CAIRO: The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities is converting Wakala Al-Sultan Qaytbay in Cairo into a private hotel.
This project is the first of its kind in Egypt. The Islamic archaeological site will be redesigned as a hotel, at a cost of around EGP100 million ($6.3 million).
The history of the urban caravanserai and apartment complex dates back to the Mamluk era in the late-fifteenth century. It was built by Sultan Al-Malik Al-Ashraf Abu Al-Nasr Qaytbay, one of the rulers of the state of the Circassian Mamluks, who later ruled Egypt. He loved architecture and the arts, reflected by the timeless monuments that he left.
Wakala Al-Sultan Qaytbay is one of the most beautiful examples of Islamic buildings that characterized architecture in the Mamluk era. It consists of three floors and overlooks a spacious inner courtyard. The ground floor was used for trade, with the two upper floors for housing.
Archaeologist Mahmoud Abdel-Baset, director general of the Historic Cairo Development Project, said that it was scheduled to be completed within 2021.
He said the project will create a unique hotel while preserving ancient archaeological heritage.
Abdel-Baset added that the hotel will be provided with a suitable furnish for the history and location of the building.
He said that the shops at the complex’s front will be preserved and that they will continue as commercial outlets for tourists and visitors.
The Historic Cairo Development Project told Arab News that the economic return from the hotel will contribute to the continuity of maintenance work, creating a mutually beneficial relationship between the complex and the surrounding community.
The project is being headed by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities with funding from the Ministry of Housing, Fatimid Cairo Authority. Hania Mamdouh, the supervisor of the Engineering Unit in Historic Cairo, confirmed that the Venice Charter for the Conservation and Restoration of Monuments and Sites and the requirements of the tourism ministry for heritage hotels were taken into account.
The team has used different bricks from those found in the original construction to guarantee that visitors can easily distinguish between the two eras of development.
Mamdouh said that red hollow bricks were used because they are lighter and do not affect the structural integrity of the original elements of the facility. She added that the bricks were previously used in a restoration effort from the 1940s.
Hajj Samir, the owner of one of the shops in the area, said that the project is special to the local community. Previously it was a filthy place neglected by government officials.
“In the past, the cleaners did not work...Now things are completely different, and the region will become global in the full sense of the word,” he added.