Beaches, islands & mountains is the combination you expect when booking your holiday to Hurghada. Enjoying the Egyptian Red Sea coast under the bright sunlight and the Bedouin hospitality in the desert. Now, that is not only what the Red Sea families & tourists can enjoy, as the brand new Hurghada national museum opened last week.
Not only is that a huge step forward for the city’s cultural arena, but it is a tourism boost as well. Hurghada National Museum is the 1st Public-Private Partnership one of its kind in Egypt, making it a national novelty and an experience to dive into.
While we take you around the museum through our lens, we present an interview with KHALED MAHFOUZ. Mahfouz is Al Tahrir Real Estate Chairman, a development company based in Hurghada. It is also the Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities’ Private Partner. As the initiator of this project, he had loads of enthusiasm to realize the museum in cooperation with the Ministry.
HURGHADA NATIONAL MUSEUM IDEATION
Nada Abdrabou: Where did the museum idea come from? & Why Hurghada?
Khaled Mahfouz: The project started as an idea before the realization in practice. When President Abdelfatah El Sisi offered the public & private sector collaboration, we were encouraged to establish a museum in Hurghada. After some bumps along the way, we reached Dr. Khaled El-Enany Minister of Tourism & Antiquities. He was very interested in the idea and encouraged it till it saw the light of day.
NA: How did the Public-Private Partnership come together?
KM: We first agreed with the Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities to establish this museum in Hurghada. Then we started with the formal procedures. Those include the project implementation & management protocol & contract, in addition to finances. As the developer, I build the shell where the ministry displays their antiquities, & have control over them”
NA: In this case, who manages the museum?
KM: The Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities is managing the museum. Securing it is the Tourism & Antiquities Police responsibility, in cooperation with the National security. Inside the museum, antiquities experts manage the exhibits, while the museum income gets into the country’s state treasury.
Overall, Mahfouz & his team got this project done in about 18 months; due to their high thrive in making it happen.
NA: How did the implementation take place?
KM: Our development company: Al Tahrir Real Estate managed the museum’s implementation. We have our own specialized engineers and design office. As for construction, we relied on a set of different contractors for each section, to ensure higher quality. While we took into consideration museums’ design requirements and construction codes.
CONCEPT & JOURNEY
NA: What was the museum exhibition concept?
KM: Hurghada National Museum’s concept is: Beauty & Luxury through the ages.
NA: How did the antiquities collection serve the museum’s concept & journey?
KM: The Ministry chose and displayed the antiquities according to the museum’s Beauty & Luxury concept. It features ‘Merit Amun’, Ramses II daughter as the museum’s highlight. While our work follows the Ministry’s Scenario & Museum Display committee in designing its journey.
As shown through the museum and according to Mahfouz elaboration, the museum’s journey compliments its concept. It starts with visions of beauty icons, and transitions to perfumes and makeup.
It also displays family unity and the structure of Egyptian civilization, conveyed through sculpture work. Amarna Pottery and Musical exhibits comes next on this historical ride, addressing different senses of beauty.
The museum’s masterpiece Merit Amun bust is the highlight of this journey, followed by the household, its furniture, vessels and pottery.
Then hunting & fishing exhibits show along Jewelry sets of multiple Egyptian eras. Then Greco-Roman sports’ sets and stories are on display.
Next collection presents funerary art, displaying the soul’s journey. It highlights the mummy’s beautification types & standards based on age groups and societal positions.
The museum then displays the art in Greco-Roman, Coptic, Jewish & Islamic eras. Then you reach the underwater artifacts found in Saadan Island. Finally, the Khedive jewelry collection ends the museum’s journey.
Khaled Mahfouz explained the exclusivity in hosting Mohamad Ali’s family jewelry “Hurghada National Museum features a collection of Mohamad Ali’s family jewelry. This collection was not displayed anywhere before, as it was saved in the Central Bank of Egypt. It ends this journey with Egypt’s modern history artifacts”
Antiquities experts accompany visitors through this journey from start to finish. They are available to assist intrigued visitors, and encourage them to follow this beautified story along those exhibits.
NA: What does the project consist of?
KM: We provide a Parking lot once you arrive, then you reach the reception where you can find multilingual assistance. We also provided a food court, a Roman theatre and a kids’ area within the outdoor landscape. In this sense, we wanted the museum visit to be an entertaining experience for the whole family.
Elaborating on the project sections connectivity, he added, “This outdoor entertainment zone is the approach that leads you to the museum’s main building. There you find another reception offering electronic guides, brochures, an ATM and shopping areas. To reach the exhibition hall on the first floor, you go through all those facilities on the ground floor. You also pass by them when you’re journey has ended”
BUDGET & FINANCES
Since this project consists of multiple contents, it spreads over 12,000 m2, which brought on the budget discussion to realize the museum’s establishment magnitude. Hurghada’s National Museum establishment cost around 200 Million EGP as Mahfouz informed us.
NA: How did you manage this budget through this Public-Private Partnership?
KM: The Ministry’s partnership includes the antiquities provision; they are not taking part in financing the project. I financed the project, and my company took responsibility for it. In return, we acquire a 50% share in the incoming profits after it enters the state treasury.
OPENING & UPCOMING DEVELOPMENTS
The Egyptian Prime Minister Dr. Moustafa Madbouly opened Hurghada National Museum on Saturday 29th February 2020. In his company was Dr. Khaled Anany the Minister of Tourism & Antiquities, and the Red Sea Governor Major General Amr Hanafy.
NA: Finally, will the museum host events in the near future?
KM: We contacted the Minister of Culture Dr. Enas Abdeldayem to offer to revive the International Folklore Festival. It used to take place in Ismailia before the January revolution, and we want to revive it again in Hurghada. Folklore reflects culture as much as antiquities, whether it was heritage or history.
Mr. Khaled Mahfouz eventually presented Linesmag with an exclusive copy of the Hurghada National Museum’s booklet. Zahi Hawas, the internationally renowned Archeologist & Egyptologist wrote this booklet. This is a sneak peek into it, and you can get your own copy in the museum very soon.