News reports alleging that the Egyptian government will transfer the administration of the Giza Pyramids to an Emirati company for the next 20 years went viral on social media on Monday.
The reports were based on a 2015 agreement that was signed between the state-run Egyptian Company of Light and Sound (ECLS), currently assigned to operate night shows at the Giza Pyramids, and an Emirati company called Prisme International.
Some social media users expressed anger at the news, launching heavy criticism against the Egyptian government.
Egypt Independent spoke to the head of the ECLS Sameh Saad on Tuesday to get more details on the authenticity of the news reports and the agreement between his company and the Emirati one.
“The 2015 agreement stipulated that Prisme International will be responsible for the upgrading process of the lighting and sound systems used to operate the night shows at the Giza Pyramids. It will also share profits of the show with the ECLS for 20 years [but] this does not mean that it will administrate the Giza Pyramids,” Saad told Egypt Independent on Tuesday.
Saad noted that Prisme international UAE is now under the administration of the Egyptian company Orascom that is owned by Egyptian business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, adding that Orascom has the majority of shares of Prisme international UAE, meaning that the deal was made between two Egyptian companies.
“The partnership is now with an Egyptian company not Emirati company as rumored. The agreement has now been activated after the company was subjected to Egyptian administration, and in both cases, the company is not administrating. It only develops sound and light techniques and will operate them for 20 years under the supervision of the Egyptian Company of Light and Sound. Both companies will share the profits,” Saad clarified.
He further explained that the agreement stipulated that Prisme International will only develop the restaurants of the area and sound and light devices used to operate the night shows around the Sphinx, not the Pyramids.
“The Pyramids are totally under the supervision and administration of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities during morning [hours]. With the arrival of night, the administration of the pyramids and Sphinx goes to the Egyptian Company of Light and Sound. The agreement is not related to the Pyramids at all as people are prohibited from entering it at night as there are light and sound shows there.”
The shows that are being operated by the Egyptian Company of Sound and Light tell the story of the history of the Pyramids while making use of light and sound effects.
On the reasons that pushed the Egyptian company of Light and Sound to reach an agreement with the Prisme company, Saad noted that the sound and light techniques used to operate the show have not been updated since 2005, making it necessary to upgrade them.
He noted that the company was going to do such an upgrade in 2010 with its own financial resources, but when the 2011 revolution broke out the company’s revenues dropped which made them postpone the plans.