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Egypt hopes unique antiquities will help with declining tourism revenue

Jul 23, 2016

CAIRO, Egypt - "The exhibition is incredibly successful with high turnout, and we study holding it in different museums inside and outside Egypt," said Dorwis Hana, head of Center for the Revival of Ancient Egyptian Art.

In a bid to stimulate the declining tourism revenue, Antiquities Minister Khaled el Anany inaugurated on Thursday the first exhibition of replicas of artifacts at the Egyptian Museum in the Cairo's Tahrir Square.

"The goal of the exhibition is to create alternative financial resources to ease the tourism sector's poor revenue," Hana said.

Egypt's tourism industry, a cornerstone of the economy and critical source of hard currency, has been struggling to rebound after a political and economic upheaval triggered by the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.

Egypt netted just 6.1 billion dollars in tourism revenues in 2015, a drastic downturn from 12.5 billion in 2010, according to the country's Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.

The gift shop at the museum selling replicas of original monuments was reopened after more than four years of closure, said Hana.

"The exhibition and the gift shop will help raise people's awareness about Egyptian archeology and the unique antiquities displayed in different museums across the country," she added.

"I bought two papyrus pictures and five accessories as souvenirs for my relatives with only 300 dollars in total," said Jessica Holand, a British tourist.

It is pretty good to buy high copies with low prices from a licensed place, she told Xinhua, adding the exhibition protects the tourists from greedy sellers.

"Now I can choose the pieces I prefer after spending good times in the museum," added the visitor.

The exhibition includes replicas of artifacts that were reproduced by the Center for the Revival of Ancient Egyptian Art affiliated with the Antiquities Ministry as well as archaeological books printed by the ministry.

From July 14 to 29, the ministry offers a discount of 20 percent on replicas of artifacts, 75 percent on the books printed before 2011 and 20 percent on books printed after 2011.

In the exhibition, the prices of the high-copy replicas range from 10 Egyptian pounds (about 1 U.S. dollar) for a geotrupidae to 180,000 pounds (about 20,000 U.S. dollars) for some status.

"Despite the relatively high prices of the replicas, still they look almost the same like the original ones," said Mahmoud Badran, a man in his 50s staring at a small wooden statue of ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti.

The people were more crowded near the books with big discounts.

"The turnout for the books is highly unexpected," said Sadyah Abdel Raziq, head of the Commercial Department at the Antiquities Ministry.

"Good prices and a variety of old and rare books attract many people," Abdel Raziq said.

The exhibition displays more than 3,000 books in different fields, and every day the museum has new series of books, she pointed out.

Books titled "History of Ancient Egypt" and "Egyptian Civilization" are the best sales in the exhibition, she added.

"I bought 50 well-printed books," said Ahmad Ismael, 42 years old.

Ismael said the exhibition is a golden opportunity to find such treasure of old and valuable books on Egypt art pieces with very low prices. "Many rare books are available and the exhibition is well organized," he added.

Dina Karim, a female student at the department of history in Cairo University, echoed Ismael by saying that she found four very important books on ancient Egyptian queens for only 20 pounds (about two U.S. dollars) each.

"It is not only about low prices, but the content of the books is the most attractive factor in this exhibition," she added.

Karim said she thinks it is a very good project to encourage people to read their history, and she hopes that the exhibition will tour other museums in the Egyptian provinces.

She ended up buying 24 books here, most of which were about Tutankkamun and the secrets of his tomb and were expensive to buy at bookstores.

Egypt hopes unique antiquities will help with declining tourism revenue

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