Archive – Mar 2011

What’s happening now in Egypt – Mar 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 March 2011.

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

Russia Lifts Two-Month Travel Ban to Egypt – 31/03/11
Great news as Russia has now lifted its two-month travel ban on Egypt today [31/03/11]. More than 2.8 million Russian tourists visited Egypt last year, mainly traveling to the Red Sea resorts of Sharm el-Sheik and Hurghada.

Tourism Ministry Calls on US to Lift Travel Ban to Egypt – 31/03/11
Egypt’s Tourism Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour called on the United States to lift its no-travel recommendations for Egypt. During his meeting in Cairo with the US Ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey, Abdel Nour said the country’s security situation was being revised on a daily basis. View the full article on the Al-Masry Al-Youm Website.

Dr Zahi Hawass Returns as Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities – 30/03/11
Dr Zahi Hawass inspecting Dashur - image courtesy of the Hawass Blog WebsiteDr Zahi Hawass has been persuaded back as Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities. Hawass, Chief of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, announced that he had been re-appointed as Minster of Antiquities following a meeting with Prime Minister Essam Sharaf yesterday [Wednesday 30/03/11]. His appointment comes despite a statement earlier this month that he would not accept a post in Sharaf`s government after he was criticized following the looting of artifacts and antiquities during and after the January 25 revolution.

Dr Hawass also recently updated his website with a report on his recent visit to Dahshur, which tells something about the work being done there and mentions the damage at the sight.

Crowd Free Travel Currently the New Norm in Egypt – 29/03/11
Up-to-date article from Susan Hack of the online newspaper website ‘The National’ reporting from Cairo. She focuses on efforts to get Egyptian tourism back on track – and what travelers can expect. Her advice is “If you want to take advantage of a post-revolution travel bargain, and don’t wish to join a package tour, it will be worth the extra money to hire a private guide and driver, not just to inject money into the economy and support the fledgling democracy…” Read the full article on The National website.

Egyptian Tourism Sights for a Brighter Future – 29/03/11
Positive news article looking at a brighter future for Egypt’s Tourism in the next few months. “Cultural tourism seems to have fared marginally better, with independent foreign travellers among the pioneers. Although the Egyptian Tourist Authority has no confirmed statistics for recent tourist arrivals, a manager at the Pyramids information centre told the UK’s Independent newspaper that the site currently sees around 300 foreign visitors per day. At its pre-Revolution height, Egypt’s most famous landmarks were thronged with 4,000 daily sightseers.” Read the full story on the Ahram Online News website.

Number of Passengers and Flights Back to Egypt Set to Rise From June – 28/03/11
Egypt’s Minister for Civil Aviation, Ibrahim Manna said in a statement yesterday [Sunday 27th March 2011], that the numbers of flights and passengers in and to Egypt are expected to rise slowly beginning in June. These predictions are attributed in the main to the relative stability witnessed currently by Egypt. Read the full story on the BikyaMasr website.

Reasons To Visit Us Right Now Here in Egypt – 25/03/11
A great new video highlighting exactly why you should come visit us now here in Egypt.

EgyptAir Announce Transit Passengers Can Now Continue Their Journey Via Cairo – 22/03/11

EgyptAir have just announced the acceptance of all transit passengers arriving from outside of Egypt, who wish to continue their journeys via Cairo Airport, from and to all EgyptAirs networks across the world.

Korean Travel Agents Decide to Send Tourist Groups Back to Egypt – 22/03/11
The Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs hasn’t as yet changed its travel advice concerning travelling to Egypt. However, major travel agents have decided to resume their trips to Egypt by the end of March 2011. Hana Tours and Tour Bean will send the first groups to Egypt on March 26th and 28th, while Mode Tours said that they might send first tourists to Egypt from April when Korean Air restarts its flight to Cairo.

