Monday, May 23, 2011

An overlooked temple in Qena could offer the city better prospects

Al Masry Al Youm (Heba Afify)

Outside the Upper Egyptian city of Qena - only 60km north of Luxor - lies Dendara, a unique temple from the Greco-Roman period. Despite its historic value, limited efforts to develop the area have put it at a disadvantage. Receiving only a few hundred visitors per week, the people of Qena are deprived of the much-needed economic benefits of potential tourist activity.

In 2006, the Supreme Council of Antiquities announced that it would restore the space. The ambitious project was to include the construction of a museum, a cultural center, bazaars, restaurants and other services around the temple.

The restoration of the temple’s interior is almost complete, but the city’s development has witnessed little progress. Although land was allocated for the museum five years ago, construction work never started. With only one hotel in the city and very few bazaars, the Dendara temple has failed, despite its significance, to “take its place on the touristic scene,” as the head of the temple’s restoration team Fathy Ashour acknowledged.

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