Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Anany has said that the new Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) is set to be officially inaugurated in 2020, saying the ministry has strict directives from the country’s political leadership for the opening to be held that year.
El-Anany said that the entrance tickets are to be priced at EGP 5 for Egyptian students, 10 EGP for a public ticket, and free for students of free schools.
The minister gave the statements during a meeting of the Egyptian parliament’s culture, media and antiquities committee on Sunday.
El-Anany announced that the terms and conditions booklet will be ready soon for the Emirati company and international consortiums that have said they will be bidding to administer the facility.
The GEM complex is located on an area of approximately 500,000 square metres adjacent to the Pyramids of Giza. It is one of the largest museums in the world displaying the heritage of a single civilisation.
The construction of the museum began in 2006 with funding from the Japanese government.
“GEM construction slowed down following the outbreak of the revolution in January 2011, but in 2019 the construction began to move ahead again at a great pace and 80 percent of the work has so far been completed,” El-Anany told the committee.
He said that the great value of Egypt’s new museum led the government of Japan to loan Egypt $450 million to build it, but the total cost of the museum is expected to reach $1 billion.
“So far we have been able to transport 45,000 antiquities to the new museum to be ready for display when it opens in 2020,” said El-Anany.
The museum will contain over 100,000 artefacts, reflecting Egypt’s past from prehistory through to the Greek and Roman periods.
Speaking about the ministry’s work, El-Anany said there is currently a major archaeological discovery in Egypt almost every week.
“There will be a great archaeological discovery in Giza’s Saqqara region, and I invite all members of parliament to attend the event next week,” said the minister, without providing further details.
On the renovation of the religious archaeological heritage, El-Anany affirmed that Jewish heritage is an important part of Egyptian heritage, and is top priority for the ministry, as is the Pharaonic, Roman, Islamic and Coptic archaeological heritage of the country.
The minister also revealed that the ministry will raise the price of entrance tickets to the pyramids for foreigners from EGP 80 to EGP 200, starting next November.
“Egyptians aged 60 years and older will be exempted from the entrance fee, while the ministry will issue an annual subscription ticket for Egyptian students for EGP 150,” the minister said.
On the latest developments in retrieving Egyptian artefacts that have been smuggled abroad, the minister said that a number had been discovered in Sharjah Emirate in the UAE, and many have been retrieved directly or by lawsuits.
El-Anany also revealed that the ministry is investigating a recent case of an artefact that was stolen from inside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, adding that he can’t reveal the details of the incident at the time being.
On the case of the smuggled artefacts discovered in Naples in May, El-Anany said that the case involved 21,000 ancient coins and 151 small statues. All were retrieved by the Egyptian general prosecution within only a month.
“This is the shortest period of time known to retrieve smuggled artefacts,” El-Anany said; however, he added that the full details of the case are still being investigated by the prosecution, who will identify the smugglers and who the artefacts were intended for.
In May, Italian authorities seized a huge collection of artefacts in Naples from several countries, including Egypt.
According to officials in the Ministry of Antiquities, the objects were stolen from illegal excavation sites, as there are no records of the artefacts in Egyptian museums.
The artefacts include a collection of pottery from different ancient eras, parts of sarcophagi and coins. Also among the artefacts were objects from the Islamic period.