Egypt's cabinet agreed in a meeting on Wednesday to contract the country's new sovereign wealth fund to develop the neglected area of Bab El-Azab near the Salaheddin Citadel in Old Cairo.
The fund will develop and operate the 56,000-square-metre area nearby the Citadel of Salaheddin under a 49-year concession. The area lies behind Bab El-Azab, one of the gates of the mediaeval Islamic-era citadel, which was built in 1754. The project is part of a broader plan to revamp the citadel area, home to a number of architectural buildings, as part of efforts to revive the historic Old Cairo to boost tourism.
The 200-billion-pound Egypt's Sovereign Wealth Fund was established in October 2019 with the of ensuring the best use of Egypt’s wealth and natural resources for the future generations, as well as to contribute to the national income.
The fund's board is headed by Planning Minister Hala El Saeed.
"The aim of the project is to revive the area so that visitors find fun and entertainment, by creating a multi-use cultural centre, representing Arab and African civilisations," the cabinet quoted Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Anany as saying.
The preliminary technical proposal includes using the area's historical buildings to house a museum, a spice market, a traditional food plaza, a crafts school and a crafts market, a hotel area, a centre for performances and events, shops and customer service offices and a traditional hammam (bath house), according to El-Anany.
The minister presented the current status of all buildings that are part of the plan of developing Salaheddin Citadel area, including the Nasser Mohamed bin Qalawun Mosque, the Suleiman Al-Khadim Mosque, the Royal Convoys Museum, the Military Museum in the Haram Palace, the Military School in the Red Palace, the Haddad, Romailah, and Mohamed Ali Towers, as well as Bab Al-Ezab district.
Built in 1176, the Salaheddin Citadel was the seat of government in Egypt and the residence of its rulers for nearly 700 years, from the 13th to the 19th centuries. It was further developed by subsequent Egyptian rulers.
The Bab El-Azab gate witnessed the massacre of the Mamelukes by Mohamed Ali Pasha in 1811.