Showing posts with label Islamic Cairo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Islamic Cairo. Show all posts

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Re-Opening, Cairo: Egyptian Monuments Reopen

Three Mameluke monuments in Islamic Cairo are to be reopened to the public after restoration. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref. 
Three Mameluke-period monuments, the Al-Muayyedi Bimaristan, the Tekkeyet Al-Bustami and the Darb Al-Laban Gate in Islamic Cairo are to be reopened to the public next week after restoration work.

A Bimaristan is a Mameluke hospital, while a tekkeya is a Sufi charitable building. The buildings have been shrouded in scaffolding for the past three years as restoration work continues, with it being slated to finally come off next week.

The monuments, like others in heavily populated areas, were suffering from environmental dangers, including air pollution, high subsoil water levels, high levels of humidity, water leakage, the effects of a decayed sewerage system installed 100 years ago, and the adverse effects of the 1992 earthquake that increased the number of cracks in their walls, leading in some cases to partial collapse. 

“One of the most serious causes of the damage to the buildings has been encroachment from the monuments’ neighbours who used the tekkeya for example as a residential building and the bimaristan as a garbage dump,” Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, director of the Historic Cairo Rehabilitation Project that supervised the work, told Al-Ahram Weekly.

He said the walls of the three monuments had cracked and partly collapsed, masonry was damaged, and the condition of the ceilings was critical. Decorations were heavily damaged and several parts were missing, while most of the flooring was broken.

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany said the restoration had been carried out according to the latest scientific methods. “Every effort was made to ensure that all the original architectural features were retained,” he said, adding that the restoration of the buildings had had important advantages in that individual monuments were being preserved for future generations and the entire neighbourhood was being revived and upgraded.

Abdel-Aziz said that the aim of the restoration was mainly to strengthen and consolidate the monuments and protect them from future damage. The walls were reinforced, cracks were treated, façades were consolidated, missing and decayed stones were replaced, and masonry was cleaned and desalinated. Tilted pillars and walls were readjusted to their original positions, broken woodwork was re-installed and missing parts were replaced with others of the same shape, size and material.

The ceilings were consolidated and insulated with special material to prevent the leakage of rainwater into the monuments. A special system was also designed to accumulate rainwater in one place and feed it into the main sewage system.

The areas surrounding the three monuments were cleaned, restored and upgraded in order to be venues hosting cultural events as well as for holding workshops to raise the cultural awareness of their inhabitants.


The Al-Muayyedi Bimaristan was built by one of the most important Circassian Mameluke sultans to rule Egypt, Al-Muayyad Sheikh Al-Mahmoudi, who reigned between 1418 and 1420 CE. The Bimaristan is the second public hospital still remaining from the period after that of the Mameluke sultan Qalawun built in 1284 in Al-Muizz Street in Islamic Cairo…. READ MORE.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

News, Cairo: Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities to Restore Islamic Cairo's Al-Sharaybi Bathhouse

Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities will restore the Al-Sharaybi bathhouse in Islamic Cairo in collaboration with the Egyptian Heritage Rescue Foundation. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, director-general of the Historic Cairo Rehabilitation Project, told Ahram Online that the restoration project is funded by a grant from the Prince Claus Foundation.

Abdel-Aziz explains that the restoration project will be executed in two phases. The first will include the removal of all dust and garbage accumulated around the site and the consolidation of the bathhouse walls from inside and outside as well as the oven area, while the second phase will include the restoration of the building and its decorative elements.

The Al-Sharaybi bathhouse was constructed during the rule of Sultan Qonsua El-Ghouri in 1500 AD and is located in the El-Ghouria area. The Moroccan trader Mohamed Dada Al-Sharaybi was the original owner of the bathhouse.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

New Discovery, Cairo: Restoration of Cairo's Al-Imam Al-Shafie Dome Leads to New Archaeological Discovery

Ongoing efforts to conserve the dome of the Al-Imam Al-Shafie mosque in Old Cairo have uncovered sections of an intact lower wall forming part of an earlier shrine this week. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

The previous shrine consisted of an open courtyard with three prayer niches attached to a domed hall. Also uncovered were decorated carved stucco features, coloured marble, stone flooring and fragments of a masonry dome.

