Great to potentially see Egypt preparing dossiers for more than one nomination.
The news item raises number of qs
a. Is it really "4 sites"? As far as I can see from the T List it actually refers to 2 nominations -An "Alexandrine" one and a "Sinaian" one
b. The T List entry for Alexandria is currently titled "Alexandria, ancient remains and the new library"
. The inclusion of the "New Library" on the T List always did seem a bit surprising - The "Bibliotheca Alexandrina" was only completed in 2002 and, whilst the building itself has its notable features, it would seem unlikely that it could justify inscription on its architectural merits. Of course it has significant "associative" value - but to inscribe it on the basis of these would seem to be a new step for WHS (The T List entry states "Federico Mayor, the Director General of UNESCO, wrote in 1989 that the objective of the project was not to reconstruct a historical monument lost for ever but rather to "revive, under a modern aspect, a unique world heritage in the cultural history of humankind"
). BUT the article makes absolutely no mention of it and refers only to the "the Old City of Alexandria include Kom Al-Shuafa, Kom Al-Dikka, the Pompey Pillar and the underwater antiquities in both the eastern harbour and Abuqir. A collection of Islamic monuments, among them the cistern of Ibn Al-Nabih and the old Alexandria towers, would also be on the documentation list.
"! It would seem that Egypt has had second thoughts about the new library's inclusion.
c. The Sinai site is registered on the T List as "Two citadels in Sinai from the Saladin period (Al-Gundi and Phataoh's island)"
(sic). There is also another Saladin Fortress on Egypt's T List - The "El-Gendi" Fortress. This is situated on the opposite side of Sinai from Pharoah's Island along the ancient trans-Sinai road from Suez. The T List write up on the "Two Citadels" entry is confusing but it says at one point "The al-Gundi citadel It occupies a strategic position between Suez and Aqaba along a very important route which for centuries had been the land route for trade, pilgrimage and for military purposes
") - so it seems that these 2 T List entries ("Al-Gundi" and "El-Gendi") refer to the same Fortress. We have been to Pharaoh's Island - it is situated close to the Gulf of Aqaba resort of Taba. I note that Lonely Planet says of the Fort "Some of the modern restoration is incongruous (Concrete was not a prime building material in Saladin's time)".
An advantage to Egypt in progressing this site might be to "beef up" its tourism offering in Sinai, and the Fortress is certainly pleasantly situated as a "tourist destination" with a short boat ride and some relatively shallow snorkelling - but does it really have historical OUV?
d. In my view these 2 (??) pending nominations are a little bit disappointing and do nothing to bring forward the many uniquely Egyptian "ancient" Civilisation sites which could be pursued. The real interest in any Alexandria nomination lies in its "Underwater Archaeology" for which it probably does deserve to be a "flag bearer". Do the other Greco-Roman and Byzantine remains, let alone yet more Islamic cisterns (!!), really add much? Yet the underwater aspect is only briefly referred to in the article, which then moves on to its "Collection of Islamic monuments"!!! As for the 2 Saladin Fortresses - the List is packed with fortresses and already has one named after Saladin (in Syria - added to provide an Islamic/Crusader"balance" in the Krak des Chevaliers inscription!).
e. However - I suppose that, given the social, economic and political difficulties facing the Egyptian State at the moment, it is "good news" that anything like this is being acted upon.