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ASSESSING THE AGA KHAN CONSERVATION AND URBAN

REVITALIZATION PROJECTS

(THE CASE STUDIES OF AL-DARB AL-AHMAR IN CAIRO,


AND THE HUMAYUN’S TOMB - NIZAMUDDIN BASTI IN
DELHI)
Doaa Ahmed Shehata Abouelmagd
Architecture Department, Faculty of Fine Arts, Helwan Univeristy, Egypt
Email: dooa_abo@yahoo.com & dabouelmagd@gmail.com

Abstract
The two remarkable Aga Khan Conservation and Urban Revitalization Projects took place
respectively in Cairo and Delhi. In the1980’s Cairo was gifted a green heart, which was later
in the 1990th formulated into the Azhar park project. Similarly, in 1997 the Humayun’s Tomb
Garden restoration was announced as a gift to India on the 50th anniversary of Independence.
The two projects continued in the 2000s with a conservation and urban revitalization
schemas, which included historical building restoration, housing improvement and socio-
economic development programs.
This paper analyzes the two projects and assesses the situation of the historical conservation,
the housing and socio-economic programs in 2016 and 2017. The methodology adapted in
this research is based on literature review, and site visits to the projects in both Egypt and
India. The paper argues that in Egypt the project has declined and deteriorated after 2011
political event and the district suffered from the construction of informal buildings, while in
India, the project has succeeded to continue successfully. This paper raises public awareness
toward historical districts, and ensures the importance to find a mechanism to guarantee the
continuity of the conservation and urban revitalization of the historical sites. The paper
concludes with findings and recommendations

Keywords
Conservation, Urban revitalization, Historical sites, Aga Khan, Egypt, India.

1- Introduction
The Aga Khan Historic Cities Program (AKHCP) has worked in nine different countries that
has Islamic heritage within different urban context. The Aga Khan projects in both Cairo and
Delhi present outstanding examples of the private public partnership (PPP) for urban
conservation and revitalizations in two listed world heritage sites [15].
The two projects started similarity with urban development of open spaces presented as a gift
to the two countries, then extended to cover historical building conservation, urban
revitalization and socio-economic development projects. In Egypt in 2005, the Azhar Park
was created, the project started as a dream in the beginnings of the 1990s; it transformed an
abandoned garbage dump in Cairo to a beautiful Islamic landscape garden. The project
removed 1.5 million cubic meters of rubble and soil and discovered the hidden 12th century
Ayyubid wall. After the discovery, the project extended to restore the landmark buildings in
al-Darb al-Ahmar district, this started with the 14th century Umm al Sultan Shabaan mosque
and the Khayrebek complex, they were both opened after restoration in 2007. The project then
continued with conservation of other historical buildings and the urban generation and socio
economic development of the district [20].

Electronic copy available at: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3171848


The Conservation and Restoration Projects were funded and managed by the Aga Khan Trust
for Culture in cooperation with the local Egyptian authorities such as the Supreme Council of
Antiquities, Cairo governorate and other several institutions [2].

In India, in 2004, the Humayun’s Tomb garden restoration was completed, it was the gift to
India on the 50th anniversary of independence, the project was the first private fully funded
project for the development of a world heritage site in India, it included the restoration of
fountains, pathways, and water channels of an early model of a Mughal garden tomb. Later in
2012, Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) and the Aga Khan Foundation in partnership with
the Archaeological Survey of India, the Central Public Works Department and the Municipal
Corporation of Delhi, have continued the cooperation with the conservation, urban generation
and socio economic development of the Nizamuddin heritage, it comprises the areas of Hazrat
Nizamuddin Basti, Sundar Nursery and the World Heritage Site of Humayun’s tomb [21-4]

This paper analyzes and assesses the two project in both Egypt and India by evaluating the
socio-economic programs, and the urban regeneration projects, to find mechanisms to
guarantee the continuity of the conservation and urban revitalization of the historical sites.
Following the introduction, the paper is divided into six sections, it ends with conclusion and
recommendations.