Egypt's Minister of Antiquities Khaled el-Anany and the US Charge d’Affaires in Cairo Thomas H. Goldberger, along with top officials from the Egyptian ministry, embarked on Monday on a tour to inspect the latest conservation work on the dome and the excavations of the earlier shrine.

“This building pre-dates the current shrine of Al-Imam Al-Shafie, which was built by the Ayyubid Sultan Al-Kamil in the year 1211 AD and was built after Al-Imam Al-Shafie was buried there in 820 AD,” Mohamed Abdel Aziz, Director-General of Historic Cairo Rehabilitation Project told Ahram Online. 

He added that the newly uncovered shrine is a significant addition to our understanding of the history of Islamic architecture and history in Egypt.

May Al-Ebrashi, Head of Athar Lina initiative, said that the excavations are part of a conservation project funded by the US Department of State’s Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation under the supervision of the Ministry of Antiquities.

The excavations fall within the work of Athar Lina, a national initiative to conserve Egypt’s heritage for the benefit of the community.

The project, she continued, began in March 2016 to resolve structural problems in the mosque's masonry walls and floors, as well as leaking roofs and the disintegration of decorative elements, most notably the decorated stucco exterior, carved and painted wood and coloured marble cladding.

The completed work so far has included extensive documentation, as well as physical crack repair in masonry walls, soil infill to correct subsidence (the sinking of soil under a structure), repair and insulation of wooden roofs and ceilings, repair of marble cladding, and the cleaning and restoration of decorative stucco facets.

Al-Imam Muhammad Ibn Idris Al-Shafie was the founder of the Shafie madhab, one of the four major jurisprudential schools of Sunni Islam. A proponent of rational thought who is credited by some today as the originator of the scientific method, Al-Shafie dedicated his life to developing a comprehensive theory of jurisprudence that earned him the title the "Sea of Knowledge." He was also a great poet who wrote simply yet eloquently about the value of travel, learning and contemplation.

Historic sources mention that when he died, he was buried in the mausoleum of Ibn ‘Abd al-Hakam, an Arab tribe that came to Egypt with the Islamic conquest in the 7th century AD and settled there, becoming one of its most prominent families.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

News, Cairo: Historic Bab Al-Azab Site to Get Facelift From ARCE-Funded Restoration Project

The Ministry of Antiquities is to start a restoration and rehabilitation project for Bab Al-Azab area in Mediaeval Cairo, the scene of Mohamed Ali Pasha's infamous massacre of the Mameluks. Written By/Nevine El-Aref.

The Permanent Committee for Islamic and Coptic Antiquities has approved a project for the restoration of Bab Al-Azab, part of a Ministry of Antiquities plan to restore and develop a series of monuments in Historic Cairo.

Mohamed Abdel Aziz, director-general of the Historic Cairo Rehabilitation Project, said that the Bab Al-Azab restoration project is to be executed in three phases over a 10-month period, with a grant from the American Research Centre in Cairo (ARCE). He explained that the first phase aims to consolidate the monumental structures of Bab Al-Azab, as well as removing the debris and garbage that has accumulated in the vicinity.

The project will include minor restoration work on the two doors of the Bab Al-Azab, along with its woodwork and windows. The blocks of the walls will be maintained and consolidated in an attempt to prevent erosion prior to the start of comprehensive restoration work. The second phase, Abdel Aziz said, includes the full scientific documentation of every structure of the Bab Al-Azab, as well as preparing a plan for its restoration. Studies to rehabilitate the site and bring it back into use will also be provided. The third and final phase consists of workshops and seminars to prepare a plan for the preservation of the buildings. This will involve the establishment of a group of young archaeologists and architects, especially from the local community, to ensure the preservation, maintenance and rehabilitation of the area and its historic structures.

Bab Al-Azab is the gate that once protected the original entrance to the Citadel. It was rebuilt in 1754 by Abd el-Rahman Katkhuda, from which the brass-bound wooden doors date. The gate witnessed the massacre of the Mameluks conducted by Mohamed Ali Pasha in 1811.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

News, Cairo: World Heritage Committee Praises Efforts To Preserve Historic Cairo

The UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee (WHC) praised on Tuesday the progress achieved by Egypt in preserving Historic Cairo, and proposed recommendations for the preservation efforts. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

In its annual report on the Urban Regeneration of the Historic Cairo Project (URHC) published on Tuesday, the WHC praised "serious steps" taken by Egypt to develop the area and "preserve its architectural and urban heritage."

