Saturday, May 31, 2014

New Opening, Cairo: 139 LOUNGE - Mena House Palace & Hotel

One of Egypt's most historic, legendary and downright amazing properties opens up a stunning new lounge and bar next week, and we've got the exclusive scoop...

The Great Pyramids of Giza are a majestic sight sought buy travellers world wide, and sadly ignored by too many Egyptians. Standing at a whopping 139 metres in height, the awe inspiring architectural marvel is a site of Egyptian pride that needs to be seen by all.

Just when you thought the site couldn't be any more beautiful, enters the Mena House with their newest venue, Lounge 139, providing the most spectacular, breathtaking view of the Pyramids in all of Cairo. Surrounded by carefully maintained landscape gardens, fountains, and a reflection pool, the 139 Lounge provides a unique oasis setting at the foot of the Pyramids. With a diverse array of Pan Asian cuisine, 139 guarantees that all your senses will pleased with an experience that sure to make a lasting memory.

The relaunch of the newly refurbished and renovated lounge is set to open June 1st, and is exciting news for anyone looking for delicious cool drinks with a sublime view. Residing inside the historic Mena House, 139 provide a traditional authentic experienced that has been shared by some of histories most important leaders. From Winston Churchill to Jimmy Carter, anyone who was someone in the last 140 years have gazed at the Pyramids in wonderment, looking for inspiration, while making decisions that affected the world.

Serenity is within your reach. Don't waste your money travelling. There is absolutely no need to flee Cairo this summer, as the best sights in all of Egypt opens next and is serving the finest eats with the coolest drinks conveniently located at the birthplace of civilisation. There's nothing else to do in the Haram area anyway. Stay tuned for more updates on what's bound to be your favourite hot spot...

Friday, May 30, 2014

News, Luxor: A Replica for Seti I & Nefertari Tombs after the Tut's Tomb Replica

How high-tech copies of ancient archaeological sites can help preserve them.  Lowe is moving forward with the next phase of a project that started with King Tut. Members of his Factum Arte team are going to teach local workers in Luxor, the ancient capital, where the replica resides, how to do what they did—digitally document sites and then rematerialize them.

Two more are on the drawing board: Seti I, said to be the largest and most important tomb in the Valley, and Nefertari, said to be the most beautiful. Historically, tourism has been a big source of income and foreign currency for Egypt, but due to political chaos and explosions in Cairo, the numbers are way down.  It's a lot to ask of a replica to reinvigorate the market and eventually attract half a million visitors a year. But that's the sacred wish.

To See More Pictures For
King Seti I tomb
To See More Pictures For
Nefertari Queen
"The response locally has been very emotional," Lowe said. "The people realize this could be their future"—a source of jobs in the region for years to come—"and have taken it on board. It could become a whole industry!". He has a vision of tourists actually wanting to visit the workshops where the facsimiles are being made.  He sees the Tut data being used to monitor decay in the actual tomb. He sees scholars—or, especially, just anybody—diving into this digital world and finding themselves unexpectedly deepened, as human beings, and actually experiencing a personal link with antiquity. Read More......

Thursday, May 29, 2014

News: Chinese agree to dismantle fake replica Sphinx

China will demolish a life-size replica of the Sphinx in Hebei province after the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities filed a complaint with UNESCO, calling the structure a threat to its cultural heritage, Chinese state media reported.

Located at the foot of the Taihang Mountains in China, the Sphinx’s replica is about 80 meters (264 feet) long and 30 meters tall, is made of reinforced steel bars and a concrete body, unlike the Egyptian version of the Sphinx which is carved from one piece of limestone.

Minister of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim announced, earlier this month, that Egypt was filing a complaint with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) about the Chinese imitation of the unique antiquity.

According to China’s official Xinhua news agency, the replica is just a temporary film prop, and will be dismantled as soon as filming is done.

“We are very respectful to world cultural heritage and express our apologies for any misunderstanding,” said an official with a cultural park on the outskirts of the provincial capital Shijiazhuang, who declined to be named.

The film in question was supported by an entertainment conglomerate based in southern China’s Hangzhou. The conglomerate has invested CNY $5m to build the theme park near another tourist attraction, the Dragon Spring Temple. The movie features a range of worldwide cultural heritages, according to state-Run Al-Ahram.

Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities called on UNESCO to implement the convention it signed in 1972 concerning the protection of the world’s cultural and natural heritage. Ibrahim said he feared the replica would have a negative effect on the already struggling Egyptian tourism industry because it harms the country’s “cultural heritage”.

The 1972 UNESCO convention states that the right of identification, presentation and transmission of monuments to the future generation belongs only to the state that owns them. It emphasises the importance of safeguarding and protecting unique monuments, as they are considered irreplaceable property to the people.
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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

New Openings, Luxor: Restored tombs reopen in the West bank

The tombs of the wife of Ramses III and one of his top officials have been officially inaugurated after their restoration

In a bid to promote tourism to Egypt, which has declined since the 25 January Revolution, Minister of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim this week inaugurated two tombs in the Valley of the Queens and Deir Al-Medina on Luxor’s west bank.

The first tomb belongs to queen Tyti, wife of the Pharaoh Ramses III, and the second is that of Inerkhaou, a senior official during the New Kingdom reigns of Ramses III and IV.

Tomb of Queen Tyti, Valley of the Queens, West Bank of Luxor
The tomb of queen Tyti is located in the Valley of the Queens and is smaller than its counterparts from the later 20th Dynasty. When found, it was in a poor state of conservation, having been reused in antiquity.

The tomb consists of a corridor that ends with a burial chamber surrounded by side chambers. It is decorated with colourful paintings that follow the same decorative programme used in the tombs of the queen’s son Amenherkhepshef and Ramses II’s son Khaemwaset of painted scenes on white, grey or yellow backgrounds.

The walls of the corridor, burial chamber and side chambers are decorated with scenes depicting the queen worshipping deities protecting her or the canopic chests in the tomb. The most distinguished paintings are those on the front wall of one of the rear chambers featuring Tyti as a young girl with the braided hair of a teenager. On the left wall she is depicted as a middle-aged woman wearing more conservative dress and make-up.

“These kinds of representations are not common in ancient Egyptian art, and the contrast between the young girl and the older woman is striking,” Ibrahim said.

The ceiling of the burial chamber is painted with delicate white stars on a golden background, with the god Anubis depicted on the chamber’s front wall to protect the tomb. On the left side a lion-headed image of the god Nebnery stands in front of the queen, where there is also an image of the squatting youth Herimaat.

More About Valley of the Queens, West Bank of Luxor

Tomb of Inerkhaou, Deir Al-Medina, West Bank of Luxor
The tomb of Inerkhaou is located in Deir Al-Medina and is very well-preserved, containing painted scenes that have retained their original colours. The tomb is vast for an official, and it originally belonged to both Inerkhaou himself and family members.

Inerkhaou was in charge of the craftsmen who decorated tombs in the Valleys of the Kings and Queens. He has two tombs in Deir Al-Medina, indicating that he was a favourite of the pharaoh though not of aristocratic birth.

Tombs from the last period at Deir Al-Medina were rarely decorated, perhaps due to financial problems, a lack of qualified personnel or political unrest and an increase in poverty among the workers.

The period between the reigns of Ramses III and IV is known for its unrest and economic difficulties, and it was the first period in which workers went on strike due to non-payment of salaries. The government at the time seems to have been strangled by a lack of resources and corruption.

However, Inerkhaou’s skills made him a favourite of the pharaoh and ensured that he was able to build two tombs for himself in Deir Al-Medina. The first, the smaller one, was intended for himself alone, and this for the time being remains closed. The larger one, opened this week, was intended for his family.

The tomb is decorated with scenes depicting Inerkhaou with his wife Wabet, a singer to the god Amun, their children and deities. The most distinguished painting in the tomb is one dedicated to the cult of royal figures buried at Thebes. It depicts deceased pharaohs in the form of Osiris seated before Inerkhaou who is depicted as a priest.

The royal figures depicted include Ahmose-Nefertari and her son Amenhotep I, patrons of the craftsmen at Deir Al-Medina, followed by Ramses I and Montuhotep I.

The second chamber in the tomb contains exquisite decoration in three scenes that continue onto the arched roof of the chamber. They depict the funerary world as shown in the Book of the Dead.

Scenes of Inerkhaou paying homage to the gods are also found, as are scenes of daily life with his family. A collection of funerary objects has been found within the tomb as well as the remains of mummies.

Two stelae belonging to Inerkhaou are on display at the Museum of the Oriental Institute in Chicago and at the Louvre in Paris.

