During a press conference held Wednesday evening at the site of the planned Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), Minister of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim launched a fundraising campaign to help in the construction of the museum, planned to be completed in 2015.
The campaign is launched within the framework of a collaboration protocol signed between the Ministry of Tourism and the Chamber of Tourism Establishments, on the one side, and the Ministry of Antiquities on the other.
According to the protocol, said Ibrahim, the Ministry of Antiquities is to collect a $1 fee on every night a tourist spends in any hotel in Egypt.
"This dollar is an optional fee,” asserted Ibrahim, adding that it would be paid if the tourist agrees to help in the construction of the GEM, aimed to be one of the world’s great heritage landmarks.
In parallel, archaeologist Bassam El-Shamaa launched a local fundraising campaign to support the construction of the GEM through asking all Egyptians to pay LE2 each.
“This will not only help in the construction of the GEM, but also increase the awareness of Egyptians towards their cultural heritage,” El-Shamaa pointed out.
El-Shamaa told Ahram Online that in collaboration with officials in the government and the Ministry of Antiquities, a safe and regulated method will be provided in order to collect the money legally.
El-Shamaa promised that every donor would be given a ticket for free entry to the GEM for 10 days.
The museum complex will centre on the Dunnal Eye, an area containing the main exhibition spaces. From this central hub a network of streets, piazzas and bridges will link the museum's many sections. The design is by Shih-Fu Peng of the Dublin firm Heneghan, winners of an international architectural competition held in 2003 to furnish designs for the GEM.
The first and second phases of the GEM were completed three years ago. They consisted of the construction of a power plant, fire station, fully equipped conservation centre with 12 laboratories for restoring, scanning and studying mummies as well as artefacts made of pottery, wood, textiles and glass. It incorporates a documentation unit charged with creating a computerised database of all artefacts. Four storage galleries were also built.
The GEM project is 65 per cent funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is providing a $300-million soft loan to be repaid over 30 years at an interest rate of 1.5 per cent. Payments will be made in instalments after a 10-year grace period following the GEM's official inauguration. Another $27 million was donated by businessmen, while the Ministry of Culture of the former regime provided $150 million.
A joint venture between Hill International and EHAF Consulting Engineers will provide project management services during the design and construction phases of the project.