Archive – April 2011

What’s happening now in Egypt – Apr 2011 archive

The current ‘What’s Happening Now In Egypt’ page aims to keep you updated on the latest travel information to Egypt; as well as news on the ancient sights, missing artefacts and the continued preservation of our Egyptian heritage, following the peaceful peoples’ of January Revolution. This is our archive from April 2011.

April 2011 – Travel Updates, News on Egyptian Antiquities and Heritage Sights

Ambassador to Egypt Expects Number of Swedish Tours to Rise – 27/04/11
Swedish Ambassador to Egypt Malin Kärre said she expects the number of Swedish tourists visiting Egypt to rise by September, after decreasing in the aftermath of the 25 January revolution. At the opening of Tuesday’s trading session at the Egyptian stock exchange, Kärre said that around 200,000 Swedes visit Egypt annually.

Busiest Tourist Period in Sharm el-Sheikh – 26/04/11
During this recent Easter / Sham el-Nessim holiday weekend [22nd to 25th April 2011] many Red Sea Resorts have reported that they experienced almost 100% occupancy. Pass on the good news message that Egypt tourism is coming back.

Egyptian Stolen Antiquities Incentive – 23/04/11
Dr Zahi Hawass, the State Minister of Antiquities, has announced today [Saturday 23rd April 2011] that the Government  is offering a reward of between LE5,000 and LE50,000 to any citizen responsible for returning stolen antiquities back to the State. [This was reported in The Egyptian Gazette online].

Tourists Return to Sharm el-Sheikh – 21/04/11
Sharm el-Sheikh is now 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. Read the full story in the Memphis Tours blog.

Interesting Article from The Washington Post – “Egypt archaeologist faces criticisms about his job and ties to Mubarak” – 19/04/11
A recent report and interview with Hawass in the US ‘Washington Post’  gives a candid review of his current situation: “His position is far from secure. On Sunday, a criminal court convicted him for ignoring an earlier civil judgment brought against his ministry in a case involving concession contracts at the Egyptian Museum. It is likely only the first step in a protracted legal battle, and the sentence — a year in jail, loss of his post and a fine — hasn’t been enforced. The ugly web of controversy in which he is embroiled, however, goes well beyond this latest contretemps, which Hawass describes as no more than a misunderstanding. The return of a man known for his autocratic style raises questions about the future of government reform in Egypt, and it presents a challenge to Western cultural leaders.” Read the full story in the Washington Post website.

Zahi Hawass Give His Account of the Court Decision Against Him – 19/04/11
In a statement on his website Zahi Hawass provides his account of the recent ‘Bookshop’ court case. He now states that “The National Council of Egypt’s Administrative Court issued a decree today (April 18, 2011) accepting a proposal to stop the recent court ruling against me in my former role as Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, in a case involving the bookstore at the Egyptian Museum. This decree specifies that I will not serve any jail time, and states that I will remain in my position as Minister of State for Antiquities.“. Read the full statement on his website.

Opening Up Further Archaeological Sites in Egypt – 18/04/11
Photograph of the interior of the Hanging Church in Cairo
In an effort to promote tourism in Egypt, several archaeological sites and tourist attractions will be opened soon in Cairo, Luxor, Aswan, Rashid and Taba. Sites that will be reopened, or opened for the first time include: the Hanging Church in Cairo, (which recently underwent restoration), the Serapeum and the New Kingdom cemetery at Saqqara, which contains the tombs of Maya and Horemheb.  Also to be opened for the first time are the new Suez National Museum and the Crocodile Museum in Kom Ombo. The opening of these sites at the current time is a message to the whole world that Egypt is safe and ready to welcome tourists from all over the world. Other new 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. All of this was confirmed at a recent meeting between PM Essam Sharaf and the Antiquities Ministry.

Further News Unfolds About the Zahi Hawass Criminal Court Conviction – 18/04/11
Today, [Minday 18th April 2011]  a criminal court verdict sentenced Zahi Hawass, minister of state for antiquities affairs to one year in jail, fined him LE1000 and released him of his ministerial duties for refusing to implement a verdict issued last year by an administrative court over a dispute between the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and a businessman, Farid Attiya. The ministry of State for Antiquities Affairs (MSAA) will appeal the criminal court verdict. Until the appeals court announces its verdict the decision issued by the criminal court will not be enforced and Hawass will continue as Egypt’s antiquities minister.
Read the latest update on the Ahram Online website.

UK Couple Give an Interview About their Trip to Egypt – 16/04/11

Egypt to Form Special Force to Protect Antiquities – 12/04/11
Photo of the four retrieved objects from the Egyptian Antiquities MuseumZahi Hawass, Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities says a special police force will be set up to protect archaeological sites and museums around the country, following a wave of vandalism and looting.