More About Deir Al-Medina, West Bank of Luxor
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News: Cloning the Sphinx in China

Early in the last week the Hebei province located at the foot of the Taihang Mountains in China attracted the world’s attention with an identical replica of the limestone Sphinx sitting by Khafre’s pyramid on the Giza plateau. The Chinese version, the centre of a new theme park, is carved in reinforced concrete but it has the same physical features and size of the original one. Even the broken nose, damaged 100 years ago, is imitated. 

According to a video published on the news web site Newsflare, the Chinese Sphinx took just two months of construction and is a new tourist attraction in China. It will also be used as part of a movie set. The project was supported by an entertainment conglomerate based in southern China’s Hangzhou, which invested five million Yuan to build the theme park near another tourist attraction, the Dragon Spring Temple. It also features a range of “world cultural heritage” and fake cityscapes for shooting movies. But can this replica of the Sphinx challenge the original? Does its construction mean that China is violating property rights?

The news has actually generated something of a commotion among Egyptians who see the Chinese Sphinx as a violation of world antiquities laws and UNESCO conventions. Minister of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim told Al-Ahram Weekly that the ministry has sent an official letter to Egypt’s permanent envoy at the UN Mohamed Sameh Amr objecting to the construction of the Chinese Sphinx, which he called a violation of Egypt’s rights to its cultural heritage and a bad imitation that disfigures the original.

In the letter, Ibrahim asked UNESCO to implement Paragraph 3 of Article 6 of UNESCO’s 1972 convention stipulating that “Each State Party to this Convention undertakes not to take any deliberate measures which might damage directly or indirectly the cultural and natural heritage referred to in Articles 1 and 2 situated on the territory of other States Parties to this Convention”.

“The ministry will address UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, to inform her that the reproduction of the Sphinx harms the cultural heritage of Egypt where the statue is registered on the World Heritage List,” Ibrahim asserted, adding that Egypt will also coordinate with the Foreign Ministry to address the Chinese Embassy in Cairo.

Archaeologist Mohsen Ali for his part says that what China has done is a violation of Article 39 of Egypt’s antiquities Law 117/1983 and its 2010 amendments which stipulate that the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) is the only authority with the right to produce replicas of Egypt’s monuments. Any replica of the Sphinx, he said, must hold the SCA stamp.

All Egyptian archaeologists have supported Ibrahim’s letter to UNESCO. Ayman Waziri, the deputy of the Egyptian Archaeologists Union, feels that no country should be allowed to interfere with the heritage of another country by replicating its monuments without permission.

He also asked the Minister of Antiquities to draft a law to protect Egypt’s intellectual rights to its antiquities. Waziri pointed out that there is the Luxor City in Las Vegas. Several ancient Egyptian artefacts were reproduced by several countries in China, Taiwan, Thailand, Hong-Kong and Japan.

Scholar Ahmed Amer, who describes the construction project of a fake Sphinx as a robbery of Egypt’s history and a violation of its cultural heritage, asked UNESCO, the Egyptian Embassy in China and the Egyptian government to interfere immediately and to take all legal measures to demolish the Sphinx replica.

Monday, May 26, 2014

News: Tracked Ancient Egyptian antiquities after illicit digs and smuggled abroad

Ministry of Antiquities managed to track 5 ancient Egyptian relics were smuggled from Egypt. The antiquities were a result of illicit digs in south Sakkara at the site of Tabit Al Geish (Tabit Al Geyoush) in 2002.

The minister said "Studying the objects we found that they are parts of the left corner and the entrance of the tomb of "Haw Nefer" who was a priest of the time of Pepi I of 6th Dynasty (Old Kingdom). The tomb was discovered by the French mission of IFAO on Sakkara in 2001."

The minister referred to the cooperation with IFAO to confirm that the antiquities were a result of illicit dig after the first season of excavation for the mission them were smuggled abroad.

The ministry found 3 of the 5 objects were bought by the museum of fine arts in the Hungarian capital, Budapest from an auction house which the auction house claimed they received in 1974.

The auction house claim is contracting the fact that there were no digs or excavation work in the site before year 2000 till the French mission started an organised excavation in 2001. The other two objects were found at an auction house in France.

Ali Ahmed, director of Repatriated Antiquities department, said "The 5 objects are a part of Priest “Hau-Nefer” tomb entrance. The ministry took the legal procedures to return the Egyptian antiquities."

Copyrights for Photos to Luxor Times Magazine

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Egypt's Presidential Elections 2014: Long Live E G Y P T

Egypt's Presidential Elections .. 

Egypt will hold a presidential election on 26 & 27 May 2014. Only two candidates were submitted to the Supreme Election Committee, which obviates the need for a runoff.

