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About Dr. Zahi Hawass

zahi Hawass

Dr. Zahi Hawass is the Secretary-General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. He was born in Damietta, Egypt on May 28, 1947. He was the General Director of the Giza Pyramids and Saqqara and Bahria Oasis from 1987-98. Hawass studied in both Egypt and the United States, receiving his Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1967 and his Diploma in 1980 in Alexandria, Egypt. He went on to the University of Pennsylvania for Egyptology and received his Master of Arts Degree in 1983 and Ph.D.in 1987.

Hawass has been a consultant for several documentaries, films, television specials and magazine stories throughout the years and has taught courses and given lectures in both Egypt and the U.S., and holds several committee appointments. He is a Member of the Board of the Cairo Museum, the German Archaeological Institute, the High Council of Culture (History and Archaeology), the Fellowship Committee, E.A.O., the Committee for the Restoration of the Sphinx, and several other key organizations.

Dr Zahi Hawass

Hawass strongly supports the restoration of the Sphinx. He stated that the Sphinx has "cancer" due to the "wrong restoration" methods having been used on it. The restoration plan Hawass has implemented for the Sphinx includes moving the parking area, picnic area and vendors away from the monuments and adding a ventilation system to the Sphinx to decrease the trapped moisture from the visitors' breath. Much of his restoration plan has been implemented already, in fact. With Zahi Hawass at the head of this task, it is sure to be finished in good form.

Along with restoration, Hawass is also in charge of excavations of many ancient sites. He has uncovered many interesting sites, such as the tomb of the workers at Giza. He also found an unusual statue and some new views of life through the art in the pyramids. He believes there is much more to find under the sands of Egypt. 

Our Interview With Dr. Zahi Hawass

Ask-Aladdin: Could you explain what it was that made you become an Egyptologist?

Dr. Hawass:  I became an Egyptologist after realizing that law school was not my passion. I studied Graeco-Roman archaeology at university instead. At the age of 20, I joined the Antiquities Department in Cairo.

Ask Aladdin: Which name do you prefer to use, Khufu or Cheops? (I have heard you use both, but I know you have to work to a “script”, which is written by others when doing television work!)

Dr. Hawass: I would use Khufu.

Ask Aladdin:  Thinking about question two, do you think that ancient Egyptian names should be standardized to one spelling

Dr.Hawass :  Yes, I think ancient Egyptian names should be standardized.

Askaladdin: Do you agree with the “European” influence that seems to be invading Egypt’s Red Sea resorts?

Dr. Hawass: The Red Sea resorts are beautiful and should be enjoyed by everybody. Everybody has the right to enjoy them, including Europeans and Egyptians.

Ask Aladdin: What one thing would you do to make Egypt more attractable to visitors?

Dr. Hawass: I would make more highways and motels in Minya and Sohag. These are areas not normally visited by tourists. There is more to Egypt than Luxor and Aswan. There are also many archaeological sites in the oases and deserts, which would be more accessible through highways.

Ask Aladdin: What monuments in Egypt do you think are missing from the usual tourist routes?

Dr. Hawass: Approximately 75% of the ancient Egyptian monuments are missing from the usual tourist routes. Sites such as Tell el-Amarna, Beni Hassan, Tuna el-Gebel, Nekhen, and Gebelein are typically not included in the tourist’s visit to Egypt.

Ask Aladdin:  What is your favorite Egyptian city or town and why? 

Dr.Hawass: My favorite city is Cairo. I have favorite places that I like to go – restaurants and cafes – that have become a part of me. On Fridays, I like to go to a favorite cafe.

Ask Aladdin: What is your favorite Ancient Egyptian monument? And why?

Dr. Hawass: My favorite Egyptian monument is the Great Pyramid. Today, it still has many mysteries to reveal.

Ask Aladdin: Do you have a favorite period in Ancient Egyptian history? If so when and why?

Dr. Hawass: My favorite period of Egyptian history is the Old Kingdom. My interest in this period is based upon the pyramids and my excavations at Giza. My work at this site is revealing answers to many questions concerning the Fourth Dynasty.

Ask Aladdin:  Do you have a favorite person in Ancient Egyptian history? If so who and why?

Dr. Hawass: My favorite person in ancient Egyptian history is Khufu, the builder of the Great Pyramid. His great monument still holds many secrets.

Ask Aladdin: What advice would you give to anyone coming to Egypt?

Dr.Hawass: I would advise anyone coming to Egypt that it is a very safe country – safer than any other in the world. In order to appreciate its beauty, people must come into contact with the Egyptians, which one does not normally do on a tour.

Ask Aladdin: Where is your favorite holiday/vacation destination?

Dr.Hawass: I never take a vacation!

May I take this opportunity to thank Dr. Hawass for taking the time to answer these questions, exclusively for ask-aladdin.com. He has a busy schedule and taking the time to do this interview was very much appreciated.

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