Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Antiquities ministry refuses to rent Egypt's archaeological sites - Ancient Egypt - Heritage - Ahram Online

Good decision.

Antiquities ministry refuses to rent Egypt's archaeological sites - Ancient Egypt - Heritage - Ahram Online: The antiquities ministry has refused a request submitted by the Ministry of Finance to rent Egypt’s renowned archaeological sites in an attempt to close the government's budget deficit.

Some archaeologists have called the proposal 'insulting' and 'humiliating.'

"How can we rent our heritage?" wondered Ahmed Saeed, professor of ancient Egypt at Cairo University. On his Facebook page, Saeed posted a cartoon photo of the Sphinx crying. He wrote a caption underneath that read "Cry dear Sphinx people want to rent you or maybe later cut you into pieces and sell you! Shame on those who want to rent you – the symbol of dignity, power and Egypt’s ancient civilization."

Other archaeologists were suspicious of the request and described it as 'unfolded.' Hatem Sewelam professor of archaeology at Cairo University said the proposal was a 'rumour created by the media.'

Antiquities ministry's secretary-general Adel Abdel-Satar told Ahram Online that the proposal was suggested. He explained that Abdalla Mohamed Mahfouz, a thinker at Al-Ketab Al-Mostanir website whose nationality remains unknown, sent a request in early February to the Ministry of Finance to help Egypt overcome its economical problems, specifically to help close Egypt's budget deficit.

Mahfouz suggested to rent five of Egypt’s well known archaeological sites: the Pyramid of Giza, Sphinx, Karnak Temples in Luxor, and twin Ramses II Temples in Abu Simbel to international tourism companies for five years for an annual rent fee of LE200 billion.

In turn, the Ministry of Finance sent the request to the antiquities ministry and asked the ministry to review the proposal to see whether it was achievable or not.

The Ministry of State for Antiquities sent all official letters concerning the rent proposal of Egypt's archaeological sites to be discussed at the board of directors meeting.

However, the ministry refused the suggestion, stating that Egypt’s heritage is public property and cannot be leased or sold. Accordingly, such course of action is against Egypt’s antiquities law.

"Sending the proposal for discussion at the Ministry of State for Antiquities board of directors meeting protected the decision taken," asserted Abdel-Satar when asked why the proposal was submitted to the ministry. "If I had decided alone and refused the suggestion, my decision could have easily been objected by my bosses."

Abdel-Satar pointed out that the antiquities minister, the cabinet, prime minister, and president could object my refusal decision and settle on whatever they agree upon.

"I was sure that the ministry would refuse the suggestion, as it is against Egypt’s antiquities law, and no one can object the decision taken by the ministry's board of directors because it is considered final," Abdel-Satar confirmed.

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