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.
A local boy watches as tourists photograph themselves at the Sphinx and the great Pyramid of Cheops on May 28, 2011 in Giza, Egypt. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
Egyptians ride horses past the great pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo on March 3, 2011. (KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A tourist from the Philippines poses for a picture in front of the great pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo on March 3, 2011. (KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)
A tour guide tends to horses while waiting for tourists near the Giza pyramids on February 15, 2011 in Giza, Egypt. With tourism counting for 6 percent of Egypt's gross domestic product, the country's economy has taken a huge hit after foreign tourists fled during Egypt's uprising. Some 15 million tourists visited Egypt in 2010 and the tourism industry supports up to 10 percent of the Egyptian population. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Egyptian visitors watch a nearly empty light and sound show at the Giza pyramids on February 15, 2011 in Giza, Egypt. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
An Egyptian man waits for tourists to take them on camel rides at the Giza pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo on February 14, 2011. (PEDRO UGARTE/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture shows the Sphynx near the pyramids in Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo, on November 30, 2010. (PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images)
French movie star Juliette Binoche poses next to the Sphynx at the site of the pyramids in Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo, on November 30, 2010. (HOUDA IBRAHIM/AFP/Getty Images)
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An Egyptian sells souvenirs in front the Great Pyramid of Khafre in Giza, on March 30, 2010. (KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama poses for a photo in front of the Sphinx during a tour of the Great Pyramids of Giza following his landmark speech to the Muslim World on June 4, 2009. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
In this photo provided by The White House, President Barack Obama ducks his head to get through an entranceway on a tour of the Pyramids and Sphinx June 4, 2009 near Cairo, Egypt. At center-right is the hieroglyphic that the President comment on saying it looked like him. (Photo by Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images)
The pyramids in the Giza plateau in the outskirts of Cairo, some of Egypt's most recognizable landmarks, stand tall behind popular housing on June 2, 2009. (CRIS BOURONCLE/AFP/Getty Images)
Foreign tourists climb one of the Pyramids of Giza, south of Cairo, on February 23, 2009. (KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni visit the Great Pyramids of Giza on the outskirts of Cairo, 30 December 2007. (KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)