Monthly Archives: April 2011

National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation to open in 2012

Overlooking the Ain El-Sira Lake in Al-Fustat area in Old Cairo, the plot devoted to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC) is a hive of activity. Workers are in full swing to complete the constructional phase of the NMEC.

The NMEC is Egypt’s first and only museum to be devoted to its diverse civilisation in its entirety. It will present the full range of the richness of Egypt’s history, from the prehistoric era through to modern times. Moreover, it will be the first such collection, in its focus, in the Arab world. Its exceptional resources are drawn from numerous archaeological sites, museum exhibitions and storehouses.

Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs Zahi Hawass on Saturday embarked on an inspection tour to check the recent construction work. It this was the first inspection by Hawass following his appointment as minister. Earlier, the NMEC was under the authority of the Ministry of Culture before the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) became the Ministry of State for Antiquities Affairs (MSAA).

During the tour Hawass called on the engineer in charge of construction to complete work on the theatre located in the museum’s garden, in order that it could be used in cultural events organised by MSAA or other ministries, as well as other cultural and scientific organisations. He also charged the NMEC archaeological team with establishing a papyri centre inside the museum, which will be in charge of studying, documenting, publishing, restoring and displaying the archaeological papyri in all Egypt’s museums.

Hawass also met with NMEC employees and promised to provide several training programmes for them, whether in Egypt or abroad.

Hussein Abdel Bassir, director of the NMEC, said that the museum will exhibit 150,000 artefacts selected from museums around Egypt, including Cairo’s Egyptian, Islamic and Coptic museums, the Greco-Roman and Alexandria national museums in Alexandria, and the Luxor Museum. Archaeological artifacts kept in storage in at the Giza Plateau and Saqqara will also be put on display.

The museum will showcase the feats and achievements of Egypt’s history. In addition to the chosen collection, the NMEC will house a set of monuments, among them the Seboua Temple of Ramses II, now on Lake Nasser, a complete façade of a Fatimid sabil, two columns from King Djoser’s Temple at Saqqara, the collection of royal mummies, and the mummy of the ancient Egyptian artist Sanejem, which is now on display at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square.

On display will also be the recent exhibition organised on Egypt’s January 25 Revolution, which will tour 14 European countries and find a permanent home at the NMEC.

Ramadan Badri Hussein, supervisor of archaeological affairs in the MSAA, told Ahram Online that Hawass also visited the club of MSAA employees located next to the NMEC, to check upon its final stages of construction. Within few months, said Hussein, the club will host MSAA members.



Today … “Egypt We Are Group” begins their world tour to revive tourism

Eiffel Tower in France

The members of “Egypt We Are” begin today their world tour to revive the Egyptian tourism in 5 European countries. “France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany”. This tour ends on next May 3, amid great efforts to meet senior officials, politicians and filmmakers in those countries for promoting Egyptian tourism, and show documentary film on the revolution on January 25.


Memphis Tours Egypt since 1955.

Egypt’s Museums: 25 January exhibition at the Pharaonic Village

25 January Egypt Revolution

Despite its being a relatively recent chapter in modern Egyptian history, the 25 January revolution has been given its own exhibition at the Pharaonic Village. A connection can be made; after all, toppled tyrant Mubarak had been frequently referred to as the “last Pharaoh,” even years before his ouster.

With that in mind, this reporter arrived at the Pharaonic Village expecting, possibly, an imposing statue of Mubarak in a nemes, his knee-high wife by his side, or maybe a hieroglyph-assisted account of the Battle of the Camels, carved into a wall and brightly-painted. Unfortunately, these unmet expectations only emphasized how much the 25 January display is, by far, one of the Pharaonic Village’s most underwhelming displays.

Limited to a single cramped warehouse and hidden in the shadow of the much larger Boat Museum, the 25 January Museum is easy to miss. There are no signs or plaques on the outside of the building identifying it as such; the only indication of its purpose being a small, uneven wooden pyramid, its sides covered with images of a small selection of martyrs.

Unfortunately, this pyramid represents the pinnacle of the exhibition’s creativity, and probably took more time to make than it did to set up the rest of the museum. Ninety-six photographs, six framed newspaper front-pages from 12 February–the day after Mubarak stepped down–and a couple of hand-written posters are divided between the exhibition’s two long walls. Palm-sized images of a few martyrs, many repeated, and a few deflated balloons hang from the ceiling. That’s pretty much it.