‘Couldn’t be a better time to visit Egypt’ – A Great Message From These Recent Tourist Reviews of Their Latest Trips Here – 20/03/11
Photograph of the Giza Plateau courtesy of The IndependentReally there couldn’t be a better time to visit us now in Egypt. The weather is great, the sights are less crowded and the whole family can enjoy a relaxing sight-seeing trip or leisurely Red Sea Resort vacation. Check out the feedback for yourself in these two great reviews from travellers who have confirmed that Egypt is most certainly safe and that they received a truly welcoming response from all of us here. The article from The Independent UK newspaper talks to various tourists about their holiday experience, such as Tess Parent, a 24-year-old Canadian student backpacking in the region, who said: “When the demonstrations were happening, I was wondering if I should come. When I got here I quickly realised the situation was calm. Everywhere I went, I was welcomed.” The Wall Street Journal US article encourages families to return us in Egypt, “… crowds are non-existent and, make no mistake, Egyptians want you here.” Certainly yes we do.

12 Missing Artefacts Returned to the Egyptian Museum of Ancient Antiquities in Cairo – 17/03/11
Some great news that 12 of the 54 missing artefacts taken from the Egyptian Museum were found yesterday [Wednesday 16th March 2011], with arrests made. With the help of Egypt’s military forces, the Antiquities Police succeeded in catching three of the thieves who broke into the Egyptian Museum on 29 January, finding with them 12 of the museum’s missing pieces. The pieces that have been returned are 7 statues, 5 bronze statues and 1 limestone statue, plus 5 necklaces, one is golden and the others are made of faience and coloured glass. Read a full report on the Luxor Times blog website.

UNESCO to Send Delegation to View Egypt’s Archaeological Sites and Monuments – 17/03/11
UNESCO Head Irina Bukova announced that a special UNESCO delegation is to visit Egypt early next week [w/c 21/03/11] to check on the status of Egypt’s archaeological sites and monuments, especially those subject to looting attempts. In a recent statement she says “UNESCO and its partners stand solidly by all those who’re defending their heritage. We are rallying all of the expertise we can muster to help them succeed.” Read the full statement on the UNESCO website.

Professor Salima Ikram Confirms Protection Back to Egypt Sights is Underway – 16/03/11
In a statement issued today [Wednesday March 16th 2011], Salima Ikrm said, “You will be happy to know that the Museum [of Ancient Egyptian Antiquities] initiative to take signatures to the Prime Minister for the restoration of the police at sites is underway and that police are now appearing at sites. Looting seems to have stopped.” Professor Salima Ikram is a professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo, a participant in many Egyptian archaeological projects, the author of several books on Egyptian archaeology and a contributor to various magazines and television programs.

‘Project Ambassador” – Great Initiative to Assist Tourists in Egypt – 16/03/11
Project Ambassador Tshirts
Project AMBASSADOR is a non-profit initiative aimed at providing on the ground assistance to visitors all over Egypt and will contribute to the encouragement of tourism back to Egypt. The main objective is to provide assistance and information resources which all tourists and out-of-town visitors can access. By experiencing pleasant, courteous and safe, on-the-ground interaction, tourists visiting Egypt would feel truly welcomed and more valued, as well as increasing their sense of ease, comfort, and security. It will be based on volunteering efforts by individuals who are not only passionate about their country but also interested in contributing positively to the Egyptian economy through the restoration of one of Egypt’s major industries.

Trained volunteers would be based at many tourist specific locations all over Egypt and would be provided with the required equipment, information materials, and uniforms. The purpose of the AMBASSADOR uniform is to present a unified image for the “Ambassadors” as official and trusted representatives, and to ensure that they are easily recognisable by visitors. Check out their website and Facebook page for more information.

Egypt’s Tourism Minister Working Hard to Lift Russia’s Travel Ban to Egypt – 16/03/11
Egypt’s Tourism Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour is currently visiting Russia in the hope of seeing the flight ban lifted to Egypt. With its unique combination of ancient heritage and lively beach resorts – plus relaxed visa requirements – Egypt has long been a popular tourist destination for Russians. Nour told journalists at a meeting on Monday 14th March, “I give my assurance that the situation in our country is absolutely safe and secure.”

“All countries have lifted their bans and stopped advising their tourists against coming to Egypt. The only exceptions are Russia, Australia and the US.” He anticipated seeing a return to last year’s visitor numbers, when 2.8 million Russians visited Egypt.

