Archive – May 2011

What’s happening now in Egypt – May 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 May 2011.

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

Egyptian Authorities Say No to European Airline EasyJet Flights – 31/05/11
European low-cost airline carrier has been denied access to Cairo International Airport, sources have told the Wall Street Journal. The report said that Egyptian officials have demanded that the budget airline offer increased services on board in order to gain access to its runways. Read a fuller review on the Bikya Masr news website.

Is it Safe to Travel to Egypt Right Now – 31/05/11
Great article about visiting Egypt right now. There conclusion is that there has never been a better time to come traveling and Egypt is definitely safe. Read the full review on the ‘On the Go Tours’ website.

Can a Tomb Bring Egyptian Tourism Back to Life? – 26/05/11
This is a very recent review featured in The Independent (UK newspaper) by Patrick Cockburn, asking if the opening of seven archaeological sites at Saqqara can tempt back visitors who have stayed away? “Unemployed guides at Saqqara, one of the great archaeological sites of the world, speak hopefully of the publicity surrounding the grand opening of seven tombs boosting foreign interest in Egypt’s past. They stress that never before have visitors been able to see the tomb of Maya, Tutankhamun’s treasurer, with its scenes of bearers bringing offerings, or of the young pharaoh’s general, Horenheb, with incised stone carvings of his military victories.” Well let’s hope. Read the full story in The Independent online.

Security to be Reviewed at Ancient Islamic Sights Across Egypt – 26/05/11
At a meeting on Tuesday 24th May, Zhai Hawass, Minister for Antiquities, met with Dr. Elhussein, the Minister of Waqf to discuss the restoration of a number of Islamic monuments. At this meeting both Ministries agreed that they will select a specialist company to provide security for 76 early mosques in order to protect them from theft. The restoration of the Islamic monuments would come under the MSA and then authority for these would be returned to the Ministry of Waqf so that regular religious activities could be reinstated in the mosques. Read the full statement of the agreement on the Zahi Hawass website.

Ancient Relief is Returned Home to Egypt – 25/05/11
New Kingdom reliefAfter three years in the custody of the Mexican government for investigation, Egypt receives a 17x15cm-wide New Kingdom relief that had been smuggled out of the country illegally. The relief arrived from Mexico on Monday [23rd May 2011] in a diplomatic bag. An archaeological committee from the Ministry of State for Antiquities led by Ahmed Mostafa, head of the returned antiquities section, checked its authenticity. He will have the piece restored and placed in a special display at the Egyptian museum. [Source Ahram Online Website]

Seven New Tombs at Saqqara Open Today – 23/05/11
View from SaqqaraSeven tombs in the New Kingdom Cemetery at South Saqqara were opened to the public this morning [Monday 23rd May 2011] for the first time. The tombs include that of Maya – the treasurer of Pharaoh Tutankhamen and general Horemheb, who himself later became Pharaoh. The Ministry of Antiquities is currently developing a management plan for the Saqqara site in order to enhance its value as a visitor destination as well as promoting local community involvement. Some of these tombs were first discovered in 1843 by Richard Lepsius, but were not fully excavated until an Anglo-Dutch mission began excavating there in 1975. Between 1975 and 1998, the dig was directed by Geoffrey Martin who discovered many of the tombs. Now a Dutch team from Leiden University, led by Dr.Maarten Raven, excavates at the site and are rediscovering and restoring these amazing tombs.Read more about the tombs opening on the Past Horizons website.

Alexandria Seeks to Revive Tourism with Postcards from Egypt – 22/05/11
A postcard from EgyptAn initiative was launched in Alexandria to revitalize Egypt’s tourism industry following the recent decline in tourist activity. The initiative, entitled “A Million Postcards,” involves the distribution of a million pictures of monuments, natural scenes and paintings from Egypt to embassies, consulates, gift shops and foreign cultural centers, especially those of countries that send large numbers of tourists to Egypt. The postcards will also be displayed at Egyptian artistic and cultural events held overseas. Artists and collectors of rare photographs will participate and the project is sponsored by the Alexandria Association for Cultural and Tourist Development. Different companies will be responsible for distributing the postcards. Ahmed Essmat, the head of the association, said the initiative seeks to highlight stability and security in Egypt. He said that a committee of fine arts professors and painters will help choose the postcards.According to a government report, tourism activity dropped almost 46 percent in the first quarter of 2011. In the same period in 2010, the country received 3.5 million tourists, compared to only 1.9 million this year. [Source: Al Masry Al Youm]

