sayeda Nafisa and Al-Sayeda Zeinab in the holy month of Ramadan

Galal Saeed
Galal Saeed (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Governor of Cairo Galal Saeed announced Saturday the launch of a new campaign for the development of heritage sites in Old Cairo, governorate spokesperson Khaled Mostafa said.

The initiative will include the Old Cairo districts of Al-Darb Al-Ahmar, Al-Gamaliya, Al-Helmiya, Al-Sayeda Zeinab and Al-Sayed Nafisa, Mostafa told Ahram Online.

He added that they main work will be renovating streets, not whole districts. For instance, in Darb Al-Ahmar the initiative will work on Haram Rabea and part of Khan El-Khalili.

Amongside the renovation process, Mostafa said the governorate will try to find alternate activities for shop owners in the area, to suit its historical significance.

"If a shop owner works on tires we will convince him to change his current job in order to work on something that suits the heritage of the street, such as working on aluminum, glass, copper or even pottery," Mostafa said.

Along with the governorate, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) will also contribute to the development of the area.

AKDN is a private, international, non-denominational development organisation. It offers job training and employment opportunities in Darb Al-Ahmar, according to the AKDN website.

Cairo governorate has recently been making renovations in Khedeval Cairo, the Downtown district built by Egyptian rulers in the 19th century.

"The renovation of Khedivial Cairo will not clash with the renovation of the historical sites, but will add to it, as the more we wait, the more the historical sites deteriorate," said Mostafa.

The campaign will kick off Saturday, but according to Mostafa it is impossible to state when the development of heritage sites in Old Cairo will be completed.

"It is a long process, as we have to study the area very carefully. However, within a month we plan to finish a part in Darb Al-Ahmar, in order to have a general overview of what we can fix or work on more," stated Mostafa.

Many have accused the government of neglecting for decade heritage sites in Old Cairo neighbourhoods.

The districts include parts of Islamic Cairo — listed as a UNESCO world heritage site — and are home to some of Egypt's most prominent Islamic monuments.

The initiative aims to renovate heritage buildings and develop the area's infrastructure by paving streets and sidewalks as well as maintaining the area's street lighting and removing street vendors.

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