Tourism in Egypt Gradually Returning to Normal – 15/03/11
Great announcement as Minister of Tourism, Mounir Fakhry, confirmed today [Tuesday 15th March 2011] at a conference in Moscow that tourism here in Egypt is gradually returning to normal.

US Based Tour Operator ‘Gap Adventures’ Resume Tours to Egypt – 15/03/11
More good news on the return of tourists to Egypt as US based ‘Gap Adventures’, on of the world’s adventure travel leaders, will resume tour operations in Egypt beginning Thursday March 17th 2011. “The security and safety of our travellers and staff is our top priority,” says Sue Barreau, Gap Adventures’ Middle East Senior Operations Manager. “Information from our team of experts in the region indicates that the required tourism infrastructure is in place to safely and effectively operate our tours”.

Official List of Missing Objects from the Cairo Museum of Ancient Antiquities Released – 15/03/11
Sad news, but an official list of objects missing from the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities in Cairo has now released on the official SCA website today. It appears that there are total of 54 missing items, including another statue of Tutankhamun, statues of Amarna princesses, a large amount of statuettes of godheads, a large amount of jewellery and several other types of items (including a trumpet and fan of the boy-king). The full list can be found on the SCA website.

The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities Asks For it’s Land Back – 14/03/11
Photograph of Tutankhamuns' burial maskThe Director of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Tarek El-Awadi, is asking for the return of the land of the former ruling National Democratic Party’s main headquarters to its original owner, the Museum. El-Awadi suggests that after the demolition of the gutted NDP’s building, the land could be made into an open-air museum, showcasing some of the museum’s collection, which is now overflowing in its internal displays. It could be also a twin building to the museum connected by a bridge. This building could be the location for the gold collection of the 19th dynasty king, Tutankhamun. Read the full story on the ahramonline news website.

Join the Petition to Ask Egypt’s Transitional Authority to Provide Adequate Monument and Site Security – 14/03/11
There is still continuing concern and reported looting of a number of sights across Egypt, including most recently Mendes and Tell el-Tanis in the last week. Although looting is not a new problem in Egypt, (tomb robbing has been happening in Egypt since 3,000 years ago), it is worrying that there are few resources currently being deployed to protect these sights adequately. This current petition calls on the Egyptian Transitional Authority and Military to immediately restore adequate security measures to the ancient, Islamic, Coptic and Jewish sites, monuments and storehouses, to stop the unprecedented theft and vandalism and restore adequate protection to the legacy of Egyptian cultural heritage. Take a look at the Facebook page for the petition and sign up to it on the GoPetition website.

Egypt’s Chairman of the Egyptian Tourism Authority Interviewed at ITB – 13/03/11
A very positive interview with Amr el-Ezabi, Chairman of the Egyptian Tourism Authority from the ITB Berlin. Mr el-Ezabi was very keen to let the world know that Egypt is most certainly open for business this season and that visitors should take advantage of the current ‘crowd-free’ experience of visiting the sights. Take a look at the interview for yourself:

New Travel Slogans Created by the New Tourism Ministry for Egypt – 13/03/11

These are just some of the new promotional slogans developed by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism to entice visitors back to us here in Egypt. Strong words mark the new slogans: “Welcome to the country of peaceful revolution”; “7,000 years of history and a new era”; “Tahrir – a square rocks the world”; A new era of hospitality”; “Peaceful change is in the air”; “A peaceful revolution inspires the world”; “The online revolution – made in Egypt” and “Nothing new here, history is made”. Certainly a great new era for Egypt.

Visitors to ITB Berlin 2011 Celebrate the Return of Tourists Back to Egypt – 11/03/11
Visitors to ITB Berlin 2011, the annual international tourism trade show, celebrate New Egypt and welcome tourists back in the ‘Egyptian Hall’, taken over by the Egyptian delegation to the show.

Tourists Urged to Take Advantage of ‘Crowd-Free’ Egypt – 10/03/11
Tour operators are saying that now’s the time to visit Egypt if you want to avoid the crowds. A spokesman for the Egypt Tourist Board quoted, “The weather is very mild at the moment and there are no crowds, so you don’t have to wake up early to visit sites. You have the temples to yourself, guides don’t rush you, and you have more time to take photos.” Read more on the Wanderlust travel review website.

