As the world awaits the completion of the Grand Egyptian Museum this year, spanning an area of 117 feddans near the pyramids and hosting artifacts belonging to the vast Egyptian civilizations (some have never been revealed to the world before), Egypt is determined to boost tourism and upgrade its services, renovating many of Cairo’s historical sights. Invest-Gate is pleased to take you on a tour across the capital to explore its best and most unique historical monuments.
National Museum of Egyptian Civilization
Invest-Gate starts its tour with the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC), covering an area of 33 feddans,. Strategically located in Cairo’s Fustat, the magnificently-built museum features the transformation of Egyptian civilization throughout the centuries. Touring the museum, one could not help but notice how its architectural design depicts Egypt across its many civilizations, from the glass pyramid on top of the main entrance till the Egyptian-Roman amphitheater.
“Ghazali Kessiba designed the project to fit the theme of Egyptian civilizations, portraying the Giza Pyramids in glass as one of the prominent cultural aspects,” Mahrous Saeed, the general manager of NMEC, clarifies.
The project is being developed over three phases with a total investment value of EGP 800 mn; and is expected to be fully operational by 2019. At a total cost of EGP 376 mn, real estate developer, Misr Sons for Development, completed the first phase, featuring buildings, facilities, rural sanitation, and electricity.
“The second phase of the project is worth EGP 400 mn and will include an administrative building, comprising renovation labs, scientific research facilities, and antiquities storage. The third phase will include the completion of the exhibition halls and galleries,” Saeed tells Invest-Gate.
As visitors tour NMEC, they will come across a welcoming reception area, museum stores, educational services, cafeterias, coffee shops, a 3D educational cinema, a theater, along with more than 40 retail shops that will be offered for rent to carry out activities aligned with the museum’s vision. With various activities available onsite, the museum features an edutainment platform for adults and children, offering a pleasant experience of antiquities’ for amateurs, tourists, and locals.
With a multi-cultural platform, visitors can rediscover Egyptian history through nine exhibition halls, rich in historical facts and displays. The exhibition halls will be constructed in the museum apart from the current temporary open exhibition hall. The galleries/ exhibitions will feature the Medieval, the Archaic, the Ancient Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Coptic, Islamic, and Muhammed Ali dynasties, ending with our contemporary period as well.
“The reason behind opening a temporary hall was to encourage investments to the project. The government responded by allocating EGP 800 mn to the project, and the Armed Forces Engineering Authority will commence the remaining construction of the project based on presidential orders,” adds Saeed.
Saeed notes that the museum could encourage high touristic turnout and tackle challenges of the tourism sector with its rich cultural platform that targets antiquities’ lovers worldwide. “The second phase of the project is worth EGP 400 mn and will include an administrative building, comprising renovation labs, scientific research facilities, and antiquities storage.
The idea of the project began as a collaborative effort with UNESCO, back in 1978. In 1984, an architectural design competition was offered and renowned architect Ghazali Kessiba won the designs for the museum. Implementation of the project only began in 2004, following the completion of tender documents.
National Egyptian Museum
The famous National Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, downtown Cairo, is also among the museums being renovated to revive its original outlook dating back to 1903. “The first renovation phase includes developing the inner walls, ground floors, and window glasses,” Moamen Osman, general manager of the Renovation Sector in the National Egyptian Museum, tells Invest-Gate.
The glass has been replaced with an advanced type of glass that prevents ultraviolet radiation and is heat insulated. Osman also adds that the display rooms and galleries within the museum will also be renovated in the near future along with the museum’s entire lighting system. “We started off with Tutankhamun Hall in the upper floor,” adds Osman. “The next renovation phase will be enhancing the wellbeing and organization of exhibition halls based on their historical references, as they are currently overcrowded.”
Among the other touristic sites that are being developed is Khedive Cairo, in downtown Cairo, linking Islamic Cairo with the Modern Cairo of Khedive Ismail in the 19th Century.
The development plans, which will be completed next month, include enhancing Falaki Square and its historic properties, overlooking El-Bustan Street and Tahrir Street, green spaces, and improving the lighting system, according to Cairo governorate’s released statement.
Great Pyramids of Giza
Another strategic touristic point that is being developed is the Giza Pyramids Area at a cost of EGP 349 mn. The Ministry of Tourism allocated EGP 51 mn to build an administrative building, secured gates, public services, and a civil protection building. The country plans to develop the Pyramids Area to be labeled as the top touristic destination in the country along with the National Egyptian Museum, according to a report released by the General Organization for Physical Planning (GOPP).
The plan includes turning the area into an open museum and connecting it to Mansouriya water course that branches from the River Nile. The project will also include a hotel complex managed by GEM hotels. GEM Plaza will feature the museum’s gardens, Khufu Plaza, a boulevard, and Esplanade, a touristic walkway, a public services area near the Sphinx, new roads, along with an on-site electric eco-bus.
Construction of the archeological site within the project began in 2009 to also include an administrative building for the Antiquities Ministry that will be opened within the coming weeks, while the entire project is expected to be finalized this year, according to state-owned EgyNews.
In efforts to cater to the demands of the newly-anticipated project, the governorate of Giza is cooperating with the Egyptian Tourist Association (ETA) and the Hospitality Faculty in Helwan University to launch a two-week traineeship to train 1,400 workers in the antiquities field within the Pyramids Area, according to a statement released by Giza Governor Kamal El-Daly. The training program, entitled Tourism is our Future, will provide workers and vendors in the area with enough touristic awareness that will soon demolish negative impacts that affect touristic turnout today.
Furthermore, the Egyptian government will be allocating EGP 1.72 bn to fund projects carried out by the Ministry of Antiquities, including Baron Palace, Al-Kassan Palace, Mohamed Ali Palace, the Jewish Temple, and the Romanian-Greek Museum.
According to state-owned Al Ahram Egypt is expecting a high touristic turnout this summer with the Egyptian Tourist Association (ETA) launching a new promotional campaign to attract a larger number of tourists. The country has accommodated approximately two mn Arab tourists last year, amounting to more than 65% of the total number of tourists visiting Egypt, and increasing the touristic turnout rate to 13% in 2015. The country is expecting 9 mn tourists to visit Egypt this year as the Egyptian government continues to promote Cairo to be among the top touristic destinations worldwide in efforts to boost its tourism.