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Sold to the highest bidder? Pyramids of Giza up for grabs

Sold to the highest bidder? Pyramids of Giza up for grabs

Qatar would like to 'rent' all of Egypt's monuments, historical sites, and antiquities.
Qatar would like to ‘rent’ all of Egypt’s monuments, historical sites, and antiquities.

A recent offer by Qatar to ‘rent’ Egypt’s national treasures in exchange for 200 billion US dollars has attracted harsh criticism from the Ministry of Antiquities, Egyptologists, activists, and the Egyptian population.

The Ministry of Antiquities, which rejected Qatar’s bid and the Ministry of Finance’s proposal, stated in a press release that Egypt will never accept the possibility of compromising or allowing the exploitation of its cultural heritage and civilization.  Adel Abdel Sattar, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that it is impossible for Egypt to rent its monuments, “This is our heritage…our roots.”

The Ministry of Finance and high-ranking Muslim Brotherhood officials believed that the rental of Egypt’s treasures to Qatar or international companies would be a quick solution to Egypt’s financial woes. Egypt’s GDP is said to have dipped below 200 billion US dollars in 2013, and the funds generated from the rental of monuments would almost surely end the country’s financial crisis. In fact, renting the monuments for $200 billion would dwarf the $4.8 billion IMF loan that President Morsi and his government have been chasing after since late 2012.

The financial benefits are clear – Egypt’s economy and future can be saved. Other benefits include better management of Egypt’s historical sites (as I wrote in a previous article on the Pyramids, the management has been very poor since the revolution), the introduction of new ideas, and the potential to spread Egypt’s culture to a wider audience.

A widely shared cartoon in Egypt depicting President Morsi telling Qatar's Emir "Choose the Pyramid that you like. If you buy two, you'll get the third for free!"
A widely shared cartoon in Egypt depicting President Morsi telling Qatar’s Emir “Choose the Pyramid that you like. If you buy two, you’ll get the third for free!”

Nevertheless, to what extent do any of those benefits outweigh the dignity and pride of Egypt?

The oldest of the Seven Wonders of the World took over 15 years to construct and has remained standing for over 3,700 years. Throughout that time, the Pyramids and other historical sites have reflected Egypt’s pride and glory. Most importantly, Egypt’s national treasures have embodied the strength of the Egyptian people – they are a reminder that though Egypt has endured invasions, plagues, famine and other adversities, the Egyptian people have always prevailed.

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Millions of foreign tourists flock to Egypt, hoping to stand in the shadows of the monolithic statues of Pharoah Ramsees II at Abu Simbel. Egyptologists have spent thousands of hours studying detailed paintings on the inner-walls of Egyptian monuments that reveal the daily-life scenes of ancient Egyptians. Tourists come to experience Egypt’s culture, traditions, and its treasures. They flock to museums across the globe whenever ancient Egyptian exhibitions are launched. In schools around the world, children are taught about the great ancient Egyptian civilization.

Yet, in just seven months of being in power, President Morsi and his incompetent Islamist government want to sell Egypt’s civilization to the highest bidder.

The Pyramids, Abu Simbel, and other historic sites are the Egyptian people’s source of inspiration. Taking that away would wipe out any hope for a better future.

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  • Math

    Can you see the dirty game behind how the military had removed Morsi from power on July 3. Asparagas news. LIAR bin LlAR

  • KevMortimer

    This would be the best thing to ever happen to these ancient sites. There is only 1% of Egyptians that actually care about these monuments, yet they bring in billions of tourist dollars.

    The rental of the sites would not be for advertising, but the management of the sites. They all need to be cleansed of the annoying touts, the manure, and the hassle.

    I would rather be able to sit back and enjoy the view, than be constantly hassled by touts selling Chinese made junk, or camel drivers begging me to go for a ride.

