Zahi Hawass Conflicts Of Interest Exposed

Zahi Hawass in northern Egypt on 8 May 2010Kate Taylor’s front page article for the New York Times suggests that Dr. Hawass, the controversial Egyptian antiquities minister, is on the way out. I know more than a few people who think it’s more than past due:

Until recently Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s antiquities minister, was a global symbol of Egyptian national pride. A famous archaeologist in an Indiana Jones hat, he was virtually unassailable in the old Egypt, protected by his success in boosting tourism, his efforts to reclaim lost artifacts and his closeness to the country’s first lady, Suzanne Mubarak.

But the revolution changed all that.

Now demonstrators in Cairo are calling for his resignation as the interim government faces disaffected crowds in Tahrir Square.

Their primary complaint is his association with the Mubaraks, whom he defended in the early days of the revolution. But the upheaval has also drawn attention to the ways he has increased his profile over the years, often with the help of organizations and companies with which he has done business as a government official.

He receives, for example, an honorarium each year of as much as $200,000 from National Geographic to be an explorer-in-residence even as he controls access to the ancient sites it often features in its reports.

He has relationships — albeit ones he says he does not profit from — with two American companies that do business in Egypt.

One, Arts and Exhibitions International, secured Mr. Hawass’s permission several years ago to take some of the country’s most precious treasures, the artifacts of King Tut, on a world tour; its top executives recently started a separate venture to market a Zahi Hawass line of clothing.

A second company, Exhibit Merchandising, has been selling replicas of Mr. Hawass’s hat for several years. Last year that company was hired to operate a new store in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Mr. Hawass says his share of the profits from those products goes directly to Egyptian charities. But the fact that both charities, a children’s cancer hospital and a children’s museum, were overseen by Ms. Mubarak before the revolution has angered some critics…

[continues in the New York Times ]

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  • Anonymous

    If it’s one thing the New York Times is good at, it’s being behind the times.

  • SF2K01

    If it’s one thing the New York Times is good at, it’s being behind the times. This guy thinks Egypt is his personal archaeological project that no one else may touch and everything he finds conveniently supports his theories above all others. I’ve met guys like this before and they’re always huge douches.

    • MoralDrift

      That picture is rather douchey

    • Jaymalls

      i hear you but i think its deeper than all this bullshit the NYT is trying 2 pitch… once he is out, its going to be nothin but Westerners controlling the sites

      • SF2K01

        That’s not really a problem because who cares where they’re from as long as they treat the property appropriately? “Western” archaeologists do just fine most places, but this guy is hoarding it all to himself as his personal project. Maybe because he’s Egyptian, although unless he’s coptic it’s not really his anyhow.

        • Jaymalls

          lol on the coptic part. But i would be a douche just like Zahi if my country was sacked for most of its artwork/sculptures/etc. Most of Eygpts prized artwork is not even in Eygpt… what kinda bullshit is that??? When i watch the discovery channel (Laugh Now) all i see is white archeologist everywhere from Mexico to Africa, to Asia and the Easter Islands. Then when things go missing, who do you think gets things to antiquity dealers and auction houses legally??? 

          • SF2K01

            Most of the Egyptian archaeology was done before Egypt was actually a country and modern boarders have very little to do with the areas that the ancient peoples who lived there were located on. It didn’t help that Britain pretty much ran the scene and didn’t give a crap about local heritage, so yeah it’s not in Egypt anymore.

            The people who steal the antiquities these days aren’t the archaeologists themselves but the local workers (whom you hire because they’re cheap and all you need them to do is do boring mechanical stuff like clean or sift) and, in that area of the world, Bedouins (their culture pretty much says the equivalent of finders keepers). Then they sell the shit on the black market because it pays better than Dr. Jones does.

            Zahi has been a huge douche as long as he’s been in charge of Egyptian archaeology, which is mostly in a pretty stagnant and stale state, thanks to him.

          • Hadrian999

            is that really bad? look what happened to cultural relics in Afghanistan, if hardline Muslims gain control of egypt the only things that will be preserved are the things that were looted by evil westerners.

  • Gregory

    Well, he doesn’t need to go because he was using his job for personal gain, that’s the Uhmurkan Way.  He needs to be mummified alive because he’s a prick.

  • Gregory

    Well, he doesn’t need to go because he was using his job for personal gain, that’s the Uhmurkan Way.  He needs to be mummified alive because he’s a prick.

  • Anonymous

    That picture is rather douchey

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4K3KM67XITZTXUE45K42KS4OEE brian

    Honestly this article seems really biased in favor of Hawass. It only mentions his buisness dealings, as if that’s the main thing the Egyptians are upset about. What about all of the accusations that the was either directly, or indirectly involved in the looting or thefts of various Egyptian antiquities!? You’d think from this article that all he was being accused of was being a shrewd businessman! 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4K3KM67XITZTXUE45K42KS4OEE brian

    Honestly this article seems really biased in favor of Hawass. It only mentions his buisness dealings, as if that’s the main thing the Egyptians are upset about. What about all of the accusations that the was either directly, or indirectly involved in the looting or thefts of various Egyptian antiquities!? You’d think from this article that all he was being accused of was being a shrewd businessman! 

  • Anonymous

    i hear you but i think its deeper than all this bullshit the NYT is trying 2 pitch… once he is out, its going to be nothin but Westerners controlling the sites

  • Anonymous

    That’s not really a problem because who cares where they’re from as long as they treat the property appropriately? “Western” archaeologists do just fine most places, but this guy is hoarding it all to himself as his personal project. Maybe because he’s Egyptian, although unless he’s coptic it’s not really his anyhow.

  • Yith

    “ I know more than a few people who think it’s more than past due.”

    Amateur archeologists will get the same treatment from his replacement.

  • Yith

    “ I know more than a few people who think it’s more than past due.”

    Amateur archeologists will get the same treatment from his replacement.

  • Anonymous

    lol on the coptic part. But i would be a douche just like Zahi if my country was sacked for most of its artwork/sculptures/etc. Most of Eygpts prized artwork is not even in Eygpt… what kinda bullshit is that??? When i watch the discovery channel (Laugh Now) all i see is white archeologist everywhere from Mexico to Africa, to Asia and the Easter Islands. Then when things go missing, who do you think gets things to antiquity dealers and auction houses legally??? 

  • Anonymous

    Most of the Egyptian archaeology was done before Egypt was actually a country and modern boarders have very little to do with the areas that the ancient peoples who lived there were located on. It didn’t help that Britain pretty much ran the scene and didn’t give a crap about local heritage, so yeah it’s not in Egypt anymore.

    The people who steal the antiquities these days aren’t the archaeologists themselves but the local workers (whom you hire because they’re cheap and all you need them to do is do boring mechanical stuff like clean or sift) and, in that area of the world, Bedouins (their culture pretty much says the equivalent of finders keepers).

    Zahi has been a huge douche as long as he’s been in charge of Egyptian archaeology, which is mostly in a pretty stagnant and stale state, thanks to him.

  • Hadrian999

    is that really bad? look what happened to cultural relics in Afghanistan, if hardline Muslims gain control of egypt the only things that will be preserved are the things that were looted by evil westerners.

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