2- Heritage Conservation and Urban Revitalization


The concept of protecting cultural heritage sites raised after WWI, and matured with the
international safeguarding campaign launched by UNESCO to save Abu Simbel temples in
Egypt. But the first actual international movement to protect cultural and natural heritage goes
back to 1979 with UNESCO World Heritage Convention that links together the concepts of
nature conservation and the preservation of cultural properties, the convention recognizes the
potential sites and how to protect and preserve them. In 2005, Vienna Memorandum
introduced the concept “historic Urban Landscape” it explained that the conservation process
should include the monuments and its surroundings. The historic Urban Landscape is a part of
the place based on social development and holds social-economic and cultural values, it
includes land use and patterns, spatial organization, visual relations, natural environment and
infrastructure [16-1].

Protecting the cultural heritage involves both tangible and intangible components through
historic Urban Landscape. While tangible heritage contains the physical objects of the
heritage like buildings, monuments and art crafts that are worth to be preserved for the future,
Intangible heritage means the oral traditions, customs, performing arts, living experiences,
and knowledge to produce traditional crafts. It aims to protect the physical assets, and to
preserve its practices, history, and environment, and a sense of continuity and identity [17].

Conservation is not about freezing a place and denying the process of development, but it
links the development to the context of the place, therefore the cultural heritage preservation
and conservation go beyond the physical restoration of the physical assets, they contain the
preservation of the community, its culture, and generate opportunities for job creation and
poverty alleviation. Furthermore, heritage conservation is strongly connected with two
concepts, heritage tourism and poverty. Usually heritage sites are occupied with poor and
surrounded with deprived neighborhood, the poor community should find potentials in the
development process to improve their quality of live and generate money [23-1-11].

Electronic copy available at: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3171848


The Aga Khan projects in Cairo and New Delhi aimed to protect the tangible and intangible
heritage of the two sites and extend with the urban revitalization projects to upgrade the
neighborhoods that include: economic and social infrastructure, public spaces, housing, and
improve the quality of life of the communities. In the following sections, the paper will
explain the development process, analyze and assesses them.

3- Methodology
Besides the literature review, the methodology used to collect data for this paper was based on
the technical visits to the two projects in both Egypt and India, interviews with dwellers in
Egypt and India, and lectures given by housing experts in India. The data for Egypt was
collected from 2015 to 2017, several field visits to the district took place in June 2015,
October 2015, February 2016, October 2016, March 2017, April 2017and June 2017.
Interviews with Aga Khan experts and residents took place in June 2015 and October 2016,
the counting of numbers of tourists took place respectively in 21st of March and 8th of April
2017. The counting was completed under the instructions and supervision of the author and
by the author’s students during completing their assignment in al-Darb al-Ahmar monuments.
The author has also compared satellite google maps for al-Drab al-Ahmar to track the change
of the urban fabric and the construction of the informal buildings between 2011 to 2017. The
data for India was collected by the author as a part of the professional training program
“Formal Solutions to Informal Settlements” conducted in India from 19th September 2016 till
28th October 2016, organized by the Human Settlement Management Institute (HSMI).

4- Historical Cairo and Al-Darb Al-Ahmar district


There is an official strong intension to protect the Egyptian heritage through its monuments,
antiquities and historical sites. the current law dealing with antiquities is law number (117)
formed in year 1983, and its modifications with law number (3) in year 2010. The main
organization that supervises the antiquities is the Supreme council of Antiquities established
in 1994. And in 2004, the National Organization for Urban Harmony was established to deal
with heritage buildings and sites. Heritage buildings are those buildings with architectural and
historical importance but not considered antiquities. Egypt has seven listed sites as world
heritage sites, six are build environmental sites and one is a natural site. Historical Cairo is
listed as a world heritage site since 1979, it was founded in the 10th century and is one of the
world's oldest Islamic cities, it has many Islamic antiquities and historical buildings. Only in
2010, the Egyptian official bodies in collaboration with the UNESCO has launched the Urban
Regeneration Project for Historic Cairo (URHC) as a holistic project to protect and regenerate
historical Cairo, and for the first time the buffer zones of the Egyptian world heritage site
have been identified aiming to prepare the necessary planning and management tools for the
conservation, find special building regulations, create institutional capacities, and spread
awareness among professionals and public. The URHC project finished its second phase in
2014 and has announced the start of the third phase in 2017 during the writing of this paper
[16-10].

