CAIRO: Egypt is to begin implementing a spiritual shrine project in the Sinai Peninsula.
The Greater Transfiguration Project will develop the Monastery of Saint Catherine, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, in cooperation with stakeholders in the region.
The city of Saint Catherine is located in South Sinai amid a mountain range, the most famous of which is Jabal Mousa as well as Mount Catherine, and the Monastery of Saint Catherine is one of the oldest in the world.
Egyptian Housing Minister Assem El-Gazzar instructed officials to quickly implement the project, saying the project's site was unique and that the country’s political leadership was following the project’s implementation.
He added that the project aimed to establish a spiritual shrine on the mountains surrounding the Holy Valley in light of the city’s position, which represented a destination for spiritual tourism and provided tourism and entertainment services to visitors.
The project will link the city with the rest of the extended coastal area between El-Tor, Sharm El-Sheikh and Dahab.
The development work would not interfere with the Holy Valley or the main part of the nature reserve, he said, and there would be no buildings on these sites in order to preserve their sanctity and archeological value.
The western part of the Monastery of Saint Catherine's library, which has the second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts in the world, is currently being restored. There is also restoration work being carried out on some churches inside the monastery, such as the Church of Saint John and Saint Stephen.
El-Gazzar said that, in order to preserve the spirituality of Saint Catherine, the project aimed to develop the city and its surroundings while at the same time preserve the environment.
The plan is to accommodate the largest possible number of visitors in the vicinity of Saint Catherine, and to provide accommodation for the employees working on Saint Catherine projects.