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 A Boost for GEM
The new Grand Egyptian Museum got a welcome boost on the 1st May, for they received notice of the hoped for $300,000,000 loan from the Japanese Government. This will enable them to continue to the next stage of the projectís development. In the courtyard of the Prince Taz Palace in Mediaeval Cairo, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni and Minister of International Cooperation Fayza Abul- Naga met the Japanese Ambassador to Egypt to exchange notes on a long-term loan offered by the Japanese government to help in the construction of the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM). The loan of $300 million provides 70% of the total budget projected at $550 million. The loan will be due after a 10-year grace period, to be settled in instalments through another 30 years with an interest rate of 1.5 per cent

President Hosni Mubarak laid the foundation stone for GEM on the 4th February 2002. It is set to be the world's largest museum - larger than the Metropolitan Museum in New York or the Louvre in Paris. A board of trustees headed by First Lady Mrs Suzanne Mubarak will be set up in an attempt to put into effect the previously launched fund-raising campaign in Egypt and abroad. A Web site calling for Egyptians and foreigners to shoulder part of the burden of bringing the GEM into light will also be launched.

The project of the millennium, as it has been described, will provide 5,000 new job opportunities for Egyptians with differing levels of education, as well as providing them with technical support through periodical training courses in different museological fields. The museum will be equipped to cope with an estimated three million visitors annually. It will also house a fully-computerised information centre for Egyptologists and a training centre where short courses on Egyptology will be given to museum curators and conservators. Specialised courses for IT specialists will also be held. A special section for children will be created in order to help youngsters learn about their heritage. The mission of the museum is to preserve, document, conserve, research and exhibit collections, as well as to educate and entertain visitors. A separate building will house the conservatory, library, mediatheque and other resources. The GEM will not, however, replace the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities in Tahrir Square altogether, as the latter will continue to house 10,000 masterpieces of Pharaonic art and sculpture from different historical periods.
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