The archaeological area around the Pyramids of Giza is one of the most famous and most important historic sites in the world. It has a special place in the hearts of tourists and visitors of all nationalities.
Daily News Egypt toured the site and discovered the latest developments of the Ministry of Antiquities' plan to improve it and make visitors' time there more enjoyable.
The project includes the construction of a visitors centre, as well as second entrance to the site from Fayoum road, which will later become the main entrance, in order to prevent traffic and congestion on Al-Ahram road.
Director General of the Giza Plateau Ashraf Mohi said that the Ministry of Antiquities is preparing to finalise all works of the second (and last) phase of the development project, which will be opened before the end of the year. He added that 70% of the total work has already been completed.
The remaining 30% will be completed within the next few months. This includes finishing the administration building and the visitors centre, as well as completing the roads around the site and contracting with companies that supply electric cars.
The first phase of the project had already been completed before 2011, including the new ticket building and the construction of a new entrance on Fayoum road, in addition to fencing the site.
The final stage includes moving the main entrance—currently located next to Mena House Hotel—to Fayoum road.
The new entrance will feature a wide-space parking lot to accommodate tourist buses and visitors' cars. Visitors of the site will then be welcomed through the Visitors Centre, which will include stereographs of the pyramids and the monuments within the site, along with a map to the area. Moreover, the centre will have a theatre to play a short six-minute documentary introducing visitors to the site and its monuments.
Following the development, the site will offer electric cars to transport visitors around the shrines and monuments. The tour includes the three Great Pyramids, Khufu ship, and the Sphinx. The cars will then take visitors back to the parking lot.
The Ministry of Antiquities is considering a number of offers submitted by companies to secure the electric cars based on their efficiency and the cars' ability to withstand the terrain, Mohi said.
A special area will be designated for a promenade where horses and camels can be ridden. Bazaars and vendors will be moved to an area adjacent to the main entrance.
The Ministry of Antiquities plans to put forward a tender to rent out 50 bazaars that will be established before the end of this year in conjunction with the opening of the site.
Giza Plateau is currently inventorying a list of street vendors in the site to organise them. Mohi added that small kiosks will be built in the bazaar area for vendors to lease.
Further, there will be buildings for the Tourism Police, for ticketing with seven electronic gates, as well as a Civil Protection building with fire engines and ambulances, to ensure the protection and security of the site and people there. The development plan includes the establishment of four helipads.
Queen Service, one of the National Service Project organisations for the Ministry of Defence, will be tasked with overseeing the maintenance of the public restrooms on site, the number of which will also be increased prior to the opening.
According to Mohi, a company affiliated to the National Defence Council has been supervising the project since the beginning of negotiations with the contractor and will continue to do so until the project is handed over.
The total cost of the project stands at EGP 349m, of which EGP 200m has been spent already. The Ministry of Antiquities secured EGP 149m before 2011 to complete the first phase.
The Ministry of Tourism is to provide EGP 51m for the establishment of the administrative building, gates, Visitors Centre, and the Civil Protection building, as well as the promenade area and its services. This sum will also be used to fence the site and build the internal roads network and the parking space.
Both the ministries of antiquities and tourism have been coordinating to secure the remaining cost of the project amounting to EGP 150m.
The pyramids area development project began in 2009 and was scheduled to be completed by 2012; however, the financial bottleneck of the Ministry of Antiquities has put the project on hold over the past few years, Mohi explained.
The new administrative building will include an office ready to host the Ministry of Antiquities for three days a week to facilitate his overseeing the development project and the establishment of the Grand Egyptian Museum.
The final stage of the project includes the restoration of archaeological tombs and cemeteries and ancient buildings in the area.
The Arab Organisation for Industrialisation has surveyed the area for the installation of security cameras and maintenance of the existing surveillance system. It will also work to install solar-powered lights to illuminate the surrounding desert. Currently, there are 197 cameras on the site, of which 61 are offline.
The area is expected to attract more tourists after the development project is completed.
Chief Antiquities Inspector of the Giza Plateau Wael Fathi Morsi explained that the flow of tourists visiting Egypt is somewhat low, but is usually steady in the summer season due to domestic tourists and tourists from the region visiting.
The total number of visitors in July was 148,000, including 3,992 foreigners, 13,595 foreign students, 85,302 Egyptians, and 45,198 Egyptian students. The total revenue registered was EGP 3.2m, according to Morsi.
Ticket prices are EGP 5 for Egyptian students and EGP 10 for Egyptians. The pass for the Great Pyramid of Giza, and for the Pyramid of Khufu, is EGP 30 for Egyptians and EGP 20 for Egyptian students. The Pyramid of Menkaure is EGP 10 for Egyptians and EGP 5 for Egyptian students. There is also a EGP 10 ticket for Egyptians to enter the Tomb of Meresankh, which is EGP 5 for Egyptian students.
As for foreigners, the main ticket is EGP 20 for non-students and EGP 40 for students. The ticket for entering the Great Pyramid is EGP 200 for non-students and EGP 100 for students. The third pyramid ticket is EGP 40 for non-students and EGP 20 for students. The Tomb of Meresankh costs EGP 50 for non-students and EGP 25 for foreign students.