Egyptian Museum Curator Optimistic Over Visitors This Week – 21/05/11
If the number of visitors to the Egyptian National Museum continues to increase at the current rate, this means that things will be turning to the better for the tourism industry in Egypt, according to the museum’s curator. The rate of visits to the Egyptian National Museum has been steadily on the rise this week thanks to calm at Tahrir Square, said Tareq el-Awadi – Head of the Egyptian Museum. The number of visitors reached 1,928 on Tuesday, including 1,396 foreigners and 532 Egyptians. On Friday [20th May 2011], there were only 570 visitors: 402 foreigners and 168 Egyptians. During peak seasons the number of foreign visitors to the museum on a single day was estimated at 10,000. [Source: Egypt State Information Service]

More News on the International Coalition To Protect Egyptian Antiquities – 21/05/11
The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (the Ministry) and the International Coalition to Protect Egyptian Antiquities (the Coalition) announced they have reached mutual agreement to cooperate on a comprehensive plan to protect Egypt’s archaeological and cultural heritage sites and artifacts, which will provide a crucial basis for tourism revenue as Egypt rebuilds a successful economy. Projects in the agreement include constructing protective walls at archaeological sites;
increasing training of law enforcement personnel to help prevent looting; developing a nationwide satellite imagery analysis initiative; creating a database of Egypt’s antiquities based on inventories of Egypt’s museums and storage facilities; implementing an education and awareness campaign; and supporting long-term small business and green archaeological site programs. It will be interesting to see how this will be funded. More information on the Archaeological Institute of America website.

Current Measures Being Taken Against Sight Encroachment – 20/05/11
View of the Pyramid field at SaqqaraDr Zahi Hawass has confirmed that today, [Friday 20th May 2011], that MSA personnel, the police and the army worked together to remove all of the new tombs that were built above the site of Mit Rahina. He said that, “On Sunday, we will do this on the West Bank of Luxor and later, at Abusir and Lisht. After that, we plan to continue working to clean up all of the sites that were damaged by looters during and after the Revolution.” During the Revolution, people built over five hundred tombs (a modern cemetery) above sites near the pyramids of Pepi I, Pepi II and Djedkare Isesi at Saqqara. Read the full story on the Zahi Hawass website.

US Delegation to Help Raise Funds for Giza’s Grand Museum – 20/05/11
A US delegation on Tuesday [17/05/11] said it would help raise funds to complete Egypt’s Grand Museum project in Giza and the Civilization Museum project in area of Fostat. During its visit to Cairo, the delegation also proposed requesting the US government to provide Egypt with funds for establishing new museum stores and surrounding archaeological sites with fences to protect them from attacks. Read the full report on the Al Masry Al Youm website.

How Zahi Hawass is Perceived as the Survivor of the Old Regime – 20/05/11
The recent article in the UK’s Guardian newspaper entitled ‘Egypt’s man from the past who insists he has a future’, looks candidly at the events surrounding his resignation and re-appointment after the January Revolution and asks why, after much controversy he is still in the job as Minister for Antiquities. Read the full article on The Guardian website.

Egyptian Delegation Heads to Switzerland to Retrieve 4200-year-old Tablet – 19/05/11
An Egyptian archaeological delegation will head this week [w/c 16/05/11] to Basel, Switzerland, to retrieve an ancient Egyptian tablet from the Basel Museum of Antiquities. The 4200-year-old tablet is made of limestone and dates back to the Fifth Dynasty (2465- 2323 BC) with hunting scenes and other daily life activities from the Old Kingdom (2649-2134 BC) painted on it. The table is 51 cm high and was being showcased at the Basel Museum of Antiquities. Read the full report on the Al Masry Al Youm website.

