Islamic monuments are widespread in Egypt, especially in Old Cairo and the Khalifa region, which is full of domes and shrines for the family of the Prophet Muhammad.
Because many of these monuments have no owner, garbage accumulates around and they suffer neglect, despite their religious and spiritual significance.
The AtharLina (Our Monuments) initiative is working on the conservation of the Shajar Al-Durr Dome, constructed in 1250 CE, as well as the Mashhad of El-Sayeda Roqia, and the shrines of Ateqa and Jaafri.
The restoration works will be completed at the end of 2015, according to AtharLina Initiative Coordinator May Al-Ibrashy.
Al-Ibrashy said that AtharLina aims to spread community awareness on the importance of preserving monuments through promotional trips to activate domestic tourism.
Furthermore,AtharLina initiative promotes tourism trips to the Khalifa region and street, as tourists generally visit the monuments at the street’s entrance and the end of the street, without seeing the other monuments that line the street.
Al-Ibrashy added that tourists only visit Ibn-Tulun mosque at the entrance of the street and Al-Sayeda Nafisa mosque at the end of the street.
Therefore, the initiative aims to raise awareness among tourists of the presence and importance of other monuments in the streets through maps that are placed at the entrance and the end of the street and highlighting the most important touristic areas, according to Al-Ibrashy.
“AtharLina is a three-year initiative in partnership with the Ministry of Antiquities to transform monuments to community resources that citizens keep,” added Al-Ibrashy. “The initiative chose the Khalifa area because of its Islamic importance and because it is neglected, so the initiative cooperates with the government and civil society in the development of solutions and recommendations for developing and restoring the Khalifa region.”
Al-Ibrashy noted that the initiative seeks to find funding for the “Spend your Day in Khalifa 3” initiative, which is the third in a series of annual tourist promotion and fundraising events that AtharLina organises to bring local tourism to Khalifa Street in Old Cairo. In addition, it raises awareness on its importance, garners financial support and recruits partners for the development of activities there.
The first phase of the project from June to November 2012; funded by the Danish Egyptian Dialogue Institute in partnership with Ministry of Antiquities included a series of participatory workshops, seminars, and exhibitions targeting representative stakeholders.
AtharLina’s community outreach component, Khalifa Inside Out, aims to promote tourism and raise awareness of the street’s history through guided tours in the street, an exhibition and a performance by Shirine El-Ansary telling the stories of the street. This phase was funded by the British Council in November 2013.
This is in addition to the opening of the Khalifa Community Centre as a collaborative effort between AtharLina, BEC-Megawra and a committee of Khalifa residents.
Funding has been obtained from the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) for AtharLina, to conserve the three remaining 12th century domes of Shajar Al-Durr zone.
The initiative seeks fundraising for the new phase of its project through online donations. The initiative coordinates with Zoomal website through using crowd-sourcing campaigns for the event.
This means that for every dollar donated, Zoomal donates another dollar to reach the targeted $6,000 to hold the third phase of the “Spend your Day in Khalifa” events.
AtharLina is a participatory conservation initiative that aims to establish modalities of citizen participation in heritage conservation based on an understanding of the monument as a resource not a burden.