The WHC welcomed "steps that have been taken to start and plan a major [project to restore Historic Cairo] under the control of the Ministry of Antiquities and the scope of its urban, cultural, economic and social goals aimed at revitalising the old city structures, and a one-year work programme to undertake studies and define an overall master plan."

The WHC report praised the progress carried out by Egypt "in conformity with the recommendations of the committee... in terms of putting in place both short and long-term measures to address the urgent problems facing the urban fabric of the old city and its socio-economic structures."

The report also acknowledged efforts by Egyptian authorities to remove illegally erected structures in historic Cairo and raise awareness among local residents of the archaeological importance of the area.

The WHC also welcomed proposals to put in place a new management structure for the URHC, which would include the formation of a new body that could be instrumental in driving the URHC Project forward.

The committee recommended that Egypt give priority to the work of the URHC project "to achieve its goals and submit the draft master plan and establish benchmarks so that progress can be monitored and defined over time."

Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, general director of the URHC, told Ahram Online that the Ministry of Antiquities is scheduled to submit an update report on the state of conservation in Historic Cairo for review by the WHC at its 43rd session in 2019.

Abdel-Aziz also said that Egypt will invite a joint World Heritage Center and ICOMOS monitoring mission to view the progress on the project and the impact of recent administrative measures.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Recovered Artifacts, Cairo: Antiquities stolen from Egypt's Jani Bek Al-Ashrafi Mosque recovered

The pulpit whose decorative item was stolen
The two wooden decorative elements were stolen in 2014. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities has recovered two wooden decorative elements stolen in 2014 from the mosque of Jani Bek Al-Ashrafi on Al-Megharbeleen Street in Al-Darb Al-Ahmar area in Old Cairo.

Alsaeed Helmy, head of the Islamic and Coptic Antiquities Sector at the ministry explained that in cooperation with the Tourism and Antiquities Police, the stolen items were recovered and the thief caught red-handed. The items were confiscated until the completion of investigations.

Helmy said the two elements would be sent to the Islamic Museum for restoration and then returned to their original location in the mosque.

Sofia Abdelhady, general director of antiquities of Al-Darb Al-Ahmar and Alsayeda Aisha, told Ahram Online that the recovered elements are carved in wood with geometric shapes and embellished with ivory. One of these elements, she explained, was stolen from the mosque's mimbar (pulpit) and the second from its alkotbeya (wooden cupboard on the wall).

The Mosque of Jani Bek Al-Ashrafi dates back to 830 AH / 1426 AD and is a part of a complex founded in the Mameluke period, which consists of a mosque, a minaret, a dome, a school, and a sabil (water fountain). It was built by Prince Jani Bek Al-Ashrafy, who was the Circassian prince of Al-Tablakhana (military musicians) during the reign of Sultan Bersby.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

News, Cairo: Three Islamic Monuments Inaugurated in El-Moez Street

Three edifices from the Mameluke, Ottoman and Ayyubid eras were inaugurated Monday in Historic Cairo after intensive restoration. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany along with Cairo Governor Atef Abdel Hamid and other high-ranking government officials and foreign ambassadors flocked to El-Moez street in Medieval Cairo to inaugurate three Mameluke, Ayyubid and Ottoman edifices.

Before cutting the red ribbon, the dignitaries, along with Archbishop of St. Catherine's Monastery Demitry Demianos, stood for a moment of silence on the stairs of the Sabil-Kuttab of Mohamed Ali in memory of the Egyptian officers and soldiers who were killed in a terrorist attack on Friday in Rafah, North Sinai.

Other officials present included Local Development Minister Hesham Al-Sherif as well as the ministers of culture and religious endowments and directors of foreign archaeological institutes in Egypt.

The inauguration tour started by the Sabil-Kuttab (public water fountain and Quranic school) of Khesru Pasha before moving to the Qubbet (Dome) Nagm El-Din Ayyub and finally Mohib El-Din El-Tayeb Hall.

The Ceiling of Khesru Sabil Kuttab
"Restoring these three monuments was part of a national campaign launched by the Ministry of Antiquities in 2015 to restore 100 monuments in Historic Cairo," El-Enany told Ahram Online.

He added that the newly inaugurated edifices are the first batch of a restoration campaign that includes seven monuments. The four still being restored include Maqaad Mammay Al-Seify, Al-Salihiyya Madrassa (school) Saeed Al-Saadaa’ Khanqah and the Abul Dahab monumental complex.