Upper Abdel El Fattah El Sisi (more by Wikipedia CLICK HERE)
Lower Hamdeen Sabahi (more by Wikipedia CLICK HERE)

Presidential elections were set after the 30 June 2013 Egyptian revolution, in which President Mohamed Morsi was overthrown, and following the January 2014 Egyptian constitutional referendum. The interim president Adly Mansour announced on 26 January 2014 that the presidential election will be held before the parliamentary election.

The term of the presidential winner will begin 5 June

BACK HOME: Artifacts Recovered from USA will be Home Next Month

A collection of illegally smuggled ancient Egyptian antiquities is to be returned to Egypt soon from the United States, reports for Al Ahram Weekly Nevine El-Aref, following the signature of an agreement with the New York customs authorities to free the collection of 103 ancient Egyptian artifacts in custody in the city since 2011.

Minister of antiquities Mohammed Ibrahim said the artifacts had been seized by US Homeland Security officials in New York after the American citizen who was traveling with the pieces was not able to prove legal possession. 

He added that because the artifacts belonged to different periods, they would likely have been stolen in the aftermath of the 25 January Revolution, when a lack of security overwhelmed the country leaving its heritage vulnerable to theft.

The objects include 99 coins from the Roman period, three Late Period limestone statues, a Middle Kingdom wooden boat and the upper part of a painted anthropoid wooden sarcophagus from the Third Intermediate Period depicting the face of a woman wearing a wig decorated with coloured flowers.

Two linen mummy wrappings covered with plaster and bearing paintings showing winged amulets pushing the sun disc are also among the returned artifacts. A hieroglyphic text bearing the name and titles of the deceased are on the plaster cover. A cartonage painted mummy mask from the Third Intermediate Period is also among the objects, which are due to arrive in Egypt early next month.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Political ِِِِِِِAnalysis: Egypt as you should see it ..............

Have you ever had the experience of walking out of a movie theater and feeling like you’re still in the movie?

If it was a comedy, you may experience the noisy commotion and cacophony of the street as if it were a slapstick scene. If the movie was romantic, you may carry out that warm, wistful feeling in your heart of lost love, and lingering affection for the lead character you grew attached to during the movie.

On the flight home from Egypt last week I watched the new Matt Damon sci fi thriller “Elysium” with all its wild explosions, chase scenes, fights and murders. And when I mistakenly knocked the toothpaste off the shelf in the restroom and it crashed on the counter I jolted as if someone had attacked me.

Such is the hypnotic power of cinema, the power of the screen to suck you into the world it creates. The same thing happens in a way with TV news. It has a way of shaping the way you experience things. In the age of 24-hour news channels, it’s possible to stay in that frame of mind for as much of the day as you might wish to. The trouble is, there is also a world outside the screen. And sometimes in an online world with “all news all the time” we forget to pay attention to the world beyond the screen.

One of the greatest things about travel is that it takes you away from the screen and immerses you in the real world, with real people. I’ve seen remote lodges that actually advertise the fact that they are off the grid as an attraction. It’s hard to break the spell of the screen unless you are forced off it.

As a reporter for TravelPulse, I cover Africa and the Middle East. Both of these regions are depicted so dismally on the news that it’s surprising any American ever goes there. The ones who do are probably not the ones who spend a great deal of their time watching the news.
I just returned from nine days in Egypt touring with Abercrombie & Kent’s President’s Tour and what I experienced there was so radically different from its portrayal in our news it’s hard to believe it’s the same place.

There is a huge cultural gap between the way many countries see themselves and the way they are portrayed on the American news. Much as we may wish to be objective, we see things through a lens that is culturally biased.

When I was in Egypt I talked to many Egyptians, highly intelligent and cultivated people, as well as some Americans who are intimate with the region, and I got a very different image of what is going on there than what one sees in our news media.

I spoke informally to Marc J. Sievers, the chargé d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, in effect the acting U.S. ambassador to Egypt, and he said that much of the western reporting on the region, while probably not dishonest as such, is presented through a lens that distorts it.
Sievers told the group of A&K guest travelers that he hoped they would go home and spread the word from their first-hand experiences that Egypt is a safe place to travel, and offers a wonderful experience that they should not hold back from because of fears of security.
This was the view of an American, but one who has spent the last 30 years as a career diplomat in the region and knows it intimately. He is not subjected to the same TV news that we see at home.

