Long awaited 'Bab Al-Azab' development project to see light of day

Nevine El-Aref , Tuesday 2 Jun 2020

Contract Signing
Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mustafa Waziri and Chief Executive Officer of the Sovereign Fund of Egypt Ayman Soliman sign the contract in the presence of Minister of Planning Hala El-Saaid and Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled El-Anany.

The Supreme Council of Antiquities and the Sovereign Fund of Egypt signed on Tuesday a contract to develop and manage the provision of services to visitors of the Bab Al-Azab area of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi’s historic Citadel.

The Council will solely manage the historic site while the Fund will manage the operations and services in the Bab Al-Azab site, which reflects the new collaboration between the two parties to revive the area and increase its historical and economic value.

The contract was signed by Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mustafa Waziri and CEO of the Sovereign Fund of Egypt Ayman Soliman. The signing was attended by Minister of Planning and Economic Development Hala Al-Said, the chairman of the board of the Sovereign Fund of Egypt, and Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled Al-Anani.

This contract is part of efforts to renovate historical Cairo, reflecting the government’s focus on improving the quality of services to visitors at the Citadel, one of the most important historical sites in Egypt. Negotiations between the Fund and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities took a little over six months after the collaboration between the Fund and the Council was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.

This step is considered the first investment project by the Fund in the tourism and services sectors, in cooperation with the ministry, which will include the complete development of the Bab Al-Azab area in the Citadel to provide services to its visitors.

Opening an unutilised area of the Citadel to the public after reviving it will place it on the list of historical and cultural tourist attractions and provide cultural services to the area, in addition to establishing and operating traditional markets and handicraft shops, theatres and cultural events.

Minister Al-Said said that this agreement reflects the Fund’s role in increasing returns on state owned assets through value accretive investments to better utilise Egypt’s resources for future generations.

The minister added that it is important for the Sovereign Fund to contribute to developing historical areas to introduce new generations to Egypt's history and generate positive returns on state assets through creative projects.

The minister noted that the objective of the Fund is to attract investors to contribute technically and financially in such projects to increase state revenues and create employment opportunities in sectors with high potential.

Tourism Minister Al-Anani said that this collaboration directs more investments to touristic development, as “we are working to develop a model for investment projects to provide and operate attractive and efficient services to visitors in major touristic destinations.”

It also confirms the success of the ministry’s vision in developing and operating services in historical sites, enhancing their cultural value and diversifying Egyptian touristic products while adding new cultural tourism destinations, the minister added.

Mustafa Waziri, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that the Council seeks to re-utilise, preserve and develop some historical areas in a sustainable manner, as well as provide services to the visitors of these areas to enrich the cultural experience of the Citadel.

Waziri emphasised that the rehabilitation of the historic buildings after their restoration is one of the most important methods of preserving them, which works to raise their efficiency and cultural and economic value, promoting the area as a new touristic and cultural destination.

Ayman Soliman, the CEO of the Sovereign Fund, said, “The fund will team up with experienced private investors to develop the Bab Al-Azab site. We will equip the buildings in the area to offer visitors and tourists a rich cultural experience that accentuates the Citadel’s historical value and highlights the pivotal events it witnessed and its role in Egypt’s modern history. It is essential that the private sector plays an integral role in adding economic and cultural value to the historical tourism sector.”

The Fund aims to boost sustainable economic development in Egypt through attracting private investments to develop state assets, in accordance with best international practices, to optimise their returns and maximise their long-term value for future generations.

Soliman added that the Bab Al-Azab area will include a museum with interactive technologies, a market for spices, traditional crafts and foods, a design school, a theatre for traditional and cultural arts, as well as a historical library.

“The importance of this project is that we are utilising an undeveloped closed part of the Citadel which will positively impact the entire area in historic Cairo, creating jobs and value in the tourism sector with private partners, and adding new investment products in the Egyptian economy.”

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