Egypt Returns to the Top 5 List of UK Summer Getaways – 10/03/11
The UK travel industry has confirmed that Egypt has returned to the Top 5 list of popular Summer vacation destinations for 2011. GfK Ascent recorded more than 5,000 Summer 2011 bookings for Egypt  last week. [Update from the Travel Weekly UK website]

Encouraging Tourism Back to Egypt – 09/03/11
New initiatives and talks by Egypt’s new Tourism Minister Munir Fakhri Abdulnour are taking place, currently focusing on getting tourists back to Egypt and lifting current travel restrictions from countries such as Russia. With his attendance at the ITB in Berlin, he will also be talking to global tour operators and agents in order to join them on devising joint investment programs, and organising publicity campaigns for Egyptian tourism. [Update from the Global Arab Network website]

Egypt to Take Part in ITB Berlin – the Worlds Leading Travel Trade Show – 09/03/11
A delegation from Egypt is to take part in the annual International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin from today [09/03/11] until the 13th March. During the five-day event, a celebration will be held to mark Egyptian tourism and highlight the main tourist goals for the future of a New Egypt. A press conference, followed by various events in one of the main halls (Hall 23a), including ‘Hand in Hand into a New Era‘, will mark these celebrations. Also as the official ITB Partner Country, Egypt will be flying the flag in 2012. Visit the ITB website for more details.

Presumed Latest Published List of Missing Artefacts from the Cairo Museum of Antiquities – 08/03/11
The Penn Cultural Heritage Centre, based at the University of Pennsylvania has been keeping an up-t0-date record of artefacts suspected as gone missing from the Cairo Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. The list is available from the Cultural Heritage Law website and was last updated at the beginning of March 2011.

New Future for the Dissolved ‘Ministry of Antiquities’ – 07/03/11
In the latest Cabinet rumours / changes in Egypt, now under the auspices of the newly appointed Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, the new Minister of Culture has been announced as Emad Abu Ghazi. However, it has been rumoured that the previously created ‘Ministry for Antiquities’ has now been dissolved and will become the revived ‘Supreme Council of Antiquities’ (SCA) under the direct supervision of the Cabinet, rather than the Ministry of Culture. The new head of the SCA, (previously Dr Zahi Hawass) is yet to be decided and a referendum to elect the new Secretary General will be held on Friday 18th March.

Interesting Article from The New Statesman – ‘Egyptologists Speak Out’ – 07/03/11
A new article today talks out against the scare mongering about continued reports of the looting of Egyptian sights and artefacts. Representative Egyptologists from both Egypt and the UK in this article try to explain how ordinary Egyptians, from all sectors of society, all equally proud of their heritage physically risked their lives to protect museums and sights from attack. The article also questions the continued future of archaeology in Egypt. Read the full story on The New Statesman website.

Antiquities Collection at Qantara East Storehouse Moved to the Cairo Museum – 06/03/11
In an attempt to protect Egypt’s antiquities, an archaeological mission led by Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, Head of Antiquities of Alexandria and Lower Egypt, transported artefacts from the Qantara East storage facility in Sinai to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The transported collection includes artefacts that belong to theplanned Port Said, Sharm El-Sheikh and Taba museums. The objects are now stored in the basement of the Egyptian Museum, in order to protect them from looting attempts. Two weeks ago the Qantara East storehouse was subject to looting where thieves stole some 550 pieces. Two days following the theft, the Ministry of Antiquities succeeded in retrieving 292 items.

Dr Zahi Hawass Resigns as Minister for Antiquities – 03/03/11
Photograph of Dr Zahi Hawass, courtesy of his websiteShortly after Hawass made a statement on his website this morning about the current status of Egyptian Antiquities, news came of his resignation, (along with that of the Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq). Hawass said “he was happy that he had made the “right decision” in resigning”. He also lashed out at colleagues who have criticised him, including one who has accused him of smuggling antiquities.

