Egypt’s Billion-Dollar Museum Is Getting Ready to Open as the Country’s Tourism Sector Weathers the Israel-Hamas Conflict

After 20 years and a billion dollars, the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) will soon be ready to welcome visitors, according to a report by CNN

Described as “largest museum in the world dedicated to one civilization,” the GEM is also expected to become one of the world’s leading centers for archaeological and historical study.

Strategically set between Cairo and the Great Pyramid of Giza, the GEM has an 120-acre footprint and will house 100,000 artifacts, 20% of which will be on public display for the first time, over 12 exhibition halls that take up 484,000 square feet of floor space.

Among the historical treasures that will be housed in the GEM are Tutankhamen’s sarcophagus along with all of the 5,000 artifacts that were found in his tomb when it was uncovered in 1922, a 30-foot-tall, 3,200-year-old statue of Ramses the Great, and the Khufu ship, a fully intact solar barge that was buried next to the Great Pyramid in 2500 BC.

The structure was designed by Irish architectural firm Henghan Peng after their vision for a future home of Egyptian historical artifacts won a contest in 2003. According to Architectural Digest, the GEM’s construction was plagued by setbacks, from the financial crisis in 2018 to 2011’s Arab Spring and the Covid pandemic. 

A March 2022 article by Building Design + Construction reported that the structure was “99% complete, with the remaining 1% representing the final touches and logistics for the official opening, planned for November 2022.” While no date has been officially announced, Architectural Digest says “there are murmurs of a late 2023 inauguration.”

The forthcoming opening comes as Egypt attempts to double the amount of tourism to the country over the next five years with a goal of 30 million visitors by 2028. The Israel-Hamas war that has consumed the Gaza Strip has had a negligible effect on tourism to the country, the Egyptian tourism minister told Reuters, with less than 10 percent of tourist bookings to the country effected. 

In a conflicting report, a tour operator told The Independent that “bookings for Egyptian Red Sea resorts through their company had fallen by 80 percent.” While travel to Egypt is still considered safe by some governments, the U.S. Department of State has, since July 2023, advised Americans against travel to Egypt due to terrorist attacks and the prevalence of military zones.