Prior to the URHC, Old Cairo experienced several pilot conservation projects and studies, we
can name here: The UNESCO study to conserve old Cairo in 1980 as one of the first early
studies to analyze the problems that face the historical site, the conservation and urban
regeneration project in al-Darb al-Asfar from 1994-2001, the UNDP report to rehabilitate old
Cairo in 1997, the Historical Cairo Rehabilitation Project (HCRP) from 1998- 2006 that
succeed in restoring 147 monuments and 48 historical buildings, the Rehabilitation project of
old Cairo (The religion’s center) 1999-2002, al-Darb al-Ahmar urban regeneration project in

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collaboration with the Aga Khan in 2000s, and finally Sayeda Zainab rehabilitation project
(two stages were implemented from 2002-2004) [9].

The urban regeneration project in al-Darb al-Ahmar was conducted by the Aga Khan in
collaboration with Egyptian authorities, it was funded by the AKTC and its partner funding
agencies, with support from the Governorate of Cairo and the Supreme Council of Antiquities
Despite the unique architectures and history of al-Darb al-Ahmar, the households of the
district are from the poorest in Egypt, with an average income of less than one dollar per day,
and 50% of their income is spent on food. Some inhabitants still practice traditions vocations
including carpentry, tile making, and other small crafts. The housing stock prior to the Aga
Khan project lacked maintenance and housing stock was in a deteriorated condition and many
scholars called it inner city slum [8-13].

The urban regeneration project aimed to achieve: housing rehabilitation and socio-economic
development, monuments restoration, and infrastructure and public spaces development. In
2012, the financial support of the project has been withdrawn, the project was left in the hands
of some NGOs that worked with the project since its beginning, and Mezala for social
development was initiated as a local NGO of Aga Khan cultural services [9 & site visit to the
district].

4-1 The Aga Khan Urban Regeneration Project


4-1-a Housing Rehabilitation Program (HRP)
After the discovery of the historical Ayyubid wall during the construction of Azhar park, the
housing rehabilitation program was initiated to save the houses attached to the wall, the two
main problems were the wet areas of these houses, and the location of some of them above or
attached to the 12th century Ayyubid wall. In 1999 and 2003 respectively two survey were
conducted, the first to detect the suitable planning policies and housing strategies in the pilot
area of Aslam mosque, and the second to identify al-Darb al-Ahmar housing and households’
profiles. The AKTC concentrated its efforts on three Action areas (see figure 1). In 2011, 121
houses were rehabilitated and constructed and 285 households were provided secured tenure
status. The HRP included three types of housing rehabilitation: complete rehabilitation,
minimal intervention in the wet areas and deteriorated elevations, and free technical design
for vacant lots [8-3 & and site visits]

Unfortunately, in 2011, the HRP stopped, and in 2017, by comparing google maps (2011-
2012), (2012-2014), (2014-2015), (2015-2017) 63 cases of informal constructions and
changing in heights could be detected (see figures 2, 3, 4), most of the constructions occurred
during (2012-2015) period due to the problems with security control. That’s besides the
demolishing process that occurred and threated the historical urban fabric there. Two cases
could be named here, the cases of the two heritage buildings of Beit El- Mohandes and Beit
Madkour, while the first was demolished by its owner, the second was saved by the national
campaign of “Save Cairo”, but it was left in a deteriorated condition. Besides the demolishing
and new constructions there is the phenomena of the informal raising of buildings by adding
new floors. The number of the 63 buildings is not precise, the number is estimated to be more,
but due to official complication of completing a survey the author had to do the comparison
using google earth maps. It is a strong indicator of the significant change that happened in the
last few years and the threat that faces the historical sites. Moreover, the rehabilitated houses
lack maintenance and supervision to keep their condition in a good shape.

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Figure 1, The Aga khan priority zones of
intervention, source: [13]

