Headline January 21, 2017/ ''' *EGYPT* IN ECHOES '''


WITH A SHAKY ECONOMY  following years of unrest and a huge drop in tourists, Egypt is struggling to preserve its fabled archaeological heritage.

From Alexandria on the Mediterranean to the  Great Pyramid of Giza  -the last of the  Seven Wonders  of the Ancient World   -and Aswan to the south, the North African country is home to impressive ancient monuments.

For years, the sites were able to rely on a steady stream ticket sales to finance their upkeep. But the number of tourists to the country has dwindled, leaving authorities scrambling to make up for lost revenues.

*Looks like the curse of the  pharaohs  is making its effect felt on a nation that prides itself on the historical past.*
''Since January 2011. our revenues have fallen sharply, which had a strong effect on the state of Egyptian monuments,'' Antiquities Minister Khaled el Enany told AFP.

From more than 15 million in 2010, the number of tourists visiting Egypt dropped to 6.3 million in 2015.

Years of political tumult after the 2011 uprising that unseated strongman Hosni Mubarak and a Jihadist insurgency following the army's 2013 overthrow of his Islamist successor Mohammed Morsi have discouraged many tourists from visiting the country.

Revenues from entrance tickets to historical sites dropped about US$ 38 million in 2015, from about US$220 million in 2010.
''It's catastrophic,'' said Fayza Haikal, an Egyptologist and professor at the American University of Cairo.

Zahi Hawass, an archeologist and former antiquities minister, said the country's heritage has suffered as a result.

''With lack of funding, you cannot restore anything. Look at the Cairo museum. It's dark,'' he said, referring to the famed  Egyptian Museum in the capital's Tahrir Square.

''And you cannot ask the government to support you because the economy is not that good. And Antiquities are deteriorating everywhere,'' he said.   

Administering the country's antiquities takes about  38,000  employees, including-on-site  workers, technicians, Egyptologists and inspectors, the ministry says.

The government has relied on foreign handouts since Morsi's overthrow, and finally decided to float its currency this year as part of an economic reform programme connected to a loan from the International Monetary Fund.

And important part of an economic revival would include the return of the -life and prosperity giving-, Tourism.

Until then, Khaled is trying to limit the damage. ''I try to do extra activities to increase revenue,'' he said.
For example, the Egyptian Museum, home to the golden mask of ''Tutankhamun''  and mummies of pharaohs, now stays open into the night, he said.

Annual passes are also available to encourage Egyptians to visit the sites. Patrons and archaeological missions still contribute to the preservation of Egypt's ancient heritage, but funds cannot cover everything.

''Priority is given to restoration,'' said Haikal. ''But there are excavations that have been stopped due to lack of funding.''

The excavations  ''have waited for 5000 years and can wait,'' she said, but important restoration work has also been delayed.
''At the very least, we identify what needs restoration, and we do the minimum to keep them in proper state.''

Khalid is also pushing for granting public access to more sites, as was done with the recently-opened tombs of Nefertari and Seti I in Lutor.

The Malawi museum in southern province of Minya has also been reopened, after a mob looted it during the bloody unrest following Morsi's overthrow.

The Grand Egyptian Museum near the Ginza pyramids should also be opened, at least partially, in 2018.

On some projects, the ministry can get special funds, such as for work done this year on the synagogue  of Alexandria and the Abu Mena church, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Hawass, who advises Khaled, says the minister needs more support and also for authorities to think beyond Egypt by undertaking exhibitions abroad.

''Why leave Tutankhamun in the Cairo museum, in a dark area. No one sees it,'' he said

''Tutankhamun can bring money!''

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all on !WOW!   -the World Students Society and.... Twitter-!E-WOW!  -the Ecosystem 2011:

''' History & Time '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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