Egypt’s first ticking clock ticks once more

CