Friday, January 20, 2012

Heritage at what cost?

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El Aref)

Almost two months since he took on Egypt's antiquities portfolio, Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim tells Nevine El-Aref about his plans to develop and preserve Egypt's heritage -- including upping ticket prices for tourists

After months of decision, indecision and counter- decision, Egypt's antiquities and monuments have got their own ministry back. The Ministry of State for Antiquities has been resuscitated to join the National Rescue Government (NRG) led by Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri.

Since the start of last year's January Revolution, several ancient monuments and artefacts exhibited in Egypt's museums, storehouses and archaeological sites have suffered from negligence or worse. The prevailing chaos led to a lack of security all over the country, and robberies were commonplace. Meanwhile, the official body, the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), then under the umbrella of the Ministry of Culture, swung between a Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) and an independent SCA body affiliated to the cabinet.

Finally, when the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) established the NRG two months ago, Egypt's antiquities regained its ministry as the MSA. Mohamed Ibrahim, chief of the Tourism Guiding English Department in the Faculty of Arts at Ain Shams University, was appointed to the post and became the second Minister of State for Antiquities, succeeding the better known archaeologist Zahi Hawass.

Ibrahim is no stranger to the SCA or the MSA's archaeological stratum.

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