2022 will be a year of major archaeological inaugurations crowned by GEM

Nehal Samir
14 Min Read

Egypt is working to continue dazzling the world with major archaeological openings expected in 2022, crowned by the eagerly awaited opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM).

The country managed to captivate the world with global events last year, such as the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade, followed by the inauguration of the Museum of Civilisation in Fustat, and the reopening of Luxor’s Avenue of Sphinxes.

In this article, Daily News Egypt highlights the inaugurations that will take place in 2022.

The Grand Egyptian Museum

Let’s start by the inauguration of the GEM and the ceremony that the whole world is eagerly waiting to witness.

It will be the largest museum in the world dedicated to one civilisation.

The GEM is the most important cultural project in the world, according to Zahi Hawass, prominent Egyptologist and former Minister of Antiquities. 

Speaking to Daily News Egypt, Hawass said that the GEM is the most important project that he started with Farouk Hosny, Egypt’s former Minister of Culture, but it was left unfinished after the 25 January Revolution.

It is worth noting that it has been built on a total area of 117 feddans in Giza. On 5 January 2002, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak laid the foundation stone of the GEM.

On 25 August 2006, the Statue of Ramesses II was moved from Ramses Square in Cairo to the Giza Plateau in anticipation of the construction of the museum. The statue, estimated to be approximately 3,200 years old, was moved to the entrance of the museum in January 2018.

The museum will display over 5,000 artefacts from the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, which will be displayed together for the first time since their discovery. These artefacts will be displayed in two galleries dedicated to the Pharaoh. 

Hawass said that the GEM will feature the statue of Ramses II along with an obelisk from his reign, with visitors able to view the statues of kings and queens as they proceed up the staircase. 

Concerning the progress in the project, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled El-Anany told Daily News Egypt that the project is 99% complete, and that more than 55,000 artefacts were transferred and restored.

He added that all the heavy pieces in the atrium and the grand staircase have been installed, and more than 85% of Tutankhamun’s collection has been placed in their showcases.

“Also, the area surrounding area of the GEM has been developed, which includes the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road, Al-Remaya Square, and the Cairo-Fayoum Desert Road, as well as the Sphinx Airport that will be inaugurated this year and will make a qualitative leap for tourism in Egypt,” according to El-Anany.

Concerning the inauguration date, the minister said that it will be set by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, promising that the celebration will dazzle and surprise the world. 

El-Anany also revealed that the celebration will last for several days, as this great edifice is deserving of a dazzling celebration.

Despite the date still being set, antiquities experts predict that it will be either on 4 November, as it marks the anniversary of the discovery of the Tomb of Tut Ankh Amun or 22 November, which marks the anniversary of opening the tomb in the presence of lord Carnarvon.

“I really believe that the opening of this museum will be the most important cultural opening in the world, because the GEM proved to the world that Egypt really cares about its ancient artefacts,” Hawass said.

Muhammad Ali Pasha Palace in Shubra

Overlooking an impressive park planted with rare trees and shrubs, the Muhammad Ali Pasha Palace is one of the most important royal buildings in Cairo, as it one of the oldest and most luxurious palaces in Egypt.

Muhammad Ali began building his palace in 1809, with Zulfikar Katkhuda supervised the construction. It was the first massive construction site in Shubra. The palace was built on an area of 50 feddans over several stages that lasted for about 13 years.

The built-up area reached 26 feddans. It consisted of the Jabaliya kiosk building, which has a rectangular shape, and the Fasqiah building, which included a large water basin similar to a lake with a fountain in the middle, surrounded by four halls in the corners, which were the ‘Dining, ‘Asmaa’, ‘Throne’, and ‘Billiard’ Halls.

The palace combined a European decorative style and the spirit of Islamic architecture in design. The main building was similar to a mosque, having four ceilings surrounding a huge fountain as if it were a mosque courtyard.

It was a rare architectural masterpiece, combining architecture and arts of the Western and Islamic worlds. The drawings and decorations of the palace were executed in the Italian and French styles of the 19th century. Mohamed Ali hired French, Italian, Greek, and Armenian artists to decorate his palace.

Among the masterpieces in the palace, there were antique paintings of Mohamed Ali Pasha and his family members. This palace also witnessed critical historical events that shaped Egypt’s modern era.

Egyptian authorities began a project to restore and rehabilitate the Palace of Mohamed Ali Pasha in March 2018 at an estimated cost of more than EGP 194m through a cooperation protocol signed between the tourism ministry and the Engineering Authority of the Armed Forces.

Minister El-Anany told Daily News Egypt that the palace is ready for inauguration and will be opened in February.

The Greco Roman Museum

One of the most important landmarks of the city of Alexandria, the Greco Roman Museum was officially opened in 1892 during the reign of Khedive Abbas Helmy II.