In speaking to many people in Egypt, including businessmen, politicians and Egyptologist tour guides I received a very coherent, consistent view of what has been going on in Egypt since January 2011 with the beginning of the Arab Spring and the Egyptian Revolution.
The stories and explanations I received from a range of people were consistent among each other, yet fundamentally different from what I see when I tune into practically any western report on the same events.

It’s shocking and disturbing that there can be such a dislocation between these alternate views of reality. It’s a challenging task, and I am not an international affairs expert, but I want to try to pass on what I learned from those conversations to my countrymen back home about the differences between those two alternate perceptions of reality.
The basic story line in the western media seems to be that there was a nasty military coup in Egypt that pushed out a democratically elected president and is now ruling the country as a dictatorship.

In Egypt they see it differently. According to the Egyptians I spoke to, it went something like this. The people of Egypt rose up against the dictator Hosni Mubarak, millions of them demonstrating in the streets, effectively bringing the country to a standstill until the military stepped in and broke the stalemate, in favor of the demonstrators.

It should be noted that the relationship between the military and the people of Egypt is very different from how we experience that relationship in the U.S. The country has conscription. Virtually everyone participates in the military. Practically every family has members who are in or have been in the military. Practically all of Egypt’s revered leaders historically have been military men. This is a relationship that eludes the understanding of the casual western observer.
Another major difference between Egypt and the U.S. is that Egypt has no democratic tradition or history. There have never been political parties and no political ground operations. Although the population has expressed its aspiration to become a democratic country, this political infrastructure is something that has yet to be built.

What the country does have is the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been around since the 1930s and does have ground operations. The organization, like Hamas in Palestine and Lebanon, has a close relationship to people in the towns and villages through having provided services to them that the government does not provide. So when the gauntlet was suddenly thrown open for democratic elections, the Brotherhood had a reach that no one else did, no one but the military.

In the first election there was a 46 percent turnout. The vote was split between five major candidates and some minor ones who split 2 percent of the vote. In spite of the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood was the only political organization with any reach in Egypt, Morsi only got about 30 percent of the vote. The way the system was set up, a runoff election was required if no one received a 51 percent majority.

So the runoff was set up between Morsi and Ahmed Shafik, the runner up. Shafik had two strikes against him from the outset because he had been Mubarak’s prime minister and the country had resoundingly rejected Mubarak. Morsi was declared the winner with 51.7 percent versus 48.3 percent for the Mubarak-stained candidate.

Long story short: in the view of the Egyptians I spoke to, Morsi slipped into power by a hair, and once he got into power, he went back on commitments he had made to govern in a moderate way and proceeded to rapidly dismantle the democratic mechanisms that allow opposition in a democratic society and to railroad Egypt into becoming a fundamentalist theocratic state.
Progressive women, who had been at the forefront of the revolution, were appalled when Morsi went so far as to try to legalize previously discarded archaic practices such as genital mutilation and marriage of girls as young as 9 years old.

The Egyptians I spoke to convinced me that Egypt is a modern, progressive country, and the majority were horrified by the possibility of being forced into primitive fundamentalist practices they had left behind long ago.  

The young people and the women who had demonstrated against the dictatorship of Mubarak had put themselves on the line for a more progressive society, more jobs, more economic opportunity, a more democratic say in the affairs of their country. What Morsi was giving them was the opposite. And he was dismantling the mechanisms through which they could express their opposition.

So they went out on the street to fight for their revolution again, and the way they saw it, they were fighting for their lives, or for their way of life.
Now they are bewildered that the west does not support them in their quest for a more democratic and progressive society. They reject the characterization of the second wave of their revolution as a military coup, and see it as, what former Senator Mona Makram-Ebeid called it, “a popular impeachment.”

Egyptians love and revere Americans, but are disappointed the Americans don’t seem to understand what is happening and are not supporting them in their revolution.
After deposing Morsi, the military did not establish a military government. Instead it moved toward the establishment of a new civilian government. Civilian leaders got together and re-wrote the constitution to correct the errors that would allow a religious fanatic to take power again and try to run the country as a religious state. They have taken precautions to keep religion and politics separate. They are on track for their presidential and parliamentary elections and will soon achieve at least the basis for the kind of progress they envisioned when the Arab Spring began.
And they want Americans to be with them.

Pharaons Rally – Egypt: Day 04, Dakhla Oases to Bahariya Oases

Pharaons Rally – Egypt
Day 04
Dakhla Oases to Bahariya Oases