Archaeology Halts Cairo Business Construction
CAIRO (Albawaba) - Contractors working on a multi-story parking complex were forced to stop work after they found part of a medieval wall and an adjoining sentry tower in Cairo's Old City.
The parking complex was intended for tourists coming to the area surrounding the medieval university of Al Azhar. Known as Islamic Cairo, the area is currently being refurbished in an effort to attract visitors.
The archaeological find highlights a long running dispute between officials at the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) and other groups over which is the priority - archaeology or development. Sayed El-Kassabi, a SCA consultant, told the government-run Al Ahram weekly that SCA does not object to development projects, but "since we are dealing with an extremely sensitive area in the heart of this city, preliminary checks are urgently needed." Madgi Suleiman, director of the Al Azhar archaeological area, told Al Ahram that work at the site should be stopped. Officials from the government-owned Arab Contractors, who are constructing the parking area, said they were not harming the site. However, the company has had a mixed record on antiquities. Tourism is a major source of revenue in Egypt, but the country has difficulty meeting the demands of tourism while preserving the country's rich historical legacy. To strike a balance, an Egyptian private tourism company joined forces last week with a US non-profit organization.
Abercrombie & Kent, the luxury travel group, and the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE), announced a sponsorship agreement for visiting scholars. The scholars would take part in the restoration of Egypt's monuments. Amr Badri, Abercrombie & Kent managing director in Egypt, said that sponsorship was a way for the company to "give something back, having gained so much from Egypt's history." Project organizers hope the alliance would help Egypt out of its current dilemma.
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