Culture Heritage Management in Turkey and Egypt #1

In this article, we shall emphasize both the Turkish and Egyptian cultural heritages. The distinctions between them will be highlighted in next week’s article.

    Land of Turkey having hosted many civilizations, like Hattis, Troy, Hittites, Urartians, Lydians, Lycians, Pergamon, combines heritage roots of Europe and Asia. Turkey is, thus, noted by some researchers as being a “melting pot” of various cultures where classical culture was shaped. Turkey has a rich world heritage list. It contains seventeen WHS fifteen of which are cultural and two are mixed properties of both cultural and natural values. The number of these sites will probably increase because Turkish heritage inventory has not completed yet, as many valuable heritage sites are being discovered almost every day. Hence, to preserve this rich Turkish cultural heritage and to ensure its sustainability many efforts should be made. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is the main body responsible for preparing and processing the WHS with some international assistance.

Turkey has some cases that are considered among the best practices for preserving cultural heritage. In 2012, UNESCO announced on its official website that Historic Areas of Istanbul as one of the best practices in terms of conservation, local community, boundaries, sustainable development tourism and interpretation as well as other different aspects ( On the other hand, Turkey has also some issues to resolve regarding CHM. One critique about CHM is that sites were identified, nominated, and inscribed to the World Heritage List with no meaningful consultation of local communities and other stakeholders. The cultural heritage sites in Turkey seem to suffer from significant challenges even after inscription to UNESCO list. These challenges result from mainly lack of professional management and misuse of lands which could be recognized in most of the other developing countries as well. UNESCO and Turkey are working together to create effective tools and stronger policies for the sustainable development of historic Additionally, Turkey has a distinctive blend of natural and cultural attraction as well as, legislative framework, which all require effective management. Conservation efforts have been undertaken with legislation that was strict but weakly enforced and ill-equipped with implementation tools, and a centralized administrative. There is an also shortage in the planning process as it does not include the conservation policies, and this makes a gap in the Turkish conservation system. Turkey has performed many actions to realize its main goal to implement heritage management policies in the context of the World Heritage Convention. In 2004, Turkish authorities adopted the state’s heritage conservation legislation to bring Turkey’s heritage management in line with international standards to protect all listed heritage sites in Turkey. Turkish local councils on the conservation of the cultural heritage are controlling and monitoring all alterations in cultural heritage sites such as excavation works, development projects, construction, and demolition. Mostly the museums hold the management of archaeological sites in Turkey. The General Directorate of Waqf is responsible for preserving many Islamic monuments. Furthermore, the fountains, city walls and water channels are managed by the municipalities. City councils also allocate a specific amount of their budget for improving the historical properties (ICOMOS Turkey). On the other hand, due to many heritage sites in Turkey, it becomes so critical for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to carry out renovation and conservation plans at these sites (ICOMOS Turkey). Indeed, Turkey does not give any permission to the private sector to work at archaeological sites; it only gives the authority to the universities and museums to undertake all restoration missions and operations at these sites. Despite this fact, Turkey is working on the development of public and civil renovation projects to maintain the characteristic features of sites that have lost their original functions, through initiatives from academic research as well as practical applications (UNESCO, 2016). As the inventory of Turkish heritage properties is not finished yet, the demolition risk of unregistered heritage properties is also high (ICOMOS Turkey).

 Cultural Heritage Management in Egypt.

      Egypt is considered as one of the richest countries in the world regarding the number of heritage sites (Hang & Kong, 2008). Egypt’s Cultural Heritage has become more valuable because of its role in creating an image that is based on Pharaonic identity, while promoting the country as a tourism destination. It essentially depends on the unique and diversified blend of the cultural heritage sites such as, the pyramids, the temples in Luxor and Aswan, the mosques and churches in Cairo and many other treasures. Although Egypt is considered as an ideal case of a tourism destination which depends mainly on unique historical attractions, these attractions are facing many threats due to the urban development and tourism activities. Unfortunately, Egypt has difficulties in preserving its heritage (Hang & Kong, 2008; Cooper & Helmy, 2010). Cultural management practices of Egypt date back to the mid-19th century when the traditional approach was executed with little indication of a proper system. Egypt has started to improve the application of CHM system in their heritage sites relying on sustainability principles for a few decades. Egypt has faced severe social and political conditions since 2011 and many heritage sites were looted and destroyed due to the absence of a system for management and insufficient restoration and maintenance of cultural heritage sites. It is obvious that Egypt has serious problems at the cultural heritage landscape sites caused by the lack of comprehensive vision for management and conservation. The Supreme Council of Antiquities became the first responsible authority in Egypt – under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture – for the management and conservation of archeological sites. This Council has various responsibilities such as conservation and renewal work, research and scientific studies, the management and monitoring all the cultural heritage sites (Cooper & Helmy, 2010). However, there are other administrative organs and bodies concerned with cultural heritage and cultural landscapes in Egypt and they are working to assist the Supreme Council of Antiquities, each one in its fields. Many of the archaeological sites, including the WHS like Giza pyramids and Saqqarah, are suffering from the lack of an integrated program of site management. This inadequacy can cause negative impacts for the conservation of the monuments as well as the tourist experience. Besides, Egypt confronts difficulties to preserve these sites because of its unhealthy financial situation. The government can hardly allocate sufficient budget for these treasures’ upkeep (Hang & Kong, 2008). Therefore, many international associations are supporting numerous of heritage sites in Egypt financially, for restoration, conservation, and technical support. In the last five decades, a lot of attempts have been made to ameliorate the cultural heritage sites and their facilities. Accordingly, many changes have been undertaken in legislation framework and in the planning process. Despite all the efforts of authorities, many obstacles – such as economic, social, technical, and political problems- still stand which make the implementation a hard work (Abada, 2008). Generally, the governmental bodies in Egypt give more attention to the world cultural heritage sites in UNESCO list and they disregard other cultural heritage sites which are not registered in the list.

Rahma Qader,

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