The far wall is dominated by either a large, eagle-less Egyptian flag, or a Yemeni one. Photographs, shared between the single-room exhibition’s two side walls, are divided into separate categories. There are pictures depicting police brutality, with uniformed and plain-clothed officers enthusiastically beating defiant protesters, as well as incriminating (and in a few cases, impressive) shots of officers firing rounds of live ammunition and teargas canisters. One particularly powerful image shows a line of state security officers hosing down a large group of protesters, kneeling in mid-prayer.

Another group of pictures show the “lighter side of the revolution,” as described by the handwritten title-card hanging above them. These images are mostly limited to pictures of Tahrir Square occupants, holding up signs with amusing slogans. “My wife is pregnant and she doesn’t want the baby to see your face — leave!” reads a sign held by a smiling young man, while another protester’s poster declares, “If I don’t take a shower in my own house tonight, I’ll take one in the presidential palace tomorrow.”

Between the photographs are a series of crudely cut, handwritten posters and banners, similar to those made and carried by Tahrir protesters, but nowhere near as inventive or witty, merely recycling broad statements of dissent, such as “The people want to bring down the regime” and of course, “Leave.” Slightly better-looking printed posters are devoted to international reactions to the revolution, with quotes from world leaders praising the Egyptian people, while another series of posters highlight noteworthy events from the revolution, such as “the Camel incident,” “endless negotiations,” and “the president’s long, boring and condescending speeches.”

In a corner, a single printed sheet lists the reasons behind the revolution–rigged parliamentary elections, nepotism, economic failures, corruption, the Tunisian uprising, excessive brutality carried out by the police and state-security officers, and the murder of Khalid Saeed.

While many of the exhibition’s photographs are impressive, followers of the revolution are likely to find them familiar, due to the fact that the majority of them were taken from various media sources, such as newspapers and–concerning the several screen-captured images — television news broadcasts. The remainder of the photographs come from, as advertised by the watermark in the corner of the frames.

Considering it took little more than an internet connection, an average-quality printer, and the ability to work a search engine, it’s difficult to appreciate, or even respect, the resulting exhibition, regardless of the intention behind it. The exhibition’s supervisor claims that the 25 January Museum was still a work in progress, one that would “evolve” in the coming few months. If that’s the case, those in charge should have waited until they were ready to unveil an exhibit worthy of the revolution, or at least, on the same level as the Pharaonic Village’s other intermittently impressive displays.

While the exhibition’s photographs do trigger some emotion when viewed in such close succession, that probably has more to do with the reality and proximity of the revolution than the actual display. As it is, this 25 January Museum comes across as more of a sloppy but well-meaning amateur project than a commemoration of a truly remarkable event.


Memphis Tours Egypt since 1955.

Categories: 25th january revolution | Leave a comment

Never too new to be history

An exhibition highlighting the principals of Egypt’s 25 January Revolution is to tour European countries, reports Nevine El-Aref

Egypt is going all out to promote tourism and show to the world the meaning and significance of Egypt’s January Revolution. It is launching a touring art exhibition organised by the Ministry of State for Antiquities Affairs (MSAA).

“This will be a very important exhibition,” says Zahi Hawass, minister of state for antiquities affairs. He says the exhibition will tell the true story of the struggle by the protesters to accomplish the revolution that began on 25 January. It will do so through displaying sculptures and drawings created by Egyptian artists as well as the logos and slogans used by the protesters in Tahrir Square. A photographic exhibition featuring scenes of what was taking place in the square over the weeks of the uprising and pictures of the demonstrators would also be part of the display, as well as photographs of those who died and have been hailed as martyrs of the cause of democracy.

The idea of a touring exhibition emerged during a brief meeting between Hawass and young leaders of the 25 January Revolution at the MSAA premises in Zamalek.

Mohamed Abdel-Fatah, director of the museums sector at the MSAA, told Al-Ahram Weekly that among the exhibition’s themes would be a number of replica statues featuring ancient Egyptian deities. This, he said, would help reflect some of the themes of the revolution. He mentioned especially a replica of a statue of the ancient Egyptian goddess of truth and justice; Maat, and added that peace and prosperity would be symbolised by Osiris, god of the afterlife.

Ahmed Kamel, director of the technical office of the museums sector and the organiser responsible for the exhibition, said that the exhibition would consist of three main sections. The first would display brochures and newsletters of Egyptian archaeological sites and tourist attractions in an attempt to promote tourism to Egypt. The second section would include art works carved and drawn by Egyptian artists and a photographic gallery of the 18-day revolution in Tahrir Square. The photographs, Kamel said, would also display the portraits of some of those who died in the revolution, as well as some of their personal belongings such as the banners and flags they were holding when they were killed.

