Abbaseyya Psychiatric Hospital to be made into an Islamic heritage site, says SCA

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By Sarah Carr

CAIRO: The building that houses the Abbaseyya Psychiatric Hospital will be made into an Islamic heritage site, the Supreme Council for Antiquities (SCA) announced in a press statement on Wednesday.

Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni announced that a scientific committee formed by SCA Secretary General Zahi Hawass decided on Tuesday to initiate the process by which the building will be added to the list of Egypt’s Islamic antiquities.

A full report will be submitted to the Permanent Committee of Islamic and Coptic Monuments during its next meeting so that the building can be added to Egypt’s Islamic heritage list, the statement reads.

Several royal palaces built by Khedive Ismail used to stand on the site currently occupied by the Abbaseyya Psychiatric Hospital, but most were destroyed by fire.

The Saraya Al Malek Palace, for example, was replaced with a building that preserved some of its historic features.

The Abbaseyya Psychiatric Hospital, founded in 1883, is currently at the center of rumors that the land on which it stands will be used to expand the neighboring conference center as part of the Cairo Expo City development project.

Mostafa Hussein, a psychiatrist and blogger, wrote on about the Cairo Expo City project’s plans.

Hussein stated that the demonstration of the Cairo Expo City project by Zaha Hadid Architects — the project’s head developer and designer — “starts with a misleading satellite picture outlining the project that clearly doesn’t include the hospital.”

Hussein also stated that in other project slide shows, the hospital “is included in [Hadid’s] project as part of a green area with an artificial lake.”

Abbaseyya Psychiatric Hospital staff members protested on Sunday over rumors that the hospital will be relocated to Badr City — located approximately 60 km outside of Cairo — in order to accommodate the Cairo Expo City project’s plans.

Daily News Egypt contacted Zaha Hadid Architects for comment, but was informed that its press office will not be available until Jan. 4, 2011.

Hawass is quoted as saying in a SCA statement that the decision to list the Abbaseyya Psychiatric Hospital as a heritage site “falls within the framework of protecting sites of an antiquarian and historical character, [the buildings of which] are unique. These buildings are one of Cairo’s landmarks and must be protected.”

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