A Sneak Peek.
Dear Advisor Partners,
When it comes to Egypt, one of the most frequent questions we receive is when will the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) open? Well, everything is a good guess at this stage, and anyone providing a hard opening date is also sharing an estimate. The commercial or common area of the GEM has been open, and Big Five includes that visit in every adventure to Egypt with a fee for special access inside one of the halls while work at the GEM is completed. We are getting inside information all the time on the status of the GEM and have been really good at sharing updates on the opening only when we have credible information. However, one thing was still missing. How does a visit to the GEM make you feel? Well, we got our answer this week when Big Five Egypt team member, Nour Abouseif, visited the museum on a weekend when locals were invited to visit the GEM on a guided tour of the open areas. We made a video of Nour’s visit and shared her thoughts below. Before we jump in, there are a few things to remember. The Grand Egyptian Museum is the largest museum in the world, built on 117 acres, and will include a movie theater and a children’s museum with 3D capability when fully complete. There will be over 60,000 artifacts in this museum at any given point. Noting those facts helps me realize why the GEM is taking so long to complete.
Our journey with Nour starts with the approach to the GEM. It is here that you fully realize how large the structure is. Now, I’ve seen this structure when visiting the pyramids however, seeing it from Nour’s perspective was really special. Nour was transmitting her notes to me live as she walked through the museum, and you could feel her excitement through her words.
1:58 pm – The excitement builds. This is the road leading up. I’m about to enter.
2:01 pm – The tour is about to begin. This is the largest museum in the world. There will be a few hotels here, and eventually, you will even be able to walk to the pyramids.
2:07 pm – Nobody, I mean NOBODY knows when the museum will officially open in full. It feels close though.
2:17 pm – The Hanging Obelisk is the only one of its kind in the world, though it is one of the smallest in Egypt, weighing 60 tons. It belonged to Ramses II, known as, the greatest and the saddest king. Part of the obelisk is cut into two pieces. Ramses wrote his name on the base so that no one ever removed it. The black base at the bottom highlights that.
2:18 pm – the museum is built on two axis points horizontally. Based on the great Khufu and Menkaura, built on an amazing design where you feel the humidity as soon as you enter. There is an open ceiling that allows sunlight in.
2:20 pm – The feeling as soon as you enter is one of awe. Ramses welcomes you as soon as you enter. Best. Welcome. Ever.
2:34 pm – This is the first piece to have arrived here at the GEM.
7:35 pm – Ramses II is not only the greatest king but not a single city is free of his name. He left his mark everywhere. He is the saddest king at the same time because he buried 50 of his children when he was alive.
7:38 pm – Nefertari says hi! When you come here, check her hand. She supports Ramses. We have an Egyptian proverb that says “انا بسندك” which translates to I’ve got your back.
7:41 pm – I’m thinking of becoming an Egyptologist after this tour! What an amazing world of knowledge and art.
7:44 pm – There are foreigners here visiting the common areas.
7:46 pm – Do you see the signs of the duck? It means son or daughter. Why? Here in Egypt whenever a baby arrives, we refer to him as “بطوط” which means duck. This just shows you how amazing our culture is. It transcends time, even when we don’t notice. Many of our common practices date back to 7,000 years ago, if not more.
7:48 pm – I found Maat! She is the founder of mathematics and she is the God of justice. I found it on the back of the statue of Ramses II. She is holding the key of life. Ramses loved Maat as she was full of life. She is depicted as the beginning of life. You even see the womb.
2:52 pm – The 4 halls are here but are closed. When they open, however, hall number one is for the statues of the forgotten kings, and hall number two is for large events.
2:54 pm – So much thought went into this design. On October 22, there is a small open part of the window that will let sunlight in through just the right angle that it will hit the column and shine a light on Ramses II.
2:59 pm – The reason for the inclined floor you see is because this is how Egypt is built, on an uphill. Even the church is an uphill. The tombs are also an uphill, because the holiest part is the closest to the sky. More stairs! They symbolize the stairs of life. As you walk up, you reduce the number of days in your life and become closer to the sky.
3:02 pm – The King Tut area! The excitement if wanting to see it is… agggghhhhh!!!! Tons and tons of gold were found in his tomb. The King Tut mask is still at the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities
3:04 pm – There is still some construction. I can’t see a lot of it but I hear it.
3:10 pm – Did you know all statues, the left feet are aways at the front.
3:15 pm – I found Horus! Cats were glorified because they symbolize motherhood. This shows that females in ancient Egypt. It’s just great seeing all this history!
3:20 pm – one more thing which was amazing to learn. What is referred to as khartoush is known as shen and what is written inside is referred to as renn, this was only for the kings. We have another Egyptian proverb which states, “لو شن و رن” علي in francoarabe “lee shana w rana” which means has a great position. So again another thing that showcases how culture can never be changed, it just evolves.
3:43 pm – All this and we didn’t even see 1/100 of what will be available! I’m on my way out. Wow!
We can’t wait for the Grand Egyptian Museum to fully open. We know it will be historic and our best guess is that this may happen in the next few months. In the meantime enjoy the video of Nour’s visit. While nobody knows the actual opening date of the GEM, you can see the impact of even visiting the commercial area is in some ways even more powerful than the actual opening. What impact will a visit have on you?