Egyptian Chronicles: Musafir Khana : The Khedival Birthplace Which Was Forgotten

Friday, July 9, 2010

Musafir Khana : The Khedival Birthplace Which Was Forgotten

Right after we know that Zahi Hawas will add the title of "Reality TV star" beside his other titles he got whether officially "the head of the supreme council of antiquities" or unofficially "Egypt's Indiana Jones"  , Youm 7 shocked us with a report about the status of the "Musafir Khana".
"Musafir Khana" is a beautiful palace that was built in the 18th century by the head of merchants' guild in Cairo as you can see from its description in Tour Egypt website. In the 19th century it was bought by Mohamed Ali Pasha , which makes it a Royal palace. It was famous not only for its beauty and size but also for being the birthplace of Khedive Ismail Pasha.
In 1998 it was destroyed in huge suspicious fire and after a decade despite the a LE 25 million restoration plan the high supreme council of antiquities had declared when the fire took place , it went from bad to worse to worst.
To restore Musafir Khana
A whole decade has passed and no one checked on the palace and whether it is being restored or not. In 2007 Egyptian journalist and author Gamal Al-Ghatani tried to remind the ministry of culture with the palace but in vain , his book did not move Zahi Hawas nor Farouk Hosni , in fact I doubt if they knew about it. May be they think it is still fine just like the webmaster of Tour Egypt who does not know it was destroyed and Tourists can't visit in its current condition.
Most Egyptians did not know that the "Musafir Khana" exists in the first place till Youm 7 shocked us all with condition the palace has reached to : A safe haven for junkies. I usually criticize Youm 7 coverage but this time I have to tell journalist Wael El-Samri : Hats off sir, this is what the journalist should do. After this report which generated a lot of reaction, the supreme council of antiquities had to speak and to defend itself:
    The restoration works will start in two months
     We could not restore it in the past because we had for the restoration studies and research at the same time the construction materials have been to expensive lately !!
The palace was destroyed in the fire from 12 years ago and they are speaking about the construction materials now !!??
Al Musafar Khana Now
I do not know if it is the irony or what but the birthplace of Khedive Ismail was burnt just like the Opera house he built and inaugurated as the first Opera house in the Middle East , even more stranger the high supreme council of antiquities has decided to restore the palace and the government decided to rebuild the opera house in its old location in 2010.
I intended to write about Musafir Khana when Youm 7 first broke the story yet I was busy and today after reading the new discovery of Zahi Hawas which Farouk Hosni held a press conference for , I had to write about the palace because if Youm 7 did not show us the palace now , it would continue to be a junkie haven after being the khedival birthplace !! Both Farouk Hosni and Zahi Hawas are required to explain to us how that palace was completely forgotten for a more than 10 years !!
I hoped that after that report Farouk Hosni , who once hoped to be the curator of the world culture and history heritage and Zahi Hawas , who was officially appointed as the head of the supreme council of antiquities in Egypt "and antiquities here mean all Egyptian antiquities not only the ancient antiquities" to held an immediate press conference at the Musafir Khana palace and to announce the immediate restoration works not to mention Dr. Hosni is demanded to explain why the palace has not been restored all that time and where did the LE 25 million allocated to the Palace restoration go !!??
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  1. Where and how did Ismail die?
    = )

  2. He died in Istanbul in his exile , this is Ismail Pasha , the grandson of Mohamed Ali Pasha not his son

  3. Is history being fabricated???

    Egypt, Sudan, and Libya 1700-1950
    by Sanderson Beck

    Egypt under the Ottomans 1700-1805

    'The Viceroy sent his son Isma‘il Pasha to capture slaves from Sudan, which was made a colony; but of the 20,000 slaves taken to Aswan for his modern army, only 3,000 were still alive in 1824. Funj’s Sultan Badi VI surrendered in 1821 at Sennar while another force led by Treasurer Muhammad Bey Khusrav was conquering Kordofan. Distant Darfur could not be subjugated and was not annexed by Egypt until 1874. Isma‘il on his way through Shindi in 1822 demanded $30,000 and 6,000 slaves in two days. When the local Ja‘liyin chief Nimir protested that was too much, Isma‘il hit him with his pipe. In revenge for this insult, Nimir had Isma‘il and his staff burned in a dwelling. Khusrav came and used firearms to suppress the uprising with massacres.'

