The long-awaited Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo promises to be one of the biggest cultural openings of the year, and an opening date and ticket prices have finally been announced.
The museum’s completion has been delayed for several years, but it’s now slated to open in the last quarter of 2020 and is said to now be 90% finished. A more specific opening date is supposed to be soon announced by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. Entry fees, however, are now set in stone. For foreigners, it will be LE400 (about US$25), with 50% off for students. The price for Egyptians is LE60 (about US$3.75).
Comparatively, at the salmon-pink Egyptian Museum on Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, where many of the GEM’s artefacts are being transported from and which will close after the bigger museum opens, foreigners currently pay LE160 (about US$10). Nearly 50,000 artefacts have been moved to the Grand Egyptian Museum already, and the GEM will display all of Tutankhamun's burial treasures in the same place for the first time. Huge statues, including an 11m-high, 3200-year-old figure of pharaoh Ramses II, are already on site.
Egypt is expecting to receive more than 15 million tourists in 2020, matching the number of visitors in 2010, a year before the Arab Spring revolutions brought turmoil and uncertainty to the region. Lonely Planet named Cairo one of the top 10 cities to visit in 2020, thanks to the museum’s opening as well as the launch of the new Sphinx Airport nearby.