Figure 3, the Figure 4, the informal


informal buildings in buildings in al-Darb al- Figure 2, The new informal buildings in a
al-Darb al-Ahmar Ahmar Bab el Wazir st. selected part of al-Darb al-Ahmar, source:
Darb Shoughlan st., towards el Kheyameya, modified from Google earth
source: taken by the source: taken by the
author in June 2017 author in June 2017
4-1-b Monuments restoration and Tourism Promotion
By 2015, the Aga Khan completed the restoration of seven major historic monuments.
Moreover, a Protocol between the Aga khan and ministry of antiquity was signed in 2016 to
complete an annual maintenance for the restored monuments. In 2007, a major restoration
was completed to Umm al Sultan Shabaan mosque and the Khayrebek complex, parallel the
Aga Khan completed a preliminary study to propose tourist routes in al-Darb al-Ahmar which
unfortunately is not a part of the typical international tourist routes in Cairo. The routes
suggested linking al-Azhar Park through Bab al-Mahruq one of the Ayyubid gate; one route is
already proposed to visitors through Azhar park website. In the study, The Aga khan assessed
the enterprises along the routes that included the food beverages, and local crafts; the area
lacked suitable hotels, café shops, juice shops, toilets and bazars, the study suggested
solutions and the project added signposts to direct the visitors to the district. Furthermore, the
Aga khan suggested the creation of Bab al-Mahruq open “piazza” above the gate’s
archaeological remains to connect the district with the park. Till 2017, the tourist routes and
Bab al-Mahruq open “piazza” were never implemented and the number of tourists visiting
historical monuments is low [12-3-13 & Site visits to the area since 2014].

In 2017, the author has planned and supervised two surveys in two of the Aga Khan restored
monuments: Khayrebek complex and the Blue mosque. The survey was conducted during the
21st of March 2017, the 8th of April 2017 from 10am to 2:00 pm. In the two days, the were no

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international tourists nor national tourists as well in the two monuments, only during the noon
pray, some prayers prayed in the blue mosque. It should be mentioned here that the tourism
sector in Egypt is facing a decline since 2011, due to the revolution and its following political
events, some high-profile airline disasters, and fear of security, it reached the lowest number
in 2016 with only 5.4 million in comparison with 14.7 m in 2010 [14].

4-1-c Urban Infrastructure, and Open Spaces Upgrading


The Aga Khan project included the development of the basic urban infrastructure (Water,
sewer system and electricity), positively it changed all the water supply pipes from
international forbidden lead with a new system. The Aga Khan project achieved 5,500m² of
streets paved, three public open spaces were rehabilitated and created and 3.1km of
underground sewage systems installed. The public spaces lack necessary maintenance, Aslam
square one of the three public spaces was designed to be the main node for the visitors of the
Azhar park to explorer the area, the design included a gallery for selling handcrafts produced
by local and traditional craftsmen. In 2017, Aslam square became a parking area, the gallery
is always closed and the spot became a garage for cars (see figures 5 and 6 for comparison)
[3-13].

Figure 5, Aslam al-Silahdar square after Figure 6, Aslam al-Silahdar square in


the renovation, source: [2] 2017, source: taken by the author in
June 2017

4-1-d The social- economic development program


The social economic program developed by the Aga Khan included access to: credit,
employment and basic social services (education, health care, solid waste disposal). Since
2001, the AKTC introduced several initiatives that included waste collection management
program, employment program, microcredit program, lime production center and a carpentry
workshop engaged with the AKTC’s restoration projects and since 2005 both have become
part of AKTC’s vocational training program. Furthermore, the former Darb Shoughlan School
was restored and transformed to al- Darb al-Ahmar Community Centre that provided
educational, cultural and women’s activities, it also provided activities for children and
teenagers [13].

With the withdrawal of the AKTC in 2011, several NGOs were founded to take the Aga Khan
role in the district. Mezala for social development association was initiated in 2012 as the
legal NGO of Aga Khan culture services in Egypt. Actively, Mezala the main successor for
Aga Khan continued educational, cultural and women’s activities, and the vocational training
programs (i.e. carpentry, Khayameya Art work, accessories, embroidery and leather work)
(see figure 7), a permanent kiosk in the Azhar park is located to sell their products.
Furthermore, al-Darb al-Ahmar Arts Schools was founded in 2011 in partnership with Al-
Mawred Al-Thaqafy (Cultural Resource), a Cairo based NGO to encourage the children and
young adult (6-18 years old) to perform circus arts, theatre, and music, in 2017 the school is
still successfully active. Another NGO is Aga Khan Masr for wooden and arts crafts, it was
active till 2013, the author did not find any evidence if the NGO is still working or not.

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Another pilot project was Mobadra to develop al-Darb al-Ahmar, the focus of the project was
on education, solid waste collection and literacy, again it stooped in 2015 after the end of the
fund from USAAID. It should be noted here that during the author’s visit to the area in June
2015, the area was suffering from a huge solid waste collection problem (see figure 8), this
was solved in the later visits in 2016 and 2017. Governmental workers were responsible for
collecting the garbage but without any indication that this is done in cooperation with the
local community.

The author has visited Mezala association in June 2015 and October 2016. The association is
active and workshops and trainings are held for the trainees who come from the district or
neighbor’s districts like Gamalia. But the scale of the program and publicity cannot be
comparable with the Aga Khan period. In June 2015 and again in October 2016, twenty
interviewees from residents and workers were randomly chosen from the district, they were
asked about Mezala association its activities and programs, no one knew Mezala or its
activities, although they all knew the Aga Khan. Publicity of Mezala activities is mainly
reached through, previous trainees and Facebook page.

Figure 7, accessories workshop in Mezala Figure 8, The solid waste


association, source: Taken by the author in collection problem, source: Taken
June 2015 by the author in June 2015

5- Heritage sites in India, the Humayun’s Tomb and Nizamuddin Basti district in
Delhi
In 2017, India has 36 listed heritage sites in which 28 are cultural sites, seven natural and one
mixed. Cultural preservation has a long history in India, the principal actor now is the
Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), it was founded in 1861, it aimed to start a legal
provision to protect the historical structures all over India. ASI is now the leading
organization for the archaeological researches and protection of the cultural heritage, its last
efforts were achieved in 2017 by listing the walled city of Ahmadabad, founded in the 15th
century, as the first historical city in India to be listed in the world heritage list. Different Acts
and laws were formulated along with the establishment of several organizations to protect the
Indian heritage and historical sites. For example, in 1958, the Ancient Monuments and
Archaeological Sites and remains Act and its Rules in 1959 were approved, in 2010, Ancient
Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains was formulated. In 1984, Indian National
Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) was founded to revive the awareness for the
conservation of cultural heritage sites and monuments [18-7-19].

In 1993, the Mughal Humayun’s Tomb was listed as a world heritage site, it is the first
garden-tomb in the Indian subcontinent and an early example of how the Mughal architecture
reached its top represented in Taj Mahal. In 1997, the Humayun’s Tomb Garden restoration
was announced by the Aga Khan as a gift to India on the 50th anniversary of Independence.

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The Mughal Humayun’s Tomb’s gardens with flowing water were restored in partnership
between the AKTC, ASI, and Central Public Works Department and the Municipal
Corporation of Delhi (1997 -2003). Following the completing of the gardens restoration, an
urban renewal project started in 2007 to compose the preservation of the tomb complex and
included the neighboring areas of Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti, and Sundar Nursery (see figure
9). The project was co-funded with other national and international partners. It aimed to
improve the residents’ quality of life, generate new economic activities, achieve civil society
engagement in urban development, use culture as a tool for development, and revive the
traditional crafts to be applied as an approach to conserve the buildings [18-21-5].

5-1 The Aga Khan Project


5-1-a Housing Improvement
the Aga Khan project has undertaken several housing improvements in partnership with the
residents (see figure 10). Unlike the Egyptian case, the residential buildings are not
considered historical, therefore, the focus of the development was in the Indian case on
upgrading the living conditions of the residents by improving lighting, ventilation, buildings’
structures, wet areas, and buildings’ facades. During the author’s visit to the Hazrat
Nizamuddin Basti it was clear that there are many houses that still need improvements,
especially regarding their facades [6 and site visit].

5-1-b Monuments restoration and Tourism Promotion


In 2015, the conservation work on Humayun’s Tomb and over 45 distinctive constructions
have been completed using traditional tools and old building techniques. During the eight
years of working, the project employed: stone carvers, master craftsmen, carpenters, and
plasterers mostly from the area with over 500,000 days of work (see figure 11). After the
conservation, the historical site got a 1000% increase in its visitors’ numbers as a part of the
conservation effort that reached two million annual visitors. The Ministry of Tourism,
Government of India, announced the Humayun’s Tomb as an Adarsh Monument which
means that advanced visitor facilities are to be provided. A museum and an interpretation
center will be created to include permanent and temporary exhibitions, multipurpose halls,
souvenir shop, café shop and other amenities [6-22].

Sundar Nursery

Humayun’s
Tomb

Nizamuddin
Basti

Figure 9, the boarders of Nizamuddin Figure 10, Housing Figure 11, Humayun’s
Urban Renewal project, source: modified improvement, Tomb and the restored
from Google earth source: photo taken by gardens, source: photo taken
the author in October by the author in October
2016 2016

In 2010, a self-help Group of community heritage volunteers (SHG) was initiated to conduct
heritage walks in the project area. A heritage awareness program has been established with

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many government and private schools in Delhi and National Capital region. The walks
covered not only the history of sites but also the identity, traditions, and social life of the
residents. Till 2015 the SHG group members have conducted heritage walks for 2197 students
and 552 visitors [6].

5-1-c Infrastructure, and Open Spaces Upgrading


The Basti was one of the poorest and densest populated areas in Delhi, prior to the project
only two percent of the residents could access the open spaces as the they were occupied by
rag pickers and drug dealers. The project undertook open spaces and street improvement after
analyzing the urban settings, and as area is populated with a conservative Muslim community,
the development of four parks included a community park, and another one for only Women
and Children (see figure 12). The Parks are maintained by community groups supported by
the project, a monthly groups meeting is held with the women users at Women and Children
Park, underlining issues of maintenance and any users’ concerns. In 2008, a baseline survey
indicated that 25% of the households in Nizamuddin Basti do not have toilet facilities, this led
the AKTC to build two community toilets with baths and washing areas, and repair the
sewage systems in and around the monuments within the urban renewal project. The
management of community toilets complex is under the community group Rehmat Nigrani
Samooh with the supervision of the project team, and includes a filtration plant which is
installed to filter the bathing water and use it for flushing the toilets [6 and site visit].

5-1-d The social- economic development program


The socio-economic program includes education, vocational training, health care, solid waste
management, information center and employment. Four educational approaches were
implemented to develop the residents: early childhood care, elementary education, adolescent
education, and livelihood through vocational education. Through these approaches several
programs were initiated: program for teaching English for employability, theater workshops,
preschool curriculum, children growth monitoring program, parenting program, vocational
programs, and computer courses. The local elementary school was physically improved (see
figure 13), the classroom processes through community teachers and management were
improved, and after school programs were created. All that resulted in higher rates of
enrolment in the preschools and all levels of education. Vocational programs resulted in
making it possible for all the youth to access vocational education and 17% of women over 18
years have their own income after completing advanced training (i.e. the crafts of embroidery,
garment construction and crochet) to generate their own sources of income. “INSHA” Crafts
Centre and the self-group of women “Noor” brand and sell their products through permanent
kiosk in the site of Humayun’s Tomb. Famous shops like FabIndia, sell the products of these
groups in their stores, the products have special designs inspired from the history and culture,
and are known to be produced by the Basti women which give them an added value (see
figures 14) [6 and site visit].

The project initiated health programs, the municipal clinic was developed, a pathology
laboratory was initiated and provided with specialists and equipment. The clinic applied a
family health monitoring system. The health programs included: Mother and child heath,
immunization, and nutrition awareness program to face malnutrition. In 2012, the “Zaika
Nizamuddin” women group was initiated as a response to address malnourishment of young
children in Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti [6 and site visit].

In 2009, a solid waste management program was started in the Basti with a community
involvement. Regular meetings are held in open spaces to address issues of waste disposal by

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the Municipal Corporation cleaning staff and participation of the residents in street waste
inspections. An information center “Rehnumai resource center”, was established to link the
community with the governmental facilities and help them to get official documents,
information and employment [6-13].

Figure12, Children Figure 13, the local elementary Figure 14, Products
garden, source: photo school, produced by the women in
taken by the author in source: photo taken by the author the craft center, source:
October 2016 in October 2016 photo taken by the author,
October 2016
6- Conclusion and Findings
Aga Khan projects in Cairo and Delhi are lead examples of conservation and urban
revitalization projects, the two countries have a rich Islamic heritage. The development
implied covered both tangible and intangible heritage, and focused on humans as a base for
development. It included not only the monuments, physical buildings and urban fabric but
also the quality of lives for local communities.

The Aga Khan project in al-Darb al-Ahmar was a lead for the Aga Khan following projects in
the different countries. Unfortunately, the withdrawal of the Aga Khan from al-Darb al-
Ahmar project without strong successors and especially in the economic and political
environment that Egypt was facing due to the revolution in 2011 and its following political
events, led to a significant decline in the economic and social programs, discontinuing of the
housing rehabilitation, deterioration in public spaces, and a decline in the numbers of tourists
visiting the restored monuments. There is a clear absence of the Egyptian ministry of tourism
in promoting the district, and the tourist routes were never implemented as well.
Unfortunately, the current channels of funding are limited and mainly depending on
governmental resources. The Aga Khan project in Egypt depended on creating a base of
NGOs to sustain the project. Although many NGOs are still active, but they are not strong
enough to continue in the same scale of the Aga Khan associations.

In the Indian case of Delhi, the Aga Khan was keen to create community based groups in each
program to guarantee the durability of the project, in case of any sudden withdrawal or stop of
funding from the Aga Khan, the project will sustain through these groups and the other
national partners. The varieties in co-funding channels from Indian and international
organizations and the involvement of the community also helped the Aga Khan to financially
sustain the project.

As explained in the paper the community based groups in socio-economic programs, and
tourism promotion through volunteers are the lead in achieving sustainability. The support of
the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, and the Indian official bodies to create a
museum and an interpretation center to attract more visitors is considered a great step towards
increasing the tourism promotion. Trust and communication between the local community

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and official bodies was and is still achieved with the help of the Aga Khan, two good
examples are the waste management system and the information center.

In the Egyptian case the third phase of URHC is launched in 2017 in Historical Cairo aiming
to create investment opportunities, successful urban renewal and community development.
The two very strong lessons learned from the India case: are the importance of community
based groups to sustain the development and the various funding channels from private
sectors and other charities.

7- Recommendations
1- Public Private Partnership is essential for the success of any development project but
Public Private People Partnership (PPPP) can achieve a higher level of sustainability,
the four PPPP approach should be implemented in the coming URHC project.
2- The development of heritage sites cannot be done separated from the improvement of
the community itself, developing the communities’ quality of life and creation of
community based groups is the main guarantee to achieve sustainable development in
different programs.
3- In any development project, a risk management plan must be prepared, the revolution
and the political events that happened in Egypt, the high-profile airline disasters, and
fear of security all led to a significant drop in the international tourists’ numbers,
unfortunately national tourists are also absent as well from the historical sites, more
awareness should be drawn towards national tourists and children through schools and
universities.
4- Trust and communication between local communities and official bodies should be
achieved to guarantee the sustainability of the project, this should be done through the
participation of community groups in decision making and governmental projects. It
could also be achieved through the creation of an information center with the support
of official bodies as happened in the Indian case.
5- Funding of such projects should not depend on only one channel, it should include
governmental bodies, private investors and various nonprofit NGOs.

8- Acknowledgment
This paper was only possible to be completed because of experience and knowledge the author gained through
the six weeks professional training program “Formal Solutions to Informal Settlements” conducted in India from
19th September 2016 to 28th October 2016 organized by the Human Settlement Management Institute (HSMI)
under the International Technical & Economic Cooperation program (ITEC) and fully sponsored by the Ministry
of External Affairs, Government of India; an appreciation and a thank you go to the HSMI team and the Indian
experts for their coordination, hospitality and support during my stay in India and during the visits to the sites.
An appreciation goes also to the residents and experts in al-Darb al-Ahmar and Mezala association. Another
thank you goes as well to Ms. Raneem Ahmed for helping in creating al- Darb al-Ahmar informal housing map
and Eng. Shaimaa Abouelmagd for reading and reviewing the paper. A final appreciation is given to the students
of the courses of “Basic Architecture Design”, Department of Interior Design, Faculty of Arts and Design, MSA
University and Sculpture department, Faculty of Fine Arts, Helwan University for counting the tourists in the
historical buildings during their visit to complete their assignments in the spring of the academic year (2016-
2017).