He also announced the retrieval of four further artefacts from the Tutankhamun collection, out of the 37, originally believed to have been looted from the Egyptian Museum of Ancient Antiquities. The objects returned include the gilded wooden statue of Tutankhamun standing in a boat throwing a harpoon. The statue suffered slight damage; a small part of the crown is missing as well as pieces of the legs. The boat is still in the Museum and the figure of the king will be reunited with it and restored. View more on the other retrieved objects on the Hawass blog website.

Austrialia also Lowers it Alert on Travel Advice to Egypt – 11/04/11
DFAT (The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) has revised its travel advice for certain areas in Egypt. Luxor, Aswan and the Red Sea Resorts have been issued a lower level of alert – down from level four “Reconsider your need to travel” to level three “High degree of caution”. Read the full review on the eTravel Blackboard website.

Good News as US Softens its Advice on Travel to Egypt – 11/04/11
The US State Department has downgraded its Egypt travel warning, which ‘now urges U.S. citizens to consider the risks rather than to avoid all non-essential travel to the North African country’, which the previous warning recommended. The advice is still a warning and it has not been as yet downgraded to an alert. They also report that the security situation in popular tourism destinations such as Luxor, Aswan, and the Red Sea resorts, are calm. Also, all airports are open and operating, but travelers should be in touch with their airlines or tour operators regarding flight schedules. Read the full story on the Budget Travel Magazine website.

An Egypt Trip Through the Eyes of an American Student – 11/04/11
“I found a beautiful, vibrant country, rich with culture and unparalleled kindness despite the upheavals it had recently been through”, quotes a recent US traveler on his brief visit to Cairo and Luxor in March 2011.  Read his full account on the Georgian Times website.

Recent Report Claims that 1,000 Artefacts Have  Been Stolen – 11/04/11
According to a report issued by the AFP on Sunday [10/04/11],  thieves have apparently stolen some 1,000 artefacts from Egypt’s museums and archaeological sites during the unrest since January. Minister for Antiquities Zahi Hawass told Spain’s ‘El Mundo’ that the inventory of all the items that were stolen during the uprising and the weeks of unrest thereafter, will be given to UNESCO, the UN cultural agency. Read a more detailed review on the Arabian Business.com website.

‘The Best Time in History to Pose in Front of The Pyramids’ – 11/04/11
That’s one quote from this Canadian traveler, who has just recently returned from a trip to Egypt in late March. ‘During my recent visit the streets of Cairo felt perfectly safe.’ Read the full article in the ‘Ottawa Citizen‘ online.

Where to Send Your Ministry Complaints – 10/04/11
In an interesting turn of events, a new department has been established at the Ministry of State for Antiquities, which will handle concerns and complaints of theMinistry’s employees.  The new department will be directed by archaeologist Magdi El-Ghandour, the director of the Archaeological Documentation Center. Ironically, Dr. Zahi Hawass, Minister of State for Antiquities, said that the administration will consider all complaints and suggestions to improve the Ministry, and will make every effort to respond to each concern within one week.

Exhibition of the Egyptian Revolution to Tour Europe – 08/04/11
Photograph of Zahi Hawass with reps from Youth MovementIn a suspected attempt to revive his dwindling popularity and align himself with a Revolution he was previously against, Minister of Antiquities, Dr Zahi Hawass, announced yesterday [Thursday 7th April]  that he will put on a touring exhibition representing the Egyptian revolution in an effort to revive tourism. During a meeting with a delegation of the 25January Revolution Youth, Hawass said he will hold an art exhibition that tells the story of the struggles of the Egyptian Revolution. The exhibition will first be shown in Cairo and then tour 14 European countries. It will consist of art in various media created by Egyptian artists and that reflect their views on Egypt’s Revolution. This will be a positive thing for these artists, since this will give then much needed exposure for their work. After the exhibition has completed a tour in Egypt and Europe, it would be placed on permanent display at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC), now under construction in Al-Fustat area of Old Cairo. Read the full article on the Ahram Online website.

AUC Artefacts Confirmed as Stolen but All Registered – 06/04/11
Photograph of the American University in CairoThe Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities has confirmed that 145 relics from the Islamic era were stolen from the store of the American University in Cairo (AUC) in the period between 15th and 17th March 2011. They confirmed that all the antiquities at the AUC storage are registered and recorded in the Ministry of Antiquities files from 1985. The objects were registered in three different Islamic antiquities logs and archives of Fustat excavations since 1964. The AUC received the artefacts according to Antiquities Law No. 215 from 1951, which allowed the sharing of 50% of the objects found during an excavation between Egypt and the foreign mission working on the site. This was altered in 1983 to 10% in Act 117 of Antiquities, until it was cancelled completely in the new antiquities law introduced last year (2010). Interestingly the objects were stolen from the same collection on 28th June 1989.