‘A Great Time to Visit Egypt’ – 16/05/11
This article confirms that there are few crowds, intact infrastructure and an upbeat mood making this an ideal time to visit Egypt. In the words of revolutionary Jawad Nabulsi, “This is the best time to come see Egypt in the making.” Read the full article on the Business Insider website.

Authorities Arrest Police Officer for Possessing Artefacts – 16/05/11
Missing artefact from the Egyptian Museum?A police officer and two others with three statues in their possession have been arrested. A security source said they were apprehended on Wahat Road, in 6th of October City in Giza, when a police
ambush stopped their car for inspection. “The three artifacts are of the head of the pharaonic queen Nefertiti. One is 7cm long, and the other two measure 15cm. They are suspected to be
antiquities,” said the source. He added that the suspects confessed that they intended to sell the pieces. A police report was filed and the appropriate authorities notified to examine the statues.” Read the full story on the Al Masry Al Youm website.

Interpol to Publish Photos of Egyptian Artefacts Missing Post-revolution – 16/05/11
The Interpol mission representative to Egypt, Stephen Tifaut and Egypt Antiquities Minister, Zahi Hawass, recentlt met to focus on how to help find and return the 1228 missing objects from museums and
archaeological sites in the aftermath of the January 25 Revolution. Mohamed Abdel Maqsoud, the general supervisor of the minister’s office told Ahram Online that Interpol will publish photos of the
missing objects in the international market, a measure that will help in recovering these objects. Read the full report on the Ahram Online website.

US Delegation to Help Egypt Government Stop Antiquity Theft – 16/05/11
A delegation of individuals representing US associations and foundations interested in safeguarding Egypt’s antiquities from theft will visit Cairo from 16th to 19th May. Headed by Deborah Lehr, president of the Capitol Archeological Institute at George Washington University, the delegation is working with the relevant Egyptian bodies to investigate how to stop organized theft at archeological sites and preserve the shared human heritage of Egypt’s past. Read the full story on the Al Masry Al Youm website.

Ancient Wonders, All to Yourself – 12/05/11
This newly published article from Reuters, reports on the current state of the Tourism industry here in Egypt and how tourists are looking for a different experience of Egypt since the Jan 25th Revolution. Things are however on the up, “…as the travel bans were lifted by the British, Germans, Italian and French, things began to look up; indeed, Hala el-Khatib, secretary general of the Egyptian Hotels Association reported hotel occupancy was only down by just 15 percent in April compared to the same month a year ago.” Read the full review on the Reuters Business Traveler website.

First Artefact to be Returned to Egypt Since the Revolution – 11/05/11
It was announced yesterday by The Ministry of Antiquities that a limestone stele of the Old Kingdom period (c. 2649-2134 BC), depicting a hunting scene from the daily life of its owner, is to be returned to Egypt by the Museum of Basel, Switzerland. The Museum of Basel has volunteered to return this piece and has already sent back the eye of a colossal quartzite statue of Amenhotep III (c. 1390-1352 BC) found in 1970 at his funerary temple in Kom el-Hettan on the west bank of Luxor. Read the full press release on the Past Preservers website.

Egypt Still Ranks in the Top Destination Wish List for UK – 11/05/11
The January Revolution in Egypt has done little to diminish its lure as a leading destination for British tourists according to research due to be published next month. A recent survey states that, “In the case of Egypt, although people have perceived a slightly higher risk, it hasn’t stopped them from wanting to go there. Egypt is a unique destination with many unique features and the British have a long standing travelling relationship with the country.” Read the full report on the Benzinga travel website.

First Institute of Museology in Egypt to be Established in Cairo – 10/05/11
It was announced today [Tuesday 10th May 2011] that the first ever scientific Institute of Museology in Egypt is to be established in Cairo. The aim is to develop the skills of Egyptian curators and restorers to meet the level of their counterparts abroad. The Institute will train curators on the recent technology used in museums for better display, restoration and museological education. Read the full story on the Ahram Online website.

Egypt’s Former Tourism Minster Jailed for Five Years – 10/05/11
Egypt’s former Tourism Minster has been jailed for five years charged with wasting public funds worth $51m (£31m), after authorising the sale of state-owned land for well below the market price. Read the full story on the BBC News website.

