Zahi Hawass - Controversies


Hawass has been widely accused of domineering behaviour, forbidding archaeologists to announce their own findings, and courting the media for his own gain after they were denied access to archaeological sites because, according to Hawass, they were too amateurish. A few, however, have said in interviews that some of what Hawass has done for the field was long overdue. Hawass has typically ignored or dismissed his critics, and when asked about it he indicated that what he does is for the sake of Egypt and the preservation of its antiquities. Hawass helped to institute a systematic program for the preservation and restoration of historical monuments, while training Egyptians to improve their expertise on methods of excavation, retrieval and preservation.

Criticism of Hawass increased following the protests in Egypt in 2011. The New York Times reported in a front page story in July 2011 that he receives 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."

The Times also reported that he has relationships with two American companies that do business in Egypt.

On April 17, 2011, Hawass was sentenced to jail for one year for refusing to obey a court ruling relating to a contract for the gift shop at the Egyptian Museum to a company with links to Hawass. The ruling was appealed and this specific sentence was suspended pending appeal. On April 18, 2011, the National Council of Egypt’s Administrative Court issued a decree stopping the court ruling, specifying that he would not serve any jail time, and would remain in his position as Minister of Antiquities.

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