The ministry has allocated EGP 9 million to restore these seven. Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, director-general of Historic Cairo Rehabilitation Project explains that the first three monuments were like other Islamic ones in heavily populated areas like Al-Moez street: suffering from ill use by area inhabitants, excess subterranean water leaking in, and cracked walls.

The Al-Tayyeb Hall
Now after two years of work, he said, the edifices have regained their original grandeur. The sabil-kuttab of Khesru Pasha is one of the most beautiful Ottoman sabils with a sabil on the first floor and the kuttab on the second.

Al-Sultan Al-Saleh Negm El-Din dome is a rare example of a significant period in Egyptian Islamic history, when the Mamelukes took the Egyptian throne from the Ayyubids. The dome, he explains, was built by Shagaret Al-Dor as a burial place for her husband Al-Sultan Negm Al-Din, the last Ayyubid ruler. It consists of a large hall with a wooden sarcophagus in the middle and two other halls holding a kuttab and a small mosque.

Sherif Fawzi, coordinator of the El-Moez street project, said that the Moheb Al-Din Abul-Tayyeb Hall was originally the reception hall of a palace built during the 14th Century. During the 1940s, the palace was severely damaged when work began on Beit Al-Qadi road. The hall was the only section left intact in the stunning palace.

Today, it is a vast square visitor hall with a large mashrabiya façade. A marble water tap decorates the center and overhead is a fine wooden ceiling ornamented with colourful foliage and geometrical drawings. To the left is a small passage leading to a bathroom with a vaulted ceiling.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

News, Cairo: Roof of Ottoman-Era Cairo Mosque Reinforced After Partial collapse - Ministry

Marzouk Al-Ahmady in Gamaliya district has been closed to worshippers because of the collapse. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
Ottoman-Era Cairo Mosque 
The Marzouk Al-Ahmady Mosque in the Al-Gamaliya district of medieval Cairo has been reinforced by the antiquities ministry after the collapse of part of the roof.

Mohamed Abdel-Latif, the deputy minister of antiquities, told Ahram Online that the partial collapse was due to the impact of erosion elements and heavy rain over a period of time.

An archaeological committee led by El-Saeed Helmy, the head of the Islamic and Coptic Antiquities Section at the ministry, has inspected the mosque and closed it to worshippers due to safety concerns.

Helmy said that there were plans to restore the mosque, which dates to the Ottoman era, but it has not yet been implemented due to lack of funds.

According to Article 30 in the antiquities law, he pointed out, the Ministry of Religious Endowments is required to fund the restoration.

The mosque contains the mausoleum of a clergyman from Yemen. It also boasts a distinguished minaret that combines Ottoman and Egyptian architectural styles.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

News: Al-Khalifa Heritage Project Resumes

The third phase of the Al-Khalifa Area Rehabilitation Project has resumed after securing the required funds, writes Nevine El-Aref.
 The Three Newly Restored Domes
The Al-Khalifa area of Cairo, known for its Islamic monuments, is again in the limelight as the third phase of its rehabilitation project is now set to begin after being put on hold owing to the lack of a budget. The project is being carried out by the Ministry of Antiquities in collaboration with the Cairo governorate, the built-environment collective Megawra, the Al-Athar Lina (the Monuments are Ours) initiative, and Mashroo Kheir.

Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, director of the Historic Cairo Rehabilitation Project, told Al-Ahram Weekly that the third phase included the implementation of a pilot project to integrate solutions for ground-water problems in historic contexts.

A multi-disciplinary research and training programme with the participation of an international team of architects, conservators, urban planners, and experts in urbanism, environment, infrastructure and water resources had begun this in 2016, he said. The programme was organised by Megawra and the universities of Oregon and Cornell in the US, with funding from the American Research Centre in Egypt (ARCE) and the American Embassy in Cairo in partnership with the Ministry of Antiquities and the Cairo governorate.

The team has studied the phenomenon of rising ground water in historic areas and its impact on historic buildings. It has also trained professionals and scholars in the field of heritage conservation on state-of-the-art techniques of the treatment of historic buildings that suffer from high amounts of salt and water damage.

