Zahi Hawass, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Emeritus, is still making news in Egypt

Wednesday, July 27, 2011 – 14:59

Since 2002, revenue from overseas exhibitions of rare artifacts has gone to the family of toppled President Hosni Mubarak, an Egyptian antiquities official alleged Tuesday.

Abdel Rahman al-Aidy, head of the Central Department for the Artifacts of Central Egypt, said during a press conference on Tuesday that the attorney general had yet to take action on 21 reports Aidy filed calling for an investigation into well-known former Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass and his aides.

He said he had prepared a list of the “five chief corrupt figures at the Supreme Council of Antiquities,” and added that he will file a report against them this week.

Meanwhile, Hawass has denied the accusation, saying a King Tut exhibition in the US generated US$70 million for Egypt, funds he said were used to finance the construction of the Grand Egyptian Museum. ...

Read the whole thing here.

At NGS, Zahi Hawass is officially history

See National Geographic’s official page here.

According to last week’s story in The New York Times:

… National Geographic says it pays Mr. Hawass to advise it on major discoveries and help shape its policies on antiquities issues. It says it has never received preferential access to archaeological sites or discoveries.

If that’s really why our Society was paying him, then why have we suddenly stopped?

Even though he just lost his job as the chief gatekeeper for Egypt’s antiquities, Hawass is still fully capable of providing us with expert advice for $200,000 per year.

Zahi “The Boomerang” Hawass

He’s back.
Which proves, yet again:
There’s no show like The Zahi Show.

 

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 As for Zahi’s stated intention to “temporarily retire” as a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence — well, we’re not holding our breath. We suspect he’ll find a way to “focus on protecting antiquities” and collect whatever annual honoraria / consulting fee / retainer / tip / baksheesh our Society continues to pay him. (According to The New York Times, that payment has been as high as $200,000 per year.)

 

Zahi Hawass doubled down on a dictator — and lost

Why was Zahi Hawass — a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence — fired on Sunday as Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities?

Here’s one small, but telling, reason: On February 6, 2011, Hawass appeared on the BBC to deliver a passionate defense of Hosni Mubarak, who, at the time, was days away from being forced to step down as the President of Egypt.

“[Hawass] was the Mubarak of antiquities,” said Nora Shalaby, an activist and archaeologist. “He acted as if he owned Egypt’s antiquities, and not that they belonged to the people of Egypt.”

The Ghost of Mubarak haunts Zahi Hawass

Egypt’s Iconic Antiquities Chief Fired

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By The Associated Press
Published: July 17, 2011 at 6:08 PM ET

Zahi Hawass, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and Egypt's former Minister of Antiquities

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s antiquities minister, whose trademark Indiana Jones hat made him one the country’s best known figures around the world, was fired Sunday after months of pressure from critics who attacked his credibility and accused him of having been too close to the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Zahi Hawass, long chided as publicity loving and short on scientific knowledge, lost his job along with about a dozen other ministers in a Cabinet reshuffle meant to ease pressure from protesters seeking to purge remnants of Mubarak’s regime.

“He was the Mubarak of antiquities,” said Nora Shalaby, an activist and archaeologist. “He acted as if he owned Egypt’s antiquities, and not that they belonged to the people of Egypt.” …

Read the whole thing here.

Question is: How long before Zahi “steps down” as a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence?

Zahi Hawass says he will lose his job as Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities

Egypt’s Prime Minister Essam Sharaf began a “sweeping cabinet shuffle on Sunday in a bid to appease protesters angry over the pace of reform.” 

Zahi Hawass — Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities and a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence — says he will not survive the shuffle.  

Details here & here.

Then again, we’ve seen this show before.

Zahi Hawass to “resign temporarily” as National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence

According to a front-page story in the national edition of today’s New York Times, Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s embattled Minister of Antiquities, “has decided to resign temporarily as a National Geographic explorer [Explorer-in-Residence] so that he can focus on protecting antiquities.”

