Egypt: The Dahshur World Heritage Site Mobilization for Cultural Heritage for Community Development


Though Dahshur, home to two of Egypt's oldest and best-preserved pyramids, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and an important destination for visitors, the surrounding communities are economically depressed. Climate change has badly affected the quality of agricultural land, a burst in population has brought an increase in poverty and unemployment, and the recent political turmoil in Egypt has diminished tourism, a big source of revenue. 

The aim of the Joint Programme was to protect the area of the Dahshur pyramids and its ecosystem while fostering sustainable development, cultural and ecological management and revenue generation. The project was a pilot based on the Supreme Council of Antiquities' master plan to conserve and preserve cultural heritage in Egypt and therefore has the potential to be replicated in other regions of the country.

The programme's goals were to:
  1. Expand employment opportunities in UNESCO world heritage sites by supporting local production of arts and promoting the development of creative industries and small tourism businesses, with a particular focus on women and youth;
  2. Build capacity for cultural management and protection of world heritage cultural assets;
  3. Promote public awareness of the social value of world heritage sites and the importance of natural resources, and
  4. Provide forums for cross-cultural exchanges.

Main achievements included:

  • An integral tourist plan for Dahshur was developed with the community and the Ministry of Tourism, which allocated 50 mill EGP for basic infrastructure (three roads) and 4.4 million EGP to build a visitors centre. A master plan of the area was also produced which is essential for the protection of the site.
  • The programme produced a quality environmental assessment and a protected area report. Advocacy efforts also contributed to having the area declared as “environmentally managed”, which provides the framework to control hunting activities and protects bio-diversity.
  • More than 3,000 people received training in a variety of potential tourist industries (basic hospitality, horse cart driving, tourist guides, etc), and more than 300 people received specific training on entrepreneurship. A sector of artisans who were trained have produced product prototypes with the potential to be marketed widely.
  • 294 microcredit loans of up to 3,000 EGP were disbursed through an initiative implemented by the BEST foundation, 25 % of them to women.


Click for more detailed results from the Joint Programmes in Egypt.


The Joint Programme in action


Programme Dates 14 Apr 2009 - 14 Apr 2013
Net funded amount $3,095,086
Participating UN agencies ILO, UNDP, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO
National partners Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of International Cooperation; Supreme Council of Antiquities; Ministry of Tourism; Industrial Modernization Centre; Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency; Social Fund for Development
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