The egyptian government has introduced Sunday to the media the ongoing restoration work of the Palace of the Baron Empain in Cairo, which are the subject of heavy criticism on social networks. This palace, located in the upscale neighbourhood of Heliopolis in the east of the capital, was built in 1907 by the belgian baron Édouard Empain. Inspired by the temple of Angkor Wat, in Cambodia, it combines the architectures of hindu and european.

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On social networks, only space of expression for critics of the government, the Egyptians mocked the work done with paintings in red and white brick judged to be of poor quality and do not conform to the original spirit of the building, in shades of beige. “Who is the fool behind the restoration of the palace of Egypt? Our heritage is being destroyed in a systematic manner”, has blasted an internet user on Twitter. “You disassemble, literally, our monuments,” said a group of users on a page on Facebook entitled “Historians egyptians”.

“Breathe life” into this forsaken place

The minister of Antiquities, Khaled el-Enany, defended in describing the critical line of “false information”. “The restoration is a real dream and we’ll breathe life into this monument to be abandoned”, he rejoiced in front of the media. “The colours are correct and are based on historical sources”, told AFP the general Hicham Samir, head of engineering and restoration projects of the heritage of Cairo within the ministry of Antiquities. The work is overseen by the Authority engineering of the armed forces, according to a press release from the department.

In Egypt, the powerful military institutions are involved in numerous infrastructure projects in various fields. The general, Samir added that the palace would be open to the public “at the beginning of next year”.

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According to the ministry, the cost of the work, which began in July 2017, and carried out in cooperation with the belgian government, amounted to 100 million egyptian pounds (5.4 million euros). Like many other historic buildings, the Palace of Baron Empain, is an architectural masterpiece surrounded by lush gardens and palm trees, was in a state of serious disrepair.

Egypt has often been criticized by experts for its negligence, and its lack of rigor in the preservation of its heritage. For the past few years, the government exhibits regularly in various works of restoration in order to boost tourism, a key sector of the economy, bern in recent years due to the political instability and the recurrence of the attacks.