The programme will follow this up by using technologies that can be implemented and that are suitable for the social particularity and economic conditions of the area, with the aim of transforming ground water from a source of harm to a social resource. The third phase, Abdel-Aziz said, includes the restoration of both the Al-Ashraf Khalil and Fatma Khatoun domes in Islamic Cairo.

 Th Al-Sayeda Rokaya Mausoleum 
The Fatma Khatoun Dome was originally a mausoleum and was once part of the Al-Madrasa Al-Khatouniya and the Madrasa Umm Al-Saleh. During the Ottoman period, it was used as a Sufi hostel. The madrasa (school) no longer exists. The dome is located on Al-Ashraf Street near the Al-Sayeda Nafisa Mausoleum. It was built by the Mameluke Sultan Al-Ashraf Salaheddin Khalil Ibn Qalawoun for his wife Khawand Khatoun. The mausoleum is composed of an inner square, a minaret and two rows of stalactites within an outer arch.

The Mausoleum of Al-Ashraf Khalil was founded in 687 AH (1288 CE) by Sultan Qalawoun. The lower part is built using stone-crowned stalactites, while the dome is made of brick.

The restoration project aims to preserve both domes from water damage by installing a new drainage system. It will also decrease the level of humidity, consolidate the walls, and repair cracks. The open area in front of the dome is to be converted into a public park, including an open-air theatre, cafeteria, library and a playing area for children. An administrative building is to be provided.

Abdel-Aziz said that the project was part of a long-term plan to develop the Al-Khalifa area, both archaeologically and in terms of urban planning, as a step towards upgrading... Read More.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

News, Cairo: Domes of Al-Ashraf Khalil and Fatma Khatoun in Al-Khalifa Area to be Restored

The Ministry of Antiquities starts conservation and development of both Al-Ashraf Khalil and Fatma Khatoun located on Al-Ashraaf Street in Historic Cairo. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Al-Ashraf Khalil Dome
Fatma Khatoun Dome was originally a mausoleum and once part of Al-Madrasa Al-Khatuniya and Madrasa Umm Al-Saleh. During the Ottoman period, it was used as a Sufi hostel. The madrasa (school) no longer exists.

It is located on Al-Ashraf Street near As-Sayyida Nafisa mausoleum. It was founded by Al-Sultan Qalawun for his wife Khawand Khatoun. The mausoleum is composed of an inner square, a minaret, and two rows of stalactites within an outer arch.

The mausoleum of Al-Ashraf Khalil was founded in 687 AH / 1288 AD by Al-Sultan Al-Ashraf Salah El-Din Khalil Ibn Qalawun. The lower part of the mausoleum is built with stone crowned stalactites, while the dome is built with brick.

Mohamed Abdel Aziz, director general of the Historic Cairo Rehabilitation Project, explained that the development project aims to preserve both domes from water damage by installing a new drainage system. It will also decrease the level of humidity, consolidate the walls and repair cracks.

The open area in front of the domes, he added, is to be converted into a public park, including an open-air theatre, cafeteria, a library and a playing area for children. An administrative building is to be provided.

Abdel Aziz pointed out that this project is part of a long term plan to develop Al-Khalifa area, both archaeologically and urbanely, in a step towards upgrading its residents’ living standards as well as promoting tourism.

The project is carried out in collaboration with Al-Athar Lina Initiative (The Antiquity Is For Us) and Built Environment Collective (Mogawra).

Thursday, April 27, 2017

News, Cairo: Monuments on Cairo's Al-Muizz Street Safe And Sound After Shop Fire

Investigations are currently underway to determine the cause of the blaze. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

The storied Islamic monuments surrounding Al-Muizz Street in Historic Cairo are safe and unaffected by a fire that broke out in a shop there on Wednesday, Head of Egypt's Islamic and Coptic Antiquities Sector Al-Saeed Helmi announced.

Helmi told Ahram Online that the shop that caught fire sits in front of private residential building number 88, which is not registered on Egypt's heritage list for Islamic monuments.

The nearest monument is Al-Ashraf Bersbay School, located 400 metres away, Helmi said. The school was untouched by the blaze and remains safe and sound.

The civil security authority extinguished the fire promptly after it started at dawn. Investigations are currently underway to determine the cause of the incident.

