Sudan gets Qatari cash for archaeological digs and restoration work


Information became available over the weekend that Qatar has offered a grant to The Republic of the Sudan worth 135 million US Dollars for a joint project, aimed to rehabilitate the Sudan National Museum and carry out infrastructure work on up to 100 archeological sites across the country.

Sudan, in ancient times part of Egypt and known as the Upper Kingdom, has a rich history and is filled with monuments, temples and sites in particular along the River Nile. However, unlike Egypt in modern days has the Sudan failed to capitalize on these attractions by opening up to global tourism the way it is done downstream, where fleets of hundreds of river cruisers take tourists to the Egyptian temples and monuments.

After losing over 75 percent of the country’s oil wealth, when South Sudan attained her liberty on Independence Day in July 2011, tourism could be a catalyst for economic revival for Sudan but the regime’s policies are considered not conducive for allowing in large number of foreign tourists as seen in Egypt, where tourism is the backbone of the economy and key foreign exchange earner. Visa bureaucracy and the need for multiple permits to travel across the country are seen as one of the major obstacles to increasing visitor numbers and recent comments by government officials that the Sudan does not want tourists who come to drink alcohol or want to wear bikinis were generally considered unhelpful vis a vis key tourist producer countries stepping up and sending more tourists to the Sudan.

The grant by Qatar, which is a major financial supporter of the regime in Khartoum and has financed a highway connecting the Sudan to neighbouring Eritrea, among other projects, will go a long way to restore the National Museum in Khartoum to a better state, rehabilitate exhibits and artifacts while at the same time allowing for fresh archeological digs at key sites.

Sudan’s tourism minister Mohamed Al Had made the announcement last weekend when he specified that two new archeological sites will be established in the Nahr Alneel state while initially 27 sites in Northern state and the Al-Bejrawiyya pyramids, aka Meroe pyramids will undergo some major work. These pyramids are ranked by TripAdvisor as the Sudan’s number one tourism attraction, though only one of the many which remain relatively inaccessible to visitors from abroad.

(Picture courtesy of Wikipedia)

The project director, Qatar’s Abdullah Al –Najar, who previously served with the Qatar Museum Authority, was quoted to have urged Sudanese government bodies to fully support the project’s aims and promote the rich heritage and culture of the country abroad, ostensibly referring to the need to attract more paying tourist visitors to sustain these sites for the long term through entrance fees.

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