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A first look at the Great Egyptian Museum, set to be the most exciting opening in modern times

Simon Calder’s Travel

“The more you know about them, the more besotted you get.”

Egypt’s deputy minister of tourism is gazing across the plateau of Giza as he describes the unforgettable sight of the Great Pyramid, proudly pushing out of the desert in front of him.

Dark shadows of clouds climb up the sandy sides, only to roll off again, leaving the pyramids shining in the same vibrant yellow as the sand which lies all around, dominating the horizon as they point to the heavens above.

A smile stretching his cheeks wide, Mohamed Salama runs through some of the massively ambitious plans to transform Cairo’s tourism, including the opening of the Great Egyptian Museum.

We are sharing an Egyptian mixed grill lunch at the 9 Pyramids restaurant, camouflaged into the Giza desert plateau and overlooking one of the world’s most famous landmarks.

Out of sight, on the northern side of the pyramids and the sphinx, is the 120-acre site of the long-delayed but highly-anticipated £1 billion Japanese-funded museum – the largest archaeological museum in the world with 872,000 square-feet of floorspace.

It will be home to 100,000 artefacts, including 5,398 items from the legendary Tutankhamun collection, featuring highlights such as the iconic death mask of the boy king as well as his golden throne.

More than 100 years since the world was gripped by the excavations of British archaeologist Howard Carter, who uncovered one of the greatest historical discoveries, Egypt is preparing a final resting place worthy of the legendary king’s possessions.

The roof of the sand-coloured compound slopes down to earth like a ray of sunlight from the sky, which is interrupted by a pyramid of dark stone that acts as the grand entrance to the museum.

How to plan your trip


EasyJet ( flies from London Luton to Sphinx Airport up to three days a week throughout the year with prices starting from £139pp return (including taxes).

EasyJet holidays offers three nights at the Waldorf Astoria Cairo Heliopolis (room only) from £780pp including 23kg of luggage per person and flights from London Gatwick on April 27, 2024. Tours and activities can be booked through Musement.

Once inside, I am greeted in the luxuriously vast lobby by the 3,200-year-old statue of Ramses II – at 11 metres, it’s so tall that it had to be installed when the site was still a pile of sand, and the…

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