A committee from the Ministry of Antiquities is also on site to follow the investigation and monitor all monuments on the street.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Re-Opening Museum, Cairo: Egyptian Museum of Islamic Art Now Open in The Evening on Saturdays

Fountain on Display at The MIA
As part of an effort by the Ministry of Antiquities to increase historical awareness among Egyptians, the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) in Babul Khalq will be open for visitors on Saturdays till 9pm. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

Elham Salah, the head of the Museums Department at the ministry, said that in addition to its regular hours of 9am to 4pm, the museum will now also be open from 5pm to 9pm on Saturdays starting this week.

Salah added that this move aims at attracting more visitors as well as promoting museum tours in Egypt.

A cultural programme will be also held in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture at the MIA garden every Saturday evening to entertain museum visitors.

The MIA is the second museum to recently extend its visiting hours into the evening. The Egyptian Museum in Tahrir is now open on Sunday and Thursday from 5pm to 9pm.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Recover Artifacts: Egypt Recovers Objects Stolen From Al-Imam Al-Shafie Dome

A door and decorative elements stolen from the Sultan Al-Kamel Al-Ayyubi shrine inside Al-Imam Al-Shafie Dome have been recovered. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

The recovered door
Egypt's Tourism and Antiquities Police succeeded in recovering a door and decorative elements stolen early March from the Sultan Al-Kamel Al-Ayyubi shrine inside Cairo's Al-Imam Al-Shafie Dome.

The recovered artefacts includes of a 70-centimetre tall wooden door of the shrine as well as a number of tiny wooden decorative elements.

The Sultan Al-Kamel Al-Ayyubi shrine, located inside Al-Imam Al-Shafie Dome, was subject to looting when thieves got inside the shrine after cutting barbed wire that covered its window.

Head of the Department of Islamic and Coptic Antiquities at the Ministry of Antiquities, Al-Saeed Helmi, said that all the objects were recovered and the criminals caught. The objects are in a good state of conservation.

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany expressed his appreciation for the efforts of the Tourism and Antiquities Police in recovering the stolen objects. He highlighted strong cooperation between the ministries of antiquities and interior to "preserve and protect Egypt's cultural and archaeological heritage".


The recovered decorative elements
This is the second time in a month that the Tourism and Antiquities Police have managed to recover stolen antiquities. The first was when six lamps stolen from Al-Refai Mosque in the Citadel area were recovered.

Al-Imam Al-Shafie Dome is considered as one of the largest of its time, built in 1211 AD during the Ayyubid era to venerate Al-Imam Al-Shafie.

The dome has four shrines with wooden decorative structures: the first for Al-Imam Al-Shafie, the second for the mother of Al-Sultan Al-Kamel, the third for Sultan Al-Kamel, and the fourth for the family of Abdel Hakam, the family who hosted Al-Imam Al-Shafie.

Al-Imam El-Shafie was one of the four great imams whose legacy on juridical matters and teaching eventually led to the Shafie school of fiqh.

Monday, March 13, 2017

News, Cairo: Door and Decorative Elements of Sultan Al-Kamel Al-Ayyubi Shrine Stolen

The Sultan Al-Kamel Al-Ayyubi shrine is located within Al-Imam Al-Shafie Dome, one of the largest of the Ayyubid era. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
Part of the stolen door. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Antiquities
The Sultan Al-Kamel Al-Ayyubi shrine located inside Al-Imam Al-Shafie Dome was subject to looting today when thieves got inside the shrine after cutting barbed wire that covered its window. Head of the department of Islamic and Coptic antiquities at the Ministry of Antiquities, Al-Saeed Helmi. said that the 70-centimetre tall wooden door of the shrine has been stolen as well as a number of tiny wooden decorative elements.

Helmi told Ahram Online that a detailed report about the theft was sent to Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany who in turn sent the whole case to the prosecutor general for investigation. 

The Tourism and Antiquities Police was also called on site to inspect the shrine and collect any fingerprints that could be found in an attempt to trace the criminals. Al-Imam Al-Shafie Dome is considered as one of the largest of its time, built in 1211 AD during the Ayyubid era to venerate Al-Imam Al-Shafie.

The dome has four shrines with wooden decorative structures: the first for Al-Imam Al-Shafie, the second for the mother of Al-Sultan Al-Kamel, the third for Sultan Al-Kamel, and the fourth for the family of Abdel Hakam, the family who hosted Al-Imam Al-Shafie. Al-Imam El-Shafie was one of the four great imams whose legacy on juridical matters and teaching eventually led to the Shafie school of fiqh.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

News, Cairo: UNESCO Director General Visits Cairo's Newly Restored Museum of Islamic Art

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova visited the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) Tuesday evening, to tour the newly restored and re-opened facility. Ahram Online.

