Egyptian government converts antique building into hotel

Egyptian government converts antique building into hotel
This photo taken on July 26, 2020 shows the derelict dome of the Mamluk Sultan Abu Said al-Zahir Qansuh al-Ashrafi (AD 1498-1500) amidst ongoing roadworks at the historic City of the Dead necropolis of Egypt's capital Cairo. (AFP)
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Updated 25 October 2020

Egyptian government converts antique building into hotel

Egyptian government converts antique building into hotel
  • Wakala Al-Sultan Qaytbay is one of the most beautiful examples of Islamic buildings that characterized architecture in the Mamluk era

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.

 


In parting shot, Pompeo rebukes Turkey at NATO meeting

Updated 16 min 39 sec ago

In parting shot, Pompeo rebukes Turkey at NATO meeting

In parting shot, Pompeo rebukes Turkey at NATO meeting
  • Pompeo said Turkey was undermining NATO’s security and creating instability in the eastern Mediterranean
  • He added that Turkey was wrong to send paid Syrian fighters to Libya

BRUSSELS/PARIS/ANKARA: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used his final NATO meeting this week to sharply criticize Turkey, saying its purchase of a Russian weapons system was “a gift” to Moscow, according to five diplomats and officials.
At the confidential foreign ministers’ video conference on Tuesday, Pompeo said Turkey was undermining NATO’s security and creating instability in the eastern Mediterranean in a dispute with Greece and non-NATO member Cyprus over gas resources, said the diplomats and officials, who asked not to be named as the discussions were confidential.
While the US and other NATO allies have long been odds over Turkey’s military intervention in Syria and Libya, Pompeo’s remarks underscored the depth of tensions at the Western alliance that many experts say dangerously weakens it.
Pompeo, who leaves office in January as US President Donald Trump’s term ends, also told Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that Turkey was wrong to send paid Syrian fighters to Libya, as the US Defense Department concluded in a report in July, and also to the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
That prompted further chiding of Turkey by allies in the meeting, including France, Greece and even tiny Luxembourg, as well as defiant counter-accusations from Cavusoglu, said the diplomats.
The meeting tone was described as “measured” but “more confrontational” than is usually the case at NATO.
The unity of NATO “was not possible if an ally copied Russian actions,” a diplomat cited French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian as saying in his intervention, referring to Moscow’s fueling of proxy wars by sending in mercenaries.
A US official, speaking on background, said there had been a “frank, closed door discussion” but declined to give details.
“The United States has urged Turkey on multiple occasions to resolve the S-400 (Russian weapons system) issue, cease using Syrian fighters in foreign conflicts, and cease provocative actions in the Eastern Mediterranean,” the official said.
Turkey’s Cavusoglu said on Thursday he could not comment on a confidential meeting.
“I just outlined the differences between the two countries and outstanding issues, he told a public event. “We had to purchase (a weapons system) from Russia because we could not from our allies,” he added.
Turkish sources with knowledge of the meeting said that Pompeo made “unjust accusations” and that were was no united front against Turkey. Turkey was also open to talks with Greece in the eastern Mediterranean with no preconditions, they said.
European Union leaders will consider sanctions on Turkey, which is host to US nuclear warheads, over the Mediterranean gas dispute on Dec. 10.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg spoke by telephone on Wednesday with French President Emmanuel Macron, whose office said that the pair “had the opportunity to directly and in confidence address the concerns expressed by a growing number of allies in regard to Turkey’s strategic choices.”
Tensions threaten to overshadow a new high-level report on NATO’s future that was released this week.
Stoltenberg is seeking to address the tensions with Turkey in part by making recommendations to NATO leaders next year on how to make the alliance stronger politically, including creating a code of conduct to bind allies together.