Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Coastal management sourcebooks 2


Alexandria – city of 2,000 years, city of Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, the Ptolomies, Romans, Copts, Arabs, as well as the disembarkment of Napoleon, defeat of the British, departure of King Farouk, nationalization of the Suez Canal, residence of cosmopolitans and the inspiration of artists and writers such as Durell, Kharat, Mostaki, Wanli ... Alexandria – city of the Seventh Wonder of the World, the Lighthouse, city of the Biblioteca Alexandrina, Pompey’s Pillar, Roman Theater, Qait Bey Fortress ...

Founded by Alexander the Great in 330 BC, Alexandria extended to six kilometres along the seashore at the time of the Ptolomies and had shrunk to only three kilometres by the time Napoleon arrived in 1798.

In the nineteenth century the small city regained its role and became, under Mohamed Ali, the commercial harbour of Egypt. Mohamed Ali constructed the Mahmoudia Canal that supplied Alexandria with fresh water from the Nile. Abbas Pasha added the railway line between Cairo and Alexandria. Over the last two centuries, Alexandria’s limits have expanded to enclose twenty-five kilometres of coastline. The demographic development of Alexandria along the last two centuries is a phenomenon in itself. Upon the arrival of Napoleon in 1798, Alexandria had only 8,000 inhabitants. Since the time of Mohamed Ali, the city’s population has increased by leaps and bounds – reaching 60,000 in 1840; 140,000 in 1848; 270,000 in 1874; 300,000 at the end of the nineteenth century; and today 4.5 million inhabitants crowd the city’s streets.

In the last decade, Alexandria has witnessed three major archaeological events:

With these three important events, it has become obvious that Alexandria is in urgent need of master planning in order to guarantee the preservation of its cultural heritage and to assure, at the same time, its social and economic development.

In order to put Alexandria back on Egypt’s cultural and tourist map, efforts are currently being applied towards the preservation of the newly discovered sites, be they underwater or above ground; however, the future trend should be towards achieving a master plan for the city with the twin objectives of preservation and development. This will mean that efforts henceforth can not be narrowly specialized or restricted to one discipline, but must be multi-sectoral. Viable solutions to the problems will require the collaboration of archaeologists, environmentalists, sociologists as well as specialists from a series of other fields of culture, education and the natural and social sciences.

Former Ambassador Extra Plenipotentiary
Permanent Delegate of Egypt to UNESCO

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