The Egyptian antiquities ministry has rejected a proposal by the finance ministry to rent out the country's major archaeological sites to international tourism companies in an attempt to reduce the government's budget deficit.
Some archaeologists have called the proposal 'insulting' and 'humiliating.'
"How can we rent out our heritage?" Ahmed Saeed, professor of Egyptology at Cairo University, wrote on his Facebook page, alongside a cartoon of the Sphinx crying.
"Cry dear Sphinx, people want to rent you out and maybe later cut you into pieces and sell you! Shame on those who want to rent you. You are the symbol of dignity, power and Egypt’s ancient civilization," he added.
Hatem Sewelam, professor of archaeology at Cairo University, said the proposal was a "rumour created by the media."
Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Adel Abdel-Sattar told Ahram Online that Abdullah Mohamed Mahfouz of Al-Ketab Al-Mostanir website, had sent a proposal to the finance ministry in early February suggesting the government rent out five well-know historical sites – the Giza Pyramids, the Sphinx, Karnak Temples in Luxor, and the twin Ramses II Temples in Abu Simbel – to international tourism companies for five years at an annual fee of LE200 billion.
When the antiquities ministry was consulted it rejected the proposal, stating Egypt’s heritage was public property and could not be leased or sold under the antiquities law, Abdel-Sattar added.