New home for old treasures: Egypt’s relics moved to new Cairo museum

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If the headlines from Syria are dominated by the wanton destruction of irreplaceable archaeological treasures, this is not the whole story of the region’s heritage.

The other side of the coin is here, in the state-of-the-art conservation centre at Cairo’s new Grand Egyptian Museum.

In its own way, the museum is a project to rival the Pyramids of Giza, in whose shadow it stands.

The conservation centre is expected to be the biggest of its kind in the Middle East, with state-of-the-art laboratories and experts trained in the restoration and conservation of important relics such as wood carvings, stone statues and mummies.

It has been established with technical assistance and training from Japan, with the museum authorities announcing last week that it will run independently of the Egyptian government, with its own board of trustees and international directors.

Costing an estimated US$500 million (Dh1.83 billion), the museum’s foundation stone was laid by the former president, Hosni Mubarak, in January 2002.

Delays caused by funding issues and Egypt’s political turmoil mean that the museum will not open its first galleries to the public until 2018, when it is hoped it will drive a revival of the country’s tourist industry.

In the meantime, the centre is the first part of the project to be operational, ensuring that when the museum does open, visitors will see the treasures from Egypt’s past as never before.