Tell Basta-Project Starts its Regular Spring Excavation Season – 03/03/11
Photograph of Tell Basta Project excavations courtesy of the EES website Dr Eva Lange, Head of the Tell Basta-Project has confirmed that they have started their regular spring season today [03/03/11]. At present only Dr Eva Lange and Dr Daniela Rosenow are at Zagazig. The rest of the team will follow next week.

They have confirmed that all magazines and the museums have not been looted at all. The local authorities reported that there was an attempt to loot the sight and magazine two weeks ago, but the local Ghafirs were able to protect the sight and no harm was done.

Find out more information about the Tell Basta-Project on the Egypt Exploration Society EES website.

Latest Statement from Dr Zahi Hawass on the Status of Egyptian Antiquities – 03/03/11
Dr Zahi Hawass has released a new status update today [03/03/11] reporting the extent of damage and looting of our Egyptian Antiquities. He seems to provide an update on what is so far known about the Egyptian Antiquities Museum, all Pharaonic sights, Islamic monuments and storage magazines across Egypt. Read the full statement on his website.

Good News as Further US Tour Operators Return to Egypt – 02/03/11
Grand Circle Travel and its Overseas Adventure Travel, will return to Egypt with tours on March 14th. Florida-based Sunny Land Tours this week began sending customers back to the Egypt on regular package itineraries. Meanwhile, Abercrombie & Kent USA says it will resume regular operations in Egypt on April 1st, with small group tours to begin on April 14th 2011. [Update from Egypt Then and Now website]

Foreign Media Coverage Helping Bring Tourism Back to Egypt – 02/03/11
Various foreign TV channel reporters from Belgium, Switzerland and France are sending film crews and reporting on tourism in Egypt and how it was affected by the recent events. So far they have been to Cairo, Luxor and Aswan. Also groups of Italian journalist are currently on visits to the sights in different parts of Upper Egypt and German journalists will be reporting soon. [Update from Luxor Times Blog]

Dr Zahi Hawass States He May Resign Over Recent Thefts – 02/03/11
In a statement released yesterday [01/03/11] Dr Zahi Hawass claimed that his department was unable to protect Egypt’s historic sites and artefacts and that he was considering resigning. In a telephone interview he said that thieves on Monday broke into two warehouses near the Pyramids at Giza that held artefacts excavated in the early 20th century. It was not yet clear what had been taken. He said that the police were no longer protecting Egypt’s monuments and that his own staff was unarmed and unable to stop attacks. Hopefully more information will be announced this week on the looting and Dr Hawass’ position. [Update from The Talking Pyramids website]

Sad Story of Further Looting at Saqqara – 01/03/11
View of the Step Pyramid at SaqqaraToday [01/03/11], Dr Zahi Hawass received a report about breaking into two magazines near the pyramids early this morning. Looters headed towards the road to the second pyramid in Saqqara in their attempt to break in two antiquities magazines. They threatened 5 of the guards and the police guard, tied them down and plastered the mouths before they break into the two magazines which are two rock tombs with no carvings. One of the magazines had the reports of Dr. Selim Hassan excavations from years 1929 till 1968.

Ali El Asfr, Head of Saqqara Antiquities, said “the storage magazine is a rock tomb south to the road to Khafra pyramid and it was sealed with a metal and wooden doors from inside and brick wall from outside, still the looters broke into.” He also referred that an initial inspection in co-operation with the tourism police and Saqqara inspectors showed vandalism in both of the magazines and a number of pottery and clay objects thrown in the entrance of the magazine. An inventory with the General Persecutor to be done.
Dr. Sabry Abd El Aziz agreed on transferring the antiquities in the magazines to the main storage in the area. [Update from The Talking Pyramids website]

Egyptian Stock Market Due to Reopen on Tuesday 1st March Delayed- 01/03/11
After almost one month of closure the Egyptian authorities announced on Sunday that the Egyptian Stock Market is due to reopen today [01/03/11], however they have decided to delay now until Sunday 6th March. The country’s benchmark index, EGX30, fell nearly 17 percent in the two days before the government halted trading on January 27th.

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

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