Egypt's new Antiquities Minister has reopened the Pyramid of Chefren and six other ancient tombs on the Giza plateau in a bid to bring tourists back to Cairo. The BBC reports that the tombs had been closed for a restoration project.
Egypt has been looking for new ways to attract tourists since the Arab Spring arrived in the form of street protests. Now that there is a new government led by President Mohammed Morsi, there are new problems. The recent attack on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo did little to dissuade westerners from believing the country is unsafe and unstable.
Egypt's economy is largely dependent on tourism, which has been doing better in some parts of the country -- notably along the Red Sea -- than closer to the massive democracy's urban center. The Giza plateau, featuring the country's most iconic pyramids and the Sphynx, may be the center of Egyptian tourism, but it also sits near downtown Cairo. The area is full of loitering touts and overstocked souvenir sellers.
The reopening is in keeping with the Egyptian tradition of reopening historic sites in an effort to drum up tourist interest. Typically these opening were spearheaded by former Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass, who is no longer part of the Egyptian Government following several scandals. The opening may signal Muhammad Ibrahim's willingness to take on Hawass's role as a the cheerleader for Egyptian tourism.
The Daily Mail reports the visitors had not been allowed into the tombs due to concerns about the effects of the water vapor they bring in in the form of sweat and breath.