The third section would contain the replica statues and a number of antiquities, as well as archaeology and history books including some published by the MSAA, a selection by prominent archaeologists and those of Hawass, who has offered his books free of charge for the exhibition.

Kamel said the exhibition would be financed in collaboration with the Red Sea governorate and four travel agencies.

The exhibition’s first venue will be the garden of the Manial Palace in Cairo, after which it will go on tour in Europe. Its final and permanent stop, Hawass said, would be the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC) which is now under construction in the area of Fustat, adjacent to Old Cairo.

The NMEC’s plan for the new museum is to display the entire history of Egyptian civilisation from prehistoric to modern times. Hawass said that this exhibition relating the latest episode in the nation’s history would make it complete.


Memphis Tours Egypt since 1955.

Categories: 25th january revolution | Leave a comment

Tourists return to Sharm El-Sheikh amid heightened security presence

CAIRO: Sharm El-Sheikh is starting to see a return of tourists amid an increased security presence in the Red Sea resort where ousted president Hosni Mubarak is under house arrest.

Measures have been taken to increase security in and around Sharm El-Sheikh. Security forces in the South Sinai city recently increased in order to “boost and protect tourism,” Egyptian-state owned satellite channel Nile News reported on Monday.

“During the revolution and up until recently, the number of visitors we saw was very low,” said Nathalie Renaud, assistant manager of the Four Seasons Resort in Sharm El-Sheikh. “Little by little when the media started reporting on the situation here, movement picked up and now we’re actually quite busy.”

Tourism, one of the top three revenue earners for the country’s economy, was cut by more than half after unrest that followed the 18-day popular revolt that pushed Mubarak out of power after three decades.

Ahmed Al-Nahas, chairman of the Egyptian Tourism Federation also confirmed that tourism in Sharm El-Sheikh is “coming back” with the reappearance of police and security in the streets.

Al-Nahas emphasized that while some people will feel more comfortable with a heavier security presence, others will think it’s a “bit too much.”
“You can’t please everybody, but in my opinion security is important,” he added.

Some Sharm El-Sheikh residents on the other hand feel that the increased army presence is not necessarily all over the city but rather in certain areas.

“The only new thing is the army’s presence in Sharm, it of course wasn’t allowed before and their presence is not like Cairo where you see tanks,” said Rania Barakat, editor in chief of Sinai Weekly and long-term resident of Sharm El-Sheikh. “Here it’s just a lot of army officers guarding certain areas around the city, such as where the former president is under house arrest for example.”

Barakat sees that increased army presence in Sinai, where the Egyptian military presence violates the Camp David treaty, could have various meanings.

“It could be because Egypt’s general prosecutor recently asked the army to bring in Mubarak for questioning, or it could be General Tantawy protecting his friend,” she added. “Either way, it’s not right for Mubarak to be here.”

Renaud, on the other hand, who has been living and working in Sharm El-Sheikh for over a year, says the city started to see more security presence by the army just shortly before Mubarak gave his first voice-recorded speech since his overthrow, which was exclusively aired on Al Arabiya news channel.

“About two days before Mubarak’s speech, military personnel was increasing,” she said. “Right now they are still very present, I believe that they would do anything to make sure the situation is secure,” she said.

A high–ranking official from the Ministry of Interior who asked to remain anonymous told Daily News Egypt that police forces have returned back to work in Sharm El-Sheikh just like any other city in Egypt.

“We are distributing police officials just like they were before in order to protect the people, so let’s say if Cairo has 10 officers, for example, Sharm El-Sheikh will have five since it’s a smaller city,” he said.

He also emphasized “certain areas in Sharm El-Sheikh, like where the former president is staying or the presidential palace are the responsibility of the army to secure, not police forces.”

Sharm El-Sheikh is the largest and most important city in the Sinai Peninsula on the coast of the Red Sea. The former Egyptian president often received guests and held conferences and summits in the resort city, where he also owns a villa.


Memphis Tours Egypt since 1955.

Categories: current events in egypt, Egypt after the revolution, Egypt News | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Tourism minister: Developers must be serious or lose their land

Minister of Tourism Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour has warned investors in land intended for tourism-related purposes that their land will be confiscated if they do not appear to be taking their responsibilities seriously.

“Land will be withdrawn from investors who are not serious,” said Abdel Nour, referring to state-owned land sold for investors to build projects serving tourism.

Speaking to the Arab Tourism Forum on Thursday, Abdel Nour said investors must abide by the conditions and timetables stipulated by the ministry for their projects.

Declining to disclose the names of investors from whom land had already been withdrawn, Abdel Nour said he deliberately did not look at the names because he knows most of them personally.

Nour called on all Arab countries to simplify procedures for granting visas to Arab nationals so as to encourage inter-Arab tourism. “Egypt will be the first country to do so,” he said.

“The security situation at major Egyptian tourism destinations is excellent,” he said. “But tourists consider the security of the whole country and not certain parts of it.”


Memphis Tours Egypt since 1955.

Categories: current events in egypt | Tags: | Leave a comment

New Site Openings

Recently I met with the Prime Minister of Egypt, Dr. Essam Sharaf, and I informed him that we have several sites that can now be opened to the public. I hope that the opening of these sites will be a message to the public that Egypt is safe.

For example, we will open the Hanging Church in Coptic Cairo, which we recently restored. Now it is ready to be opened, so Dr. Sharaf can contact Pope Shenouda III for the opening ceremony and promote good relations between Muslims and Christians in Egypt.

Restoration work in the Serapeum, showing the metal support in a niche that would have contained the burial of an Apis bull. (Photo: Jennifer Willoughby)

We are also ready to open new museums, including the Suez Museum; I really feel it is an excellent museum. The tourists will be able to travel by boat to visit the museum, which encompasses different aspects of the city, including pilgrimage, trade, the Suez Canal, and history of the Sinai. The Crocodile Museum in Kom Ombo will also be opened soon, as well as the visitor center in Amarna.

Other sites to be opened soon include the Zaghloul mosque and six Islamic-era houses in Rashid, the Salaheddin Citadel in Taba, the mosque of Sidi Galal in Minya, and the Al-Mansour and Qalawoun complexes in Al-Muizz Street, as well as the mosque of Prince Soliman, which is known as the Hanging Mosque.

I am also glad to announce that the Serapeum in Saqqara will open soon. We have finished the restoration of the south side, which was in very poor condition. We installed metal throughout the interior to support the walls and ceiling, so now the south section can be visited. We will open it to the public and begin conservation work on the north side. Also at Saqqara we are ready to open the New Kingdom cemetery that contains many famous tombs, such as those of Maya and Horemheb, as well as others discovered by Alain Zivie.

The Ministry is also preparing to open other sites in Cairo, Luxor, Aswan and Taba, as well as the temple of Hibis in Kharga Oasis. Over the next few months, we are going to announce many more exciting things, including new discoveries that we did not announce because the Revolution occurred, and we all focused on that.

I hope that over the next few months, we can promote tourism to these new sites and continue to support Egypt, as well as share our exciting new discoveries.


Memphis Tours Egypt since 19550

Categories: Cairo Info, current events in egypt, Discoveries in Egypt | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Activists decry Zahi Hawass’ use of artifacts to promote menswear line

Egyptian activists and media professionals launched a signature-gathering campaign to sue former Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass for “endangering Egyptian artifacts.”

Haitham Yahia, an activist and blogger, posted a form on his Facebook and Twitter accounts for people wishing to join the campaign to sign. Yahia then plans to file a report with the attorney general against Hawass, who is currently jailed for an unrelated crime.

Yahia said Hawass allowed the illegal use of Egyptian artifacts for the promotion of a menswear fashion line that carries his name and is produced by a company named Art Zulu.

Photographer James Weber, who carried out the photoshoot, posted the pictures and an interview about them on his blog on 23 November last year. He said the crew was allowed into the King Tut exhibit in New York City on 7 October.

In an interview posted on his blog, Weber says that Hawass did not attend the photoshoot and that security from the museum was present to protect the artifacts. He said most items in the pictures were replicas, and original artifacts were used as backdrops and never touched.

The photographer also said that he understands why people would question the use of antiquities for Hawass’ personal gain, and felt glad that people can now discuss such issues openly.

“The artifacts were never in any danger of damage from heat or being touched,” Weber said, pointing out that the exhibition was temperature controlled.

Dozens of people signed Yahia’s petition in the first few hours of its posting on the internet.

The official website for Art Zulu published photos for the new line. They show a model posing with pharaonic relics in the background, which is a violation of Egyptian law. The photos show, among other things, pharaonic murals and a model seated on King Tutankhamun’s chair.

Egyptian law bans touching relics, taking photos of them or using them for commercial promotions.

Hawass was this week sentenced to one year’s hard labor and a LE1000 fine for failing to fulfill a court ruling over a land dispute.


Memphis Tours Egypt since 1955

Categories: Cairo Info, current events in egypt | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A gem in the landscape

A gem in the landscape

Work will soon begin on the final phase of the planned Grand Egyptian Museum overlooking the Giza Plateau, Nevine El-Aref reports

The Ministry of Culture opened a bid early this week for the four specialised companies that won an international competition to carry out the third and final phase of the construction of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM). This phase includes the construction of the museum’s main building and its inner galleries.

Culture Minister Farouk Hosni expects that the construction work, which will begin in February following approval by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), sponsor of the GEM, will last for 26 months. He says that in order to choose the best and most qualified company for the GEM’s construction, bid files will be distributed among the four chosen companies to be studied and to help them in proposing their offers.

In June this year, in partnership with JICA, the first two phases of the project — including a power plant, fire station and fully-equipped conservation centre with 12 laboratories and four storage galleries — were launched by Mrs Suzanne Mubarak.

Hosni described the museum as a mega project for Egypt, one of the “world’s most ambitious projects” and “the museum of the century”.

Building a state-of-the-art museum near the Pyramids of Giza, Hosni adds, will create the best environment for the display of the priceless treasures of ancient Egypt. There will be more space, better lighting and more information available “to do justice to our heritage”.

Farouk Abdel-Salam, supervisor of the culture minister’s office, pointed out that the $600- million GEM project would also encompass a conference centre with an auditorium for 1,000, catering to theatrical performances, concerts, conferences and business meetings. The main auditorium will be supplemented by seminar rooms, meeting halls, a multi-purpose hall suitable for a variety of events, along with an open plan gallery for accompanying exhibitions. A special section for children will be created in order to encourage young people to learn about their heritage.

The galleries will display objects drawn from the prehistoric up to the early Roman periods. The unique funerary objects of Tutankhamun; Hetepheres, mother of King Khufu; Yuya and Thuya, the grandfathers of Pharaoh Akhenaten; Senedjem, the principal artist of Pharaoh Ramses II; the royal mummies and the treasures of Tanis will all be on permanent display.

A 7,000-square-metre commercial area with retail shops, cafeterias, restaurants, and leisure and recreational activities is planned for the ground floor level. There will also be a 250-seat cinema.

Development of the 117-feddan GEM site overlooking the Giza Plateau is designed to make more than a nodding pass to the surrounding desert landscape. The museum complex will centre on the Dunal Eye, an area containing the main exhibition spaces. From this central hub a network of streets, piazzas and bridges will link the museum’s many sections. The design is by Shih-Fu Peng of the Dublin firm Heneghan, winners of the international architectural competition held in 2003.

According to Peng, the museum, which will be partly ringed by a desert wall containing half a million semi-precious stones, will act as a link between modern Cairo and the ancient Pyramids.


Categories: Cairo Info, Cultural Tourism, current events in egypt | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Objects Returned to the Museum

It seems that every week we have some good news here. I was very happy earlier this week when four objects were returned to the Egyptian Museum.

Dr. Tarek El Awady, the Director of the Egyptian Museum, examines the artifacts that were returned. (Photo: Rania Galal)

The people who were caught with antiquities from the Egyptian Museum were sentenced to 15 years in jail and fined heavily. I hope through these strict punishments we will deter people from dealing in antiquities here. It seems that the people who entered the Museum on the night of January 28thknew they could not do anything with these objects. They cannot sell them because no one will buy them, they have been publicized. They also cannot keep them because of the penalties. However, one of them had a conscience, because he took a bag and put it in a metro station, and by accident a person opened the bag and saw artifacts inside. At 9 am I found this person on the steps of my office with the bag. I opened it and was amazed to see these missing objects!

The objects were: a gilded statue of King Tut, the lower part is in the Museum and it will be restored. Also a wooden shabti of Yuya and Tjuya that came back in excellent condition, so we will put it back on display right away.  Another object was a fan that had been damaged, which we will also restore and return to display. The last object is the two pieces of the trumpet, which is also still in good condition.

We are still missing 37 objects from the Egyptian Museum, but I hope that soon we will be able to find them all and return them to the Museum.


Categories: Archaeology, Cairo Info, Egypt after the revolution, Egypt News, Internternational Museums, Museums, The Egyptian Museum | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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