    Could this be another 'x' file that was conjured up to salvage the image of the nation with the 'manifest destiny...?

  4. I read Elghitani's book and it brought tears to my eyes ...

    Always reading my thoughts ,Z,proud to have you as my friend.

  5. what history is fabricated my dear , read my comment again
    Khedive Ismail was the grandson of Mohamed Ali and the son of Ibrahim Pasha.
    Ismail Pasha was the son the of Mohamed Ali and the brother of Ibrahim Pasha

    Now you should read more the history of Egypt to know more about Khedive Ismail

  6. @Akher Aym , thanks my dear , it is my pleasure
    Ironically El-Ghitani is sick now and has not seen that sad report

  7. sick ?? O my God may God grant him health and long living.I have had enough bad news the last couple of weeks.
    I shared your post on FB ..unfortunately many people never heard about the palace before.

  8. My bad for confusing the Ismail's...

    But isn't it interesting how there seems to be a scarcity of information on Isma'il the elder's death..???

  9. @Akher Aym , thanks for the share
    He is fine now , already he fell sick after appearing on Ch.2 live last week , I saw him there and i do not know why he continued the finished
    After leaving the TV building he was transferred to the hospital , he is fine

    @Africanist , guess we know about Ismail Mohamed Ali , I knew about him and his grim destiny before you brag about it by years

  10. Where did the LE 25 million go is a good question. But even if they find it, is it enough money? The video showed not just syringes but rubble everywhere. And will the price of restoration ever be recovered? The people of Egypt deserve a return on their investment in taxes used to restore and develop historical sites and antiquities. Between the pyramids and the Valley of the Kings you have the most famous and valuable antiquities in the world. You have no rivals in Europe, Asia or anywhere else. Musafir Khana could be fixed up, but it's not realistic to think it's going to draw in tourist money like the pyramids. Maybe that would be a better place to invest LE 25 million.

    Watch, paxmachina or someone will jump on me for promoting tourism. I'm just being realistic. The Saudis have oil. The Scots have whisky. The Egyptians have pyramids.

  11. @Jason and all: just following on Jason's comment, I read I think in Shorouk how the returns from Suez canal are almost equal to the annual Saudi returns from their oil!!!!!!!!! If that is true, Egypt seems to have way more revenues than we are all made to think and where does that difference go?!!!

  12. @Anonymous, I forgot about the canal earnings. I consulted Google and Wolfram Alpha. In US dollars Egypt makes very roughly $400 million per month, or LE 2.28 billion per month, from canal tolls. That is comparable to Egypt's income from foreign tourism to within an order of magnitude, although tourism receipts vary greatly from year to year depending on the global economy. Saudi oil earnings per month are four or five times that. But the canal and the pyramids will never be used up!

  13. @jason

    As the next president of Egypt, I would bulldoze the Suez Canal. It is more trouble than anything else in our history and our region. Besides, it is of no use to Egypt as we have access to both the Red Sea and the Med.

  14. Of course Zeinobia, as a person who lives in the glories of the past, you would have heard of Ismail, son of Muhammad Ali, who led the invasion of Sudan's assassination by the Mek Nimir - the tribal leader of the ja'aliyeen tribe in Northern Sudan.

    The Mek Nimir is so feted in Sudan that one of the newest bridges across the Blue Nile in Khartoum, which provides over 70% of the River Nile's flow and originates in Ethiopia was named...The Mek Nimir bridge.

  15. @Anonymous -- from Wikipedia "According to the nationalisation act, SCA is bound by the Constantinople Convention of 29 October 1888 which grants the right of free access and use of the canal at equal conditions to all ships, commercial ships and ships of war, in times of peace or of war, even to ships of belligerent parties."

    If you tried to bulldoze it, the rest of the world would take it away from you. It would remain open, the only difference being that Egypt would not benefit from the tolls.

