CAIRO: The Supreme Council of Antiquities is looking to regularize the area surrounding the Giza pyramids, according to recent reports.
The aim is to transform what is largely considered to be a disordered hotchpotch of vendors and guides into a normalized tourism compound. With the regularization of the area, local businesses will only be able to establish themselves within the precinct by paying license fees and rent.
There are concerns that without the appropriate restrictions and protection, Egyptian history and relics it will be put in jeopardy.
A recent report by the Boston Globe highlighted these concerns and questioned Zahi Hawass, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and leader of the plan to normalize the locale, about his reasons for supporting the efforts and the expected impact such plan would have on tourism in the area.
Hawass replied that local businesses have been allowed unregulated access to the region for too long which has led to the damage of the site and to some souvenir sellers becoming aggressive.
Hawass said that, “To the people with camels and horses, the plateau is like a plate with gold, adding, “I want to polish it.
Hawass also highlighted that despite his discontent with the wall that currently restricts access to the pyramid premises, it is a necessary sacrifice in order to preserve the site.
Some say the guards managing the wall are willing to overlook this restriction with a little monetary encouragement.
According to the Boston Globe report, Said Ali, a local independent tour guide is worried that the modernization of the historic site will threaten the future of the local businesses.
Currently, independent tour operators, who depend heavily on their proximity to the pyramids as well as their accessibility, are in competition with government-funded tour operators. Under the new plans, there will be a limited number of allotments available on site for stables and shops.
Upon completion of the project, entrance into the precinct will be reserved only for VIPs and tourists will be permitted to enter on foot.
The project is expected to be put in place this October and cost a total of $35 million (LE 200 million) and will be part of a larger development venture taking place in the Giza plateau.
The Ministry of Culture is overseeing the development of a new museum to be located 2.5 km away from the Giza Pyramids and upon completion of the entire project, an esplanade and a shuttle bus will connect the pyramid complex with the Grand Egyptian Museum.