Mystery Surrounds the Origin of Two Recovered Bronze Statues – 08/05/11
After verification by a committee of archaeologists this week, only two of the four returned bronze artefacts are those missing from the list of items from the Egyptian Museum. Mystery still surrounds the origin of the other two statues. Read the full story on the msnbc.com website.

Inspiring Video Welcoming Travellers Back to Egypt – 08/05/11
An inspiring video created by Tourism students in Egypt. An invitation to come and visit Egypt – a beautiful message of hope and determination:

US Tour Operators Looking to Resume Tours to Egypt – 08/05/11
U.S. tour operators and Egyptian officials are hoping to convince hesitant international travelers that Egypt is now safe and stable enough to resume large-scale tourism. A delegation of representatives from the U.S. tourism industry visited the country over Easter weekend, meeting with officials from the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and the U.S. Embassy. Read the full article on the ABC News website.

Madinet Madi Development Project Visitor Centre Opens Next Week – 06/05/11
Photograph of Madinet Madi visitor centreThe Madinet Madi Development Project in the Fayoum governorate, will be opening of its visitor centre this Sunday [8th May 2011]. This project is part of a broader development plan called the Institutional Support to the Supreme Council of Antiquities for Environmental Monitoring and Management of cultural heritage sites (ISSEMM), which began in 2005. It was made possible by a generous grant of €3,500,000 from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Italy. Madinet Madi is one of the most important archaeological sites in the Fayoum region. It was founded during the reigns of Amenemhat III (c 1981-1952 BC) and Amenemhat IV (c 1814-1805 BC) of the 12th Dynasty (c 1981-1802 BC). It contains the ruins of the only Middle Kingdom (c 2030-1802 BC) temple in Egypt. Read more on this story on the Ahram Online website.

Illegal Sale of Pharaonic Statuette Foiled – 06/05/11
Egypt’s security authorities foiled the attempted sale of a statuette that investigators said carries pharaonic inscriptions. The piece is 50cm tall and stands on a 50cm wide platform. In front of it there are three other stautettes, each 21cm high. The two culprits, aged 39 and 36, were arrested after citizens informed security authorities of their possession and the intended sale. Read the full story on the Al Masry Al Youm website,

Mubarak’s Former Cairo Home May Become Hotel – 05/05/11
Photograph of Heliopolis Palace as a hotel in the 1930'sThe Egyptian presidential palace in Heliopolis, once home to former president Hosni Mubarak, may be turned into a hotel, according to a proposal by a major state company. The idea to transform the Heliopolis Palace was discussed by members of Ministry of Tourism and Hotac during their recent ATM (Arabian Travel Market). “We will bring the idea forward to the prime minister,” said Ali Abdul Aziz, chairman and chief executive of the Holding Company for Tourism, Hotels and Cinema (Hotac), a state-run company that owns several historic hotels throughout Egypt. Read more on this story on the Gulf News website.

Four Bronze Artefacts have been Returned to the Egyptian Museum – 02/05/11
Four bronze artefacts retrieved by the MSAFour bronze artefacts have been returned to the Ministry of State for Antiquities. These objects were recovered by the Tourism and Antiquities Police when they caught the criminals with the items, initially believed to have been stolen from the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, in the aftermath of Egypt’s January revolution. Dr. Zahi Hawass, Minister of State for Antiquities, assigned a committee of archaeologists, headed by the director of the Egyptian Museum, Dr. Tarek El-Awadi, to verify the identity and authenticity of the recovered objects. The artefacts all date to the Late Period of Egyptian history (c. 688-332 BC), and the group is composed of two statues of Osiris, god of the afterlife, and two statues of Harpocrates, who represented the god, Horus, as a child. El-Awadi has reported that only two of the four recovered objects, one statue of Osiris (37.5 cm tall) and one of Horus (18cm tall), are actually pieces missing from the Egyptian Museum. The committee of archaeologists is now looking into the origin of the other two statues, so that they may also be returned to the site or museum they came from. These latest recoveries now bring the total number of objects missing from the Egyptian Museum to 31 objects (out of an original total of 54). Read more on this story on the Ahram Online news website.

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

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