By Ahmed Mansour
Photographed by Hayssam Samir
Egyptian Prince Abbas Helmi, grandson of Khedive Abbas and son of Prince Mohamed Abdulmonem, finalized the restoration of Al-Manial Palace and declared it open for visitors on March 1. The grand palace, located on Al-Roda Island, had been under restoration for over 10 years. Its doors are once again open, revealing the grandiose of the past as it remains a testament to the old ways of Egypt’s royalty.
During the event, Prince Helmi signed a contract with Jordanian Princess Dana Feras, the vice president of Jordan’s Petro National Trust, who will oversee the preservation of Al-Manial Palace.
“Today is a day to always remember because we have taken a huge step in the right direction,” said Prince Helmi at the reopening. “What we did today is not only declare the opening of the museum, we have started a great cultural relationship between Egypt and Jordan, but we will not stop here.”
With the help of Princess Dana, Prince Helmi plans to hire experts from around the world to train the museum’s staff and equip them with the knowledge needed to maintain, care for and preserve the monuments. There are also plans to hold cultural events between Egypt and Jordan, “because there is a lot we can learn from Jordanian culture, and a lot for them to learn from us,” said Prince Helmi.
Princess Feras said she will work across regional borders in order to strengthen the role of civil society in the development process. “The best place to start is Egypt.”
Princess Feras said one of the ways to accomplish this is to revive cultural heritage, with Al-Manial Palace being a prime example. “We understand that heritage forms national identity, and without it we would be nowhere.”
The grand opening of Al-Manial Palace and its museum took place on March 1, with guests including Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb and members of the Egyptian and Jordanian royal families. The museum consists of a number of halls and reception areas, living rooms, the throne room and the Gold Hall in addition to a special museum that showcases the family’s collections as well as a palace garden containing rare plants from around the world.