9- References

Books
1. Jain, A., k. (2015), “Conservation of Cultural Heritage”, Discovery Publishing House PVT.LTD New Delhi,
India
Online publications

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2. AKCS, Aga Khan Cultural Service Egypt, “The Cultural Heritage of Al-Darb Al-Ahmar Historic Cairo –
Egypt”, [Electronic version], URL: http://www.azharpark.com/Bro_Azhar_final.pdf, accessed July. 15,
2017.
3. Aga Khan press release (2015), “The Blue Mosque of Cairo restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture”,
[Electronic version], URL: http://www.akdn.org/press-release/blue-mosque-cairo-restored-aga-khan-trust-
culture, accessed July. 20, 2017.
4. AKTC (2007), “Aga Khan Trust for Culture in public-private partnership for regeneration of Humayun’s
Tomb-Nizamuddin Basti-Sundar nursery area”, [Electronic version], URL: http://www.akdn.org/press-
release/aga-khan-trust-culture-public-private-partnership-regeneration-humayuns-tomb, accessed July. 20,
2017.
5. AKTC (2013), “Humayun’s Tomb - Sundar Nursery - Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti Urban Renewal Initiative,
project brief, Delhi, India”, [Electronic version], URL:
www.akdn.org/file/48581/download?token=6BHIpzXs, accessed July. 20, 2017.
6. AKTC (2015), “Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative, annual report”, [Electronic version], URL:
http://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/publications/2015_
annual_report_nizamuddin_urban_renewal_initiative.pdf, accessed July. 17, 2017.
7. CPWD (2013), Central Public Works Department, Directorate General, “Handbook of Conservation of
Heritage Buildings”, [Electronic version], URL:
http://cpwd.gov.in/Publication/ConservationHertBuildings.pdf, accessed July. 22, 2017
8. UCLG Committee on Social Inclusion, (2010), “Participatory Democracy and Human Rights, The al-Darb
al-Ahmar Housing Rehabilitation Programme”, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) – Inclusive
Cities Laboratory. [Electronic version], URL: https://www.uclg-
cisdp.org/sites/default/files/Cairo_2010_en_FINAL.pdf, accessed July. 10, 2017.
9. UNESCO (2012), “Urban Regeneration project for Historic Cairo, first phase report (2010-2012)”, Arabic
version, [Electronic version], URL: https://www.whc.unesco.org/document/120190, accessed July. 10, 2017
10. URHC (2017), “Urban Regeneration project for Historic Cairo (URHC)”, [Electronic version], URL:
http://www.urhcproject.org, accessed July. 8, 2017.
11. World bank (2010), “Safer Homes, Stronger Communities: A Handbook for Reconstructing after Natural
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10, 2017.

Reports
12. Aga Khan (2007), “Proposed Tourist Routes
Linking al-Azhar Park & al-Darb al-Ahmar, a Preliminary
Study of Investment Potential & Requirements”, Cairo: Aga Khan Trust of Culture.
13. AKTC, Aga Khan Trust for Culture (2005). “Cairo Urban Regeneration in the Darb al-Ahmar District. A
Framework for Investment”, Historic Cities Support Programme.

Websites
14. CAPMAS, “Number of tourists visiting Egypt in years”, URL:
http://www.capmas.gov.eg/Pages/IndicatorsPage.aspx?page_id=6133&ind_id=2251, (2016), accessed on
July. 11, 2017.
15. UNESCO, “UNESCO list”, URL: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/232, (2017a), accessed on July. 12, 2017.
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accessed on July. 11, 2017.
17. UNESCO, “What is Intangible Cultural Heritage?”, URL: https://ich.unesco.org/en/what-is-intangible-
heritage-00003, (2017c), accessed on July. 13, 2017.
18. UNESCO, “INDIA”, URL: http://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/in, (2017d), accessed on July. 10, 2017.
19. UNESCO, “Humayun's Tomb, Delhi”, URL: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/232, (2017e), accessed on July.
10, 2017.
20. AKDN, “EGYPT”, URL: http://www.akdn.org/where-we-work/middle-east/egypt/cultural-development,
(2017a), accessed on July. 21, 2017
21. AKDN, “INDIA” , URL: http://www.akdn.org/where-we-work/south-asia/india/cultural-
development/urban-renewal-delhi-heritage-conservation, (2017b), accessed on July. 21, 2017.
22. Ismailimail, “AKTC’s conservation of Humayun’s Tomb”, URL: https://ismailimail.wordpress.com/about/,
(2017), accessed on July. 15, 2017
23. Srinivas, H., "Heritage and Conservation Strategies: Understanding the Justifications and Implications".
GDRC Research Output E-100. Kobe, Japan: Global Development Research Center. Retrieved from
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