 

Revolution Dims Star Power of Egypt’s Antiquities Chief

By Kate Taylor

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.

Egypt's former President Hosni Mubarak & Dr. Zahi Hawass

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.

National Geographic first brought Mr. Hawass on as an explorer-in-residence, one of 16 it has around the world, in 2001 when he was director of the Giza pyramids. He has appeared in numerous National Geographic films about ancient Egypt, and the organization publishes some of his books and arranges his speaking engagements, for which he asks $15,000.

It is not clear how the National Geographic payments compare in size to Mr. Hawass’s government salary, which he would not disclose. National Geographic says it pays Mr. Hawass to advise it on major discoveries and help shape its policies on antiquities issues. It says it has never received preferential access to archaeological sites or discoveries.

Mr. Hawass said his impartiality was evident when the Discovery Channel won out over National Geographic in a bid to make films about DNA research on royal mummies.

“All proposals about films go before a committee,” he said in an e-mail, “and decisions are made to maximize both the scientific results and the profit for Egypt.”

But Mr. Hawass also said this week that he has decided to resign temporarily as a National Geographic explorer so that he can focus on protecting antiquities.

Read the whole thing here.

We welcome Zahi’s resignation for many reasons. Then again, his saying that “he has decided to resign temporarily” could mean almost anything.

For instance:

• He’s made the decision, but hasn’t actually resigned yet. And tomorrow is a new day. He could always change his mind.

• He resigns temporarily. Headlines! He returns to his ministerial position next Monday because… because the antiquities have been protected. Headlines! Egypt’s Prime Minister Essam Sharaf announces his cabinet overhaul later this week — and Zahi remains standing. Or he gets tapped for an even more powerful position. Headline: Zahi Hawass: Survivor. And so on.

• His “temporary” departure is really permanent, and he knows it. But by saying “temporary,” he makes it sound as though duty calls, and that he needs to devote more of his time and energy to protect Egypt’s antiquities, legacy, and honor.  Which makes us wonder: Why in the world would Zahi walk away from a lucrative deal with NGS (the Times says as much as $200,000 per year) when his arrangement with our Society, best we can tell, requires very little of Zahi’s time or attention?  

Dear John,
Why is Zahi Hawass resigning? 

The Way of The Strongman

Zahi Hawass

“My critics are trying to use the revolution against me, but in [these folders] I have plenty of information on them too.

We’ll see who comes out on top.”

— Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities & a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, responding to a wave of recent allegations about his corruption and criminal activity.

Wow.

Not: My critics are wrong. I am unjustly accused. Justice will prevail.

But rather: You screw with me, and I will bury you.

Pharaoh would be so proud.

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Dear John,
Not much “inspiring people to care about the planet” from Zahi.
Why, again, is being a bully, a Mubarak crony, and a demagogue
consistent with our Society’s mission?
And why are we paying him?
Please give us a call & let us know: 202-643-7430.
Operators are standing by….

Whiplash

Zahi Hawass


“Egypt has finally broken free from the prejudice that modern Egypt is the same as ancient Egypt. When people think of Egypt now, they will no longer only be thinking about camels and pyramids. Instead they will think about democracy, freedom….”

Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities & a National Geographic Explorer in Residence, in Al Masry Al Youm, April 25, 2011

Less than a month later:

“We have always needed a strongman; without one you have chaos.”

Zahi Hawass, in an interview with The Guardian, May 19, 2011

Will the real Zahi Hawass please stand up?

First, Zahi Hawass — a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residencedefended Hosni Mubarak on international TV.

Then, he pivots, and claims he embraces the Egyptian revolution and democracy.

But is Zahi up to his old tricks again? Is he saying one thing to an English-speaking audience, and something else to the Arabic one? Shahira Amin, a former anchor on Egyptian state TV who resigned in protest during the uprising, provides this behind-the-scenes peek at one of National Geographic’s marquee personalities:

“These sons of bitches have destroyed Egypt.”

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Dear John,
Any thoughts?


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