Egypt fumes over fresh seven wonders competition for pyramids
by Alain NavarroThu Jan 25, 12:50 PM ET
Egypt is fuming over a competition to choose the world’s “new seven wonders,” deriding it as a marketing stunt that demeans the pyramids of Giza, the only surviving ancient wonder.
“They are the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world that still exists, it’s ridiculous, they don’t need to be put to a vote,” Egypt’s antiquities supremo Zahi Hawass was quoted as saying in local newspapers.
Culture Minister Faruq Hosni echoed the complaint, describing the project as “absurd” and its creator, Swiss-Canadian filmmaker Bernard Weber, as a man “concerned primarily with self-promotion”.
Weber has embarked on a tour of the 21 short-listed sites but got a frosty reception in Egypt.
The hotel function room near the pyramids where Weber was due to hold a news conference Wednesday was closed down at the last minute “for maintenance” and an AFP TV crew was prevented from filming “for security reasons.”
“I must say that I’ve never seen anything quite like this anywhere in the world,” Weber said after the botched media event.
The hostility his initiative has met in Egypt came in stark contrast to the honours granted by Jordan, where Weber’s presentation was graced by the presence of an enthusiastic Queen Rania.
“This is probably a conspiracy against Egypt, its civilisation and monuments,” wrote editorialist Al-Sayed al-Naggar in a leading state-owned daily.
Weber, a former assistant to Italian filmmaking legend Federico Fellini, launched a website where Internet users can vote and choose the world’s “new seven wonders.”
The seven wonders of the ancient world were the pyramids, the hanging gardens of Babylon, the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus and the lighthouse of Alexandria.
Among the 21 sites short-listed for the new competition are Petra in Jordan, the Eiffel Tower, the Acropolis in Athens, the Statue of Liberty, the Taj Mahal, the Sydney Opera House and the Great Wall of China.
“I had thought of excluding the pyramids from the competition, but Internet voters would have included them in their selections anyway,” said Weber, who argued Egypt “should have pounced on the opportunity.”
But Nagib Amin, a renowned Egyptian expert on world heritage sites, charged that “in addition to the commercial aspect, the vote has no scientific basis.”
Weber retorted that the controversy had “political motivations” and added that he would donate part of the proceeds of his project towards the reconstruction of the giant Buddhas of Bamiyan, destroyed by Afghanistan’s then Taliban-controlled government in early 2001.
After 160 more days of voting online or by text messaging, the “seven new wonders of the world” will be declared at a ceremony to be held in Lisbon on July 7.
I don’t like the idea of the seven wonders being decided by random people, this isn’t a reality show! Its being treated as a reality show. But I’m sure to most people that are seventeen or younger Mt. Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty are Ancient Wonders of the World. These kids don’t even know about G. I. Joe or Transformers, why would they care about these structures that were built 3000 years ago by people who were far more skilled then they would ever be.