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A grand opening


By the Gazette Editorial Board

The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), which is still under construction, is a huge project which will be the country's pride and joy. It will be the largest display facility in the world.

According to the Minister of Antiquities, Khaled el-Anani, the museum will be partially inaugurated by the end of this year or early next year. The partial opening seems to be part of the government's plan to promote tourism which has started to pick up pace after a few years of stagnation.

The fact is that archaeology and cultural heritage are major assets of the country's tourism industry. The new museum, which will display the complete 5,000-piece collection of King Tutankhamun as part of its total display capacity of 100,000 items, is expected to promote the country's cultural potential.

For this reason, some experts have argued against the partial inauguration of such a significant project which is attracting world attention. They say that the museum deserves a grand opening when it is fully completed as scheduled in 2022.

The GEM has been situated in an extremely unique location, close to the Pyramids Plateau, so as to create an integrated environment that encompasses the pyramids and the artefacts displayed within.  This association is expressed in the design of the museum building, which has been inspired by the architecture of the pyramids.

The museum and the plateau should, therefore, be regarded as an integrated unit to be marketed via a variety of programmes, according to a comprehensive plan that takes into consideration the accessibility of sites in the vicinity, means of transport and environmental aspects.

Of late, the Pyramids Plateau has been undergoing an upgrading process. But there are still shortcomings that should be addressed if the ministry is planning to make a real difference to the place especially with the propaganda being made about the GEM. Minister Anani has said that the museum will dazzle the world. Indeed, it will, but the surroundings should be in harmony with the grandeur inside. It must be said that the approach to the Pyramids Plateau still needs to be cleaned up, especially in the area of Nazlet el-Semman village.

The ministry should reconsider the decision to open part, not all the museum. It would be unbecoming for tourists to visit the museum before the workers have left the site. And the tourists should have access to the annexed services, so they can enjoy their visit to the maximum.

Egypt should know how to make the best use of the rich cultural heritage of its civilisation that is several thousand years old.