Egypt’s brand new attraction the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) in Giza, Cairo, is nearly ready to open its doors to the public, with the grand opening expected later this year.
Stay Tuned! pic.twitter.com/yVCs8b4Aj8— Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (@TourismandAntiq) March 11, 2021
1. The opening
Assistant Minister for Archaeological Affairs at GEM, Al-Tayeb Abbas, revealed in an interview with Egyptian satellite channel Extra News, that the $1billion project has now completed 98 percent of engineering facility construction. From architectural competition to planned opening in 2021, the museum has taken almost 20 years to create, whilst construction has taken eight years so far and the opening, originally scheduled for 2011, has been delayed several times. The global Covid-19 pandemic also caused the expected late 2020 date to be moved back again. However, it was revealed last summer that the museum was “96.5 percent” complete and therefore on schedule to be finished for the planned 2021 opening.
2. The museum
The museum covers an immense space of 490,000 square metres and was designed by Dublin-based architects Heneghan Peng. The attraction will feature panoramic views of the famous pyramids of Giza, and the biggest artefact will be a huge statue of Ramses the Great. In addition to this, the grand staircase will boast 87 statues of pharaohs and Egyptian gods. The museum’s impressive collection will be comprised of approximately 100,000 objects, including all 5,600 objects from the tomb of King Tutankhamun. According to Abbas, these artefacts are set to be placed within the Tutankhamun galleries, and include a replica of his tomb as well as his outer coffin and two inner coffins.
The Grand Egyptian Museum will be the world’s largest archaeological museum and in addition to the impressive collection will house 28 shops, ten restaurants, a conference centre and a cinema. It is estimated that 2 to 3 million guests will visit GEM in its first year of opening, and in the longer-term as many as 8 million each year.
3. Transport in Egypt: first high-speed train line set
Egypt’s train network is also receiving a revamp, with the country’s first high-speed train line set to finish within the next two years. The route will connect the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, making travelling around the country significantly easier, and construction is already underway. The line will stretch around 1,000 km with 15 stops along the way. The first section will link El Alamein on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast and Ain Sokhna, and among the 15 stations is the yet-to-be-named “new administrative capital,” which began construction in 2015 in an effort to move government buildings about 28 miles outside of Cairo.
The country has had a train network since the 1850s and was the first country in Africa and the Middle East to install one. The current system is extensive, with more than 3,000 miles of tracks connecting nearly every major city and town, however it is also antiquated and underfunded and so has several safety issues. The country is therefore also currently receiving a monthly shipment of new Russian-made train carriages to upgrade its current fleet in addition to the new high-speed train line project. Egypt is currently developing several touristic attractions such as the GEM to bring visitors to the country, and this new infrastructure will certainly help to make the country more accessible for both them and its residents.