Accompanied by Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany, Bokova extended her 45-minute planned tour to 90 minutes to see the work which went into restoring the museum, which was badly damaged by a car bomb explosion in 2014 that targetted the adjacent Cairo Governorate Police Security Directorate.

El-Enany said that Bokova’s visit to Egypt and the MIA serves as a message to the world that it's time to visit Egypt, which he said has stood firm in the fight against terrorism. “The reopening of MIA embodies Egypt’s success in opposing terrorism and violence,” the minister said.

Bokova described the restoration work as “great” and said it "succeeded in returning the MIA to its original allure." “The work also shows dedicated international cooperation to rescue one of Egypt’s distinguished monuments,” Bokova added.

UNESCO, the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Switzerland as well as other international museums, institutes and NGOs contributed to the museum's restoration.

“The MIA is an emblem of Islam and its contributions to history, culture, science, art and medicine,” Bokova said. Bokova gifted the MIA library with a series of seven books about the history of Islam and its historical contributions. 

The series, published in English, was compiled by UNESCO over the last 40 years. Bokova and El-Enany are set to open Wednesday evening the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC).

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Re-Opening, Cairo: Cairo's Museum of Islamic Art to Open Friday After Two-Year Closure

The museum, badly damaged in a car bomb explosion in 2014, was inaugurated Wednesday by President Sisi and other top officials. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.
Qur'an - ink on parchment, Abbasid 9th century
Egypt's Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) in downtown Cairo's Bab El-Khalq area is set to open its doors to visitors Friday after two years of closure for restoration and repair.

On Wednesday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany inaugurated the museum, in a ceremony attended by other top officials. The museum will offer admission to visitors free of charge beginning Friday 20 January, and continuing through Saturday the 28th.

The MIA sustained severe damage in January 2014 when a car bomb exploded outside the adjacent Cairo Security Directorate building. The blast destroyed the façade of the building, several columns, display cases and artifacts, as well as the nearby Egyptian National Library and Archives building.

In 2015, nearly a year after the blast, Cairo received a grant of EGP 50 million from the United Arab Emirates to restore the museum, in collaboration with Egyptian and foreign experts from Italy, Germany and the United States.

wooden Islamic boxes and tables
The UNESCO donated $100,000 for the restoration of the museum’s laboratories, while the Italian government contributed €800,000 to purchase new display cases and provide training courses to the museum’s curators.

The American Research Centre in Cairo, in collaboration with the Swiss government, contributed EGP 1 million to restore the museum’s façade. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, as well as the Metropolitan Museums in New York, Germany and Austria assisted with trainings for the MIA's curators and restorers.

“The inauguration of the MIA embodies Egypt’s victory against terrorism, its capability and willingness to repair what terrorism has damaged, and to stand against terrorist attempts to destroy its heritage,” El-Enany said at the opening ceremony.

On Thursday, the museum will host a musical ceremony to celebrate the opening, and allow media in to photograph the new and restored exhibits. Elham Salah, head of the Museums Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, told Ahram Online that the façade, building and halls of the MIA have been restored with state-of-the-art security and lighting systems installed. Some aspects of the layout have changed, he added.

metal pots and pans
The souvenir hall, previously located in the centre of the museum has been moved to the end of the visitors’ path in the museum garden. A hall displaying Islamic coins and weapons has been added, along with a hall for Islamic manuscripts. One hall showcases the daily life of Egyptians throughout the Islamic age, including instruments and children’s toys.

MIA Director Ahmed El-Shoki said the artifacts which were "damaged in the explosion, and which have been restored, are integrated into the new displays, but distinguished by a golden label placed beside them.”

The blast damaged 179 pieces, 169 of which were completely restored while 10 pieces, all carved in glass, were found to be beyond repair. Among the most important artifacts lost were a rare decorated Ayyubid jar and an Omayyad plate carved in porcelain.


The MIA is home to an exceptional collection of rare woodwork and plaster artifacts, as well as Islamic era metal, ceramic, glass, textile and crystal pieces from all over the world. The museum is housed in a two-story building, with the first floor open to visitors displaying 4,400 artifacts in 25 galleries.

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