    The only Egyptians that I met that I liked, were the ones that were not associated with the tourism industry. By renting these sites and allowing others to manage them, the experience would be much better for the tourist. The entire world knows this is true.

    I’m sure a group of 10 year old kids that have managed a lemonade stand could do a better job managing these sites.

  • Pingback: Sold to the highest bidder? Pyramids of Giza up for grabs ~ Egyptian Streets | Stop Making Sense()

  • I’m curious,
    how is it even
    possible to “rent”
    an ancient momument.
    What would be the
    point even? Will they
    be licenced like
    celibrities and used
    to sell products?

    I don’t think it would
    be a good idea to
    hang billboards on
    them either as it
    could damage the
    structures –

    There was a
    rumer a long
    time ago that
    the great wall
    of china was
    going to be
    torn down,
    but it was
    just a rumer.

    I’m curious
    What would
    it mean to
    rent these
    momuments,
    what would
    Quarter do
    with them?

    A beer
    factory
    once
    wanted
    to change
    the name
    of local
    ufo
    from
    marfia
    to
    miller
    but
    was
    denyed
    the
    privledge.

    Would
    the
    monuments
    be
    renamed?

  • Reblogged this on AraBelle!.

  • The assumption is that the dignity of Egypt would be sullied by renting — not selling, let’s be clear, the headline is totally misleading — their heritage. Egyptians surely do feel their dignity would be sullied, but it is interesting that no such concern arises when the Egyptians themselves charge for admission to their heritage. It is also interesting that the “renting” of King Tut exhibitions around the world does not appear to have reduced the dignity of Egypt in the eyes of the many thousands who paid to get the opportunity to wonder at and honor some tiny fraction of Egypt’s magnificent heritage.

    • I did not go into the ‘terms of rental’, but I might as well now. The ‘rent’ would consist of the monuments being handed over to country X for a period of 5-6 years. During that time, country X would have COMPLETE control over its management, handling, and its revenues (aka it’s as if they bought it for 5 years and then gave it back).

      The exhibitions that travel around the world are managed by Egypt – the items that are put on display are all carefully displayed, stored etc. by a team that is hired by Egypt. Furthermore, a significant amount of that revenue returns to Egypt (I think it was around 40-50%). The difference that would arise from ‘renting’ Egypt’s antiquities would be that country X would manage the items, store the items, and do whatever it wishes with the items – this is not what happens these days as the items remain under Egyptian control at all times.

      • Thanks very much for that additional information about the terms of the rental. None of that information has been mentioned in any of the English language articles I have read. I am assuming that there is documentation in the Egyptian press of the terms as you are detailing them. It is difficult to believe that anyone in their right mind would imagine a country agreeing to no-strings-attached control of any property — and especially cultural property! — being given over to any foreign entity, whether a country or a company.

        I do not think it is true that Egypt managed the AEI tour of King Tut materials — AEI produced the show, including handling all the security (here’s a link on that: http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/54106643/priceless-art-securing-museums-libraries). I am also not sure that Egypt simply paid AEI, though I might be mistaken here — I believe AEI and other non-Egyptian companies financed and got a cut of the profits from the tour (“AEI is joined by Anschutz Entertainment Group, which operates sports stadiums, promotes pop concerts and theatrical productions, and National Geographic (news – web sites) magazine.

        The three entities will finance the entire costs of shipping, designing, installing and marketing the King Tut exhibit, and share profits with participating museums and Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.”

        What Egypt I am sure did do was to very carefully work out in the contract they signed exactly what they expected AEI to do in terms of protecting the materials being turned over to them. The key point, I think we agree, is that any contract to display or store Egyptian heritage must be written in such a way as to ensure it is well-protected and well-maintained, so that it is returned to Egyptian control in at least as good condition as it was when it was turned over.

  • Very sad. London has had large chunks purchased by individuals from oil rich countries and lately Russians. Nothing as outrageous as the Pyramids but it is a sad reflection on the way of our world.

  • Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

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