Unused Ammunition Found in Desert 3 Km Away from the Pyramids at Giza – 06/04/11
A small bomb exploded near Egypt’s iconic pyramids on Wednesday, badly injuring three peddlers of tourist trinkets that police said, were trying to open the casing of the old abandoned munition. The three people found unused ammunition in the desert about 2 or 3 kilometers away from the Pyramids, but then brought it back to the Giza area. The desert area, which was used as a camp by soldiers during the WWII, includes the remains of ammunition. When it recently rained heavily in Cairo, the rain began to wash away the sand and these remains began to appear on the surface. This was an isolated incident and was in no way a threat to other people in the area, or directed at tourists or at the ancient site. No one else was in any danger and the Giza Plateau is open for business as usual.

Update on Security Regarding the Encroachment on Egyptian Archaeological Sights – 05/04/11
A meeting was held today [Tuesday 5th April 2011], at the Ministry of State for Antiquities Affairs office in Zamalek, Cairo, to discuss encroachment on archaeological sights that occurred during the aftermath of the January revolution. The meeting headed by Zahi Hawass, now Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs and attended by a representative of the Supreme Council of the Military, was held to put into effect the procedures outlined by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Supreme Council of the Military.  They discussed which sites have been affected, and plans in cooperation with military forces in order to remove these encroachments.  Affected areas include Cairo, Giza, Qualubiya, Helwan, Faiyum, Beni Suef, Minya, and 6th of October City, said Dr. Sabry Abd el-Aziz, Head of the Pharaonic Sector at the Ministry of State for Antiquities.

Zahi Hawass First Day Back as the Egyptian Minister for Antiquities – 05/04/11
Yesterday [Monday 4th April 2011], Dr Zahi Hawass, although still up against much speculation, disapproval and growing discontent amongst Egyptologists and archaeologists about his past conduct, has once again taken up the appointment of Minister of Antiquities for Egypt. He swore an oath in front of HE Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Head of the Armed Forces Council, as the new Minister of Antiquities. Hawass is back to his office, one month after his resignation. You can find a video address on his blog website, with Hawass talking about his first day back; the resumption of the opening of some museums and the security measures necessary to safeguard Egypt’s antiquities and efforts to be exerted to restore Egypt’s looted artefacts in collaboration with the world community and UNESCO.

Couple Refuse to Cancel their Nile Cruise and Experience the Holiday of a Lifetime – 04/03/11
This is a recent article in the Scottish Herald, detailing a couples holiday to Egypt in early March 2011. They say, “In some ways now is the best time to visit this gateway into ancient civilisations. Historic sites such as the Valley of the Kings, the Pyramids and the Egyptian Museum, once overrun, are deserted; at no time in the last 30 years has Egypt, or at least its tourist attractions, been more peaceful.” Read the full article on the newspapers website.

Egyptian Archaeologists Campaign for the Removal of Zahi Hawass – 04/04/11
Yesterday [Sunday 3rd April 2011], archaeologists demonstrated in downtown Cairo for the removal of the (again) recently appointed Minister for Antiquities Dr Zahi Hawass. Hawass has been Head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities  for 10 years. Now it’s time for change. Claiming that no one else except him is capable of being in charge of Egyptian Antiquities, is a complete fallacy. Read the full story about why it’s time to make a break from the old regime in this blog article from the 3arabawy website.

75% of US Tour Operators Will Return to Egypt by 1st May – 03/04/11
Recent travel industry article positively suggests that by 1st May 2011, most US Tour Operators will be returning to Egypt.  With developments in Egypt continuing to be positive, since the last informal member poll of 28th February, seven out of 11 responding USTOA (US Tour Operators Association) companies, now say they are returning to Egypt earlier than previously anticipated. Read the full article on the 4Hoteliers website.

Recent Review of One Couples Holiday Experience of Egypt Post Revolution – 01/04/11
A great article about a South African couples’ recent visit to Egypt. They talk about their experiences travelling all over the country. Visiting the famous and awe-inspiring ancient sites; as well as being warmly greeted and taken care of by all the Egyptians they met. ‎They agree that there’s no better time to come and visit us right now. “Egypt’s past and its vibrant, energised, post-revolution present are the ultimate inspiration.” Read the full article on the ‘Mail & Guardian Online‘ website.

Back to this months ‘What’s happening now in Egypt‘ updates and other archives…

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