The purpose of building this museum was to preserve the antiquities discovered in Alexandria. The museum initially included 11 halls, and then was expanded to encompass 27 halls after development in 1984, in addition to the museum’s garden.

Most of the museum’s holdings date back to the period between the third century BC until the third century CE, and it includes the Ptolemaic and Roman periods as well as the Coptic era.

The museum continued to perform its scientific, cultural, and educational mission for Egyptian and foreign visitors until the decision of the secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities was issued in 2005 to close the museum for development.

Two sets of antiques were loaned to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Museum of Antiquities and the Alexandria National Museum for temporary display.

The library of the Greco-Roman Museum is one of the most important libraries in Alexandria, as it is filled with many rare books, and it has been moved to a hall in the Maritime Museum to be available to students.

In September 2010, the original ceiling of the library was removed to create the second floor as planned according to the new design of the building after development, but work was halted after the 25 January Revolution. The restoration project resumed in February 2018.

Mahmoud Mabrouk, Adviser to the Minister of Antiquities for Museum Displays, indicated earlier that the museum will display nearly 20,000 artefacts dating back to the Greek and Roman eras, in addition to a museum garden, a centre for preservation and restoration of antiquities, and another centre for currency research.

Moamen Othman, the Head of the Museums Sector at the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that the area surrounding the museum will be developed, including squares, streets, buildings, lighting poles, and parking spaces for cars and tourist buses will be established.

El-Anany told Daily News Egypt that the Greco-Roman Museum in Alexandria will be inaugurated in the summer of 2022.

The Capitals Museum

Located in the City of Arts and Culture in the New Administrative Capital (NAC) of Egypt, The Capitals Museum will showcase the story of Egyptian capitals and their development through the history of Egypt, from the oldest city capital of Memphis to the novel NAC.  The museum is the only one of its kind in Egypt, as it is focused mainly on Egyptian capitals.

Six main capitals were selected to be the highlight of the display: Memphis, Thebes, Tell Al Amarna, Alexandria, Islamic Cairo, and Khedival Cairo. These capitals played a significant role in Egyptian history.

The museum has two main galleries; one is dedicated to Egyptian capitals and the other illustrates ancient Egyptian beliefs and afterlife.

The second gallery consists of the Tomb of Tutu, in addition to a hall of mummies, sarcophagi and two varnishes containing canopic pots, a set of false doors, and alternative heads that mimic the religious rituals of ancient Egypt.

The museum’s vision is conservation of the Egyptian cultural and administrative heritage by reviving the concept of Egypt’s changing capitals across the millennia while emphasising Egypt’s leading role in establishing prominent administrative systems in a unique, one-of-its-kind museum.

The museum is the NAC’s first, and according to El-Anany, it is scheduled to be opened sometime this year.

The Suez Canal Museum

The Suez Canal Museum aims to transform the administrative building of the International Company for the Suez Canal, which was established in 1862, into an international museum that sheds light on the history of the Suez Canal, since the beginning of the idea of linking the Red and Mediterranean seas.

The museum contains 22 exhibition halls as well as a conference hall and laboratories for the restoration of antiquities.

According to the minister, it is scheduled to be opened sometime in 2022.

Amr Ibn Al-Aas’ Mosque

While it is not an inauguration, as the mosque was never closed, but it is a full restoration project that all Muslims are happy about it. Amr Ibn Al-Aas’ Mosque is the oldest surviving mosque in Egypt and Africa. Arabian commander Amr Ibn Al-Aas (d. 664 CE) was one of the first companions of Prophet Muhammad. After conquering Egypt in 19 AH/640 CE, he founded its first Islamic capital, Al-Fustat, which falls within present day Cairo.

A year later, by order of the caliph Omar Ibn Al-Khattab, he also founded the eponymous mosque, which thus became the Al-Fustat’s very first building.

During the early years following the conquest, the mosque served as a place of gathering for the Muslim community and Ibn Al-Aas’ troops, which at the time remained a minority in Egypt.

Several of the prophet’s companions assisted in the building’s construction, including Al-Zubayr Ibn Al-Awam and Ubada Ibn Al-Samit.

The structure was subjected to several episodes of destruction and has therefore undergone many architectural changes throughout its lifetime. Very little of its original composition remains today.

For his part, Osama Talaat — the Head of the Islamic, Coptic, and Jewish Antiquities Sector at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities — explained to Daily News Egypt that it is a restoration project that is part of the Old Cairo Al-Fustat Garden Restoration Project.

Talaat revealed that the restoration project included a full restoration for the mosque in addition to adding an external space for prayers that will accommodate about 10,000 worshipers.

The restoration plan also included raising the efficiency of toilets and renewing modern toilets.

Talaat explained that the restoration took place in accordance with President Al-Sisi’s directives, stressing that there is unprecedented support for the antiquities sector from the political leadership.

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