  16. @Africanist: knowing the history of the region is a good thing but living in the past and using it as a justification for the hateful comments you keep on posting here is awful. You are such a negative person, not one comment from you has any positive words all negative. Look, whether you like it or not we had a more predominant role in the region, like all countries we did some conquering and established our authority in other places, we wont apologize for any thing our previous or current officials and leaders did thats in the past. Now, in case you do not know most Egyptians truly believe in the special bond we have with the Sudanese, are worried that in a few months there will be two Sudans and we all know that wont bring a lasting peace, and in fact many think there is some truth in the demands of the African countries about the Nile Agreement and that we should re-negotiate and use it as a chance to increase our cooperation. Having said that, Egypt has legal rights in the Nile water and that is something that you along with some ministers in some African countries seem to be forgetting.
    Last but not least, Egypt is in its weak phase since a change in leadership is looming so, not a single important file/issue is being dealt with properly and we are suffering and complaining so, how do you think the situation will be when dealing with external issues!!!

  17. @Anon and @Jason: Anon what a brilliant mind, get rid of the most imp thing we have seriously?!! Before the Canal Egypt was sought for its strategic location any ways so, its not the Canal that brought us trouble it our lack of ambition as a group of citizens to make sure whomever is ruling us is capable, only serves the country and has a vision that made others think they could exploit us.
    What Jason wrote is correct, there are treaties and rules that govern the water passages and if Egypt prevents a ship of a certain country to cross this is an effective declaration of war on that country, by law.

  18. I have to say, as someone who studied Archaeology in England, that Zahi Hawass drives me crazy! He is more interested in self glorification than on the preservation of Egyptian antiquities! If the site is not likely to attract enough attention, no matter how special, then I feel that Hawass will just not be interested. He needs to be in front of a camera! I feel angry when I see him on TV, because he just does not do justice to the amazing heritage which Egypt contains. There is so much more to Egypt than the pyramids!
    It feels like he is constantly trying to be the 'discoverer' of things and no-one else has a chance to shine when he is about! He makes a great TV personality but that does not make him a good archaeologist! I've seen him in action and it makes me groan with despair!!! For God's sake, and Egypt's, give us someone who really does love the entire country with ALL of its history...and its present!

  19. Sudanese Observer7/11/2010 01:15:00 AM

    @ Anonymous:

    I guess your statement about living in the past also applies to the creator of the blog???

    You conjure up the past when it suits you.

    It's pathetic how you consider opposition to racism and the call for legitimate rights to be...hateful!

    I've said I wish Egyptians the future they deserve in another comment - I meant it in a good way - the comment was on Al-Baradei and I also said he hasn't made one statement on Sudan so we cannot comment on him.

    For someone who criticises living in the past, it's hypocritical when you talk of 'predominant roles and conquering'.

    Don't apologise for your past wrongs and we will 'never' let go or forget Egypt's dark legacy and we will keep celebrating the liberation of Khartoum by the Mahdists, the assassination of Ismail, son of Muhammad Ali and our glorious independence - and we will continue to glorify Al-Mak Nimir.

    You obviously don't have the foresight or maturity of the Turks and the Greeks and the South Koreans and Japanese who have managed to accommodate each other's diametrically opposing visions of heir history.

    What do Egyptians 'base' the special bond with Sudanese people on???

    Muhammad Ali's invasion?

    Egyptians have been socially engineered to look favourably on the Sudanese as the biggest threat to the amount of water that gets to them is from Sudan, not Egypt - it's a matter of interests.

    What do Egyptians know about Sudan to start off with that legitimates their worry about the independence of South Sudan????????
    Where was their worry during the civil war between 1955-1972?
    Where was their worry when they weaseled the 1959 Agreement out of the first military administration of Sudan?

    Many Egyptians recognise the legitimacy of the demands of the Nile's Upstream States?
    Where are these Egyptians and where are their voices?

    And what of the arrogant way in which Egypt was stressing on its historical rights and threatening other States with war?

    Today the international community does not recognise historical rights, it recognises reasonable and equitable utilisation for all.

    Today Egypt is incapable of attacking Upstream States and Sudan will not allow its territory or airspace to be used for this means.

    Nothing can be hidden anymore and attempts to foment instability through Somali insurgents in Ethiopia and Ertirean insurgents in Ethiopia will also not work.

    I agree with what you said about Egypt's weakness however I think that the leadership transition is only 'one' factor or cause of this weakness.

    And if even in times of weakness you cannot be objective, what is to be exected when you are in times of strength?

    Actually in Sudan we know the answer very well - gain for Egypt at the expense of Sudan.

    But thank God those days are long gone.

  20. @Sudanese Observer:

    What ties countries on the official level are interests. We could like each other and have interests or hate each other and still have interests. So, if you ask why Egypt cares for the south ect then you should also ask the same question to other countries caring for what is happening in Sudan and please do not tell me you are naive to not realize its all interests and has nothing to do with caring for human rights ect.

    Stop fooling yourself that the Egyptian relation with Sudan is only that starting in the Mohamed Ali era.

    Egypt has "legal" rights in the Nile water and plz go and ask any expert in int law about such situations and we actually are military capable, may be not to fight all but to make a point. Also, war isnt the only way there are others ways to mess with construction plans. Any country facing a threat for cutting its main water supplies would react the same way and will have those who will find the military way attractive. Having said that Im not supporting it and its clear the leadership in Egypt isnt supporting it.

    Whatever treaties your country got into and you do not agree with or like is not our problem to be honest blame those politicians of your and blame those who run your country for not looking up for your interests.

    "Nothing can be hidden anymore and attempts to foment instability through Somali insurgents in Ethiopia and Ertirean insurgents in Ethiopia will also not work."
    :D wow so even for this Egypt is blamed.

    I dnt care if you wish us well by your words or not, all Im reading from you and that other person is attack after the other not an ounce on reflecting on your mistakes no suggestions on how to mend things as individuals. Accusations of racism and when we try to explain that what you referred to wasnt all our doing you say we are accusing you of hate bec you spoke against racism. Well, in every country there are those who are racist. How are the relations really bet Northern and Southern Sudanese? can you marry from each other?!! Why are you holding an entire population responsible for the actions of some?
    Im all for highlighting problems and discussing them and exchanging ideas and thoughts but all im reading from Sudanese posters are mostly rantings about us.

  21. Sudanese Observer7/11/2010 02:32:00 PM

    So, if you ask why Egypt cares for the south ect then you should also ask the same question to other countries caring for what is happening in Sudan and please do not tell me you are naive to not realize its all interests and has nothing to do with caring for human rights ect.

    Those other countries that care about South Sudan don't insult Sudanese people in a racist manner in their media.

    Even the UK has been frank and forthright in revisiting its colonial history - they don't justify everything done by the Empire - unlike Egyptians - they have officially and publically apologised and what did you say?
    That you were not going to apologise for anything official Egypt did in the past...

    All the responses that I've gotten here have been 'defensive' - where I've highlighted the problem of the racism of Egyptian media against Sudanese people, I've been told that other countries also have done the same.

    I can't believe that you are so 'incompetent' as to not make a stand and demand that your media 'desists' from this unjustifiable action.

    You are also 'selective' about yoru causes - you campaign against police brutality in the case of Khalid and ignore Halayeb activists who were tortured to death in Egyptian prisons and who are incarcerated without being charged - and all because they campaign for the restitution of Halayeb's sovereignty to Sudan...

    Egypt's relations with Sudan are older than Muhammad Ali's invasion, but they were also based on rivalry and reciprocal struggle.
    Egyptian specialists have been coopted, as part of the social-engineering plan, to 'Mediterraneanise' ancient Egypt history.

    I recall watching a program on Egyptian tv where the reporter was touring the museum in Aswan.
    She asked the curator if the mummified remains were those of slaves because their skin was so dark, or whether they used henna to dye their skin - he said no these were royal mummies, not everyone got mummified, and these people were actually black.

    Yes marriages do occur between Northern and Southern Sudanese particularly in South Kordofan and Abyei - do you know anything about South Kordofan and Abyei?
    Our media in Sudan does not insult southerners and a newspaper which was inciting racism was recently 'shut down'.

    I'm blaming the Egyptian commentators here because they won't even admit to the problems, refuse to see issues from any perspective but their own and do not want to do anything to correct those wrongs.

    You might be too closed-minded to accept differing opinions but the truth is that these opinions exists amongst an extremely large swathe of Sudanese people and by skirting the issues you will just make the problem worse.

    Regarding Public International Law, I refer you to the UN Watercourses Convention 1997 Articles 5 and 6.

    Only Egyptian experts would say the doctrine of historical rights still exists.


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