TTT NEWS NETWORK
KOLKATA, 31 DECEMBER 2023:
Recent investment in services for archaeological and heritage areas in Egypt will improve the tourist experience and generate more revenue.
2024 will witness more investment in these ancient areas in compliance with conditions set by the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and the Antiquities Protection Law, taking into account specifications for restaurants, bazaars, hotels and boutiques.
The SCA is responsible for managing and restoring the antiquities sites, while other companies specialise in services for visitors at the sites.
SCA Secretary General Mostafa Waziry said this partnership in return will provide a unique experience for tourists.
Partnership with the private sector in services at archaeological sites began in 2018 at the Giza Plateau, the SCA chief said. These services include cafeterias, restaurants and staging events.
In 2020, the first tourist light structure restaurant in the Giza Plateau was opened.
Gradually, other services such as environment-friendly buses, WiFi, restrooms, first aid centres, bazaars, and shops will be open to the site in addition to an international restaurant complex.
Waziry said the opening of these services will coincide with that of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), the world’s biggest museum of Egyptology, in 2024.
This example, he said, motivated them to work on presenting services like restaurants that will be open in 2024 to other archaeological sites such as the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir, Saqqara, Prince Mohamed Ali Palace in Manial, and Rokn Farouk in Helwan.
“The SCA rehabilitates the infrastructure of the archaeological place then presents it to the investor department at the Tourism and Antiquities Ministry which presents this place for investors. Then comes the role of the negotiating committee to decide the best company financially and technically,” Waziry told The Egyptian Gazette.
The ministry has successful examples of partnerships with countries and international development partners in restoring and maintaining antiquities under the SCA supervision.
These examples include the restoration projects of the Sultan Baybars Mosque, to which the State of Kazakhstan contributed, and the Al-Tanbugha Al-Mardani Mosque in Al-Darb Al-Ahmar, with funding from the European Union and implementation of the Aga Khan Foundation in Egypt.
Waziry said that investments in archaeological sites will not only benefit tourists but also the local community.
Events and workshops are held for denizens of the area and visitors in general. This helps increase revenues and make the site accessible for longer hours, as well as preserving it from being closed or receiving few visitors.”
He pointed out that the SCA has specific requirements for investing in archaeological areas.
“Importantly, the place must be preserved, and its management must fall under the SCA. The investor is responsible for presenting the services under the supervision of the SCA. If the investor wants to establish a restaurant inside the archaeological site, it must be of a light structure like that at the Pyramids, and that is approved by UNESCO.”
The SCA currently permits holding katb ketab (a ceremony usually held before the wedding) inside the recently reopened Süleyman Pasha Mosque at the Saladin Citadel in southern Cairo, after restoration funded by the SCA. It is the first Ottoman-style mosque in Egypt that was built in 1528.
Waziry said that this is another way of investing in the place and increasing revenues, especially in antique mosques.
“People are optimistic about holding the katb ketab in historic, antique mosques such as the 19th-century Mohamed Ali Mosque at the Citadel. When we reopened the Süleyman Pasha Mosque, many people requested to hold their katb ketab inside it.
The same thing applied in Prince Mohamed Ali Mosque in Manial,” he said.
Waziry has recently inspected the restoration work at two towers inside the Citadel named Al-Ramla and Al-Haddad. The Citadel’s panorama area is also undergoing restoration.
“We are working to use the panorama area with a wooden umbrella that would be suitable for hosting events, workshops and a restaurant as well,” he said.
He pointed out that opening new archaeological sites to visitors after restoring them as well as making discoveries from time to time make them eager to come.
Waziry mentioned that the rehabilitation of archaeological sites is not limited to Cairo only.
He added that Abu Simbel in Aswan has souvenir shops affiliated with Konouz, in addition to a cafeteria. Konouz is the first company in Egypt and the Middle East that specialises in producing and replicating ancient Egyptian antiquities in collaboration with the Ministry.
There are also cafeterias and restrooms available at Edfu, Kom Ombo, Karnak, Deir el Bahari, and Valley of the Kings.
According to Waziry, some places are difficult for water or sanitation systems to reach, so they provide self-cleaning caravans.
Cairo recently hosted a forum on “Investing in Services in Archaeological and Heritage Areas.” The forum was attended by investors and partners interested in investing in services at archaeological sites, along with development partners and donors interested in contributing to the restoration and preservation of heritage.
It was announced that 21 archaeological sites in seven Egyptian governorates: Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Assuit, Aswan, Gharbia, and the Red Sea are currently available for investment opportunities.
“These investments in archaeological sites represent a significant step forward for Egypt in terms of bolstering its tourism industry, preserving its cultural heritage, and promoting economic growth,” Waziry said.