CAIRO: Egypt’s Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Anany met Japanese Ambassador Masaki Noke in Cairo to discuss ongoing preparations to inaugurate the Grand Egyptian Museum.
Its construction, which began in 2006, is almost complete, and it is scheduled to open in the last quarter of 2020.
The meeting included Noke’s accompanying delegation from his country’s embassy and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
They discussed the possibility of the Japanese providing technical assistance to operate the museum after its inauguration, as part of a partnership that involved two loans worth a total of $740 million. If the current negotiations succeed, the loans from Japan to Egypt would total $1.5 billion.
The museum, a national megaproject, was due to be inaugurated in 2015, but nationwide protests and a drop in tourism caused delays. As a result, Egypt was forced to borrow from Japan to complete construction.
More than 48,000 artifacts have been moved to the museum. Japan is taking part in restoring monuments, and is providing state-of-the-art technology in the museum’s displays.
Archaeologist Ahmed Nabih said Japanese efforts in establishing the museum “accelerated the process of its construction.”
Nabih, who visited the museum, said it is a “great place” that will attract tourists from all over the world.
But economic affairs journalist Amira Gad said the new loans might further burden the state and increase its foreign debt, which has exceeded $1 trillion.
Still, Gad expressed confidence that the museum’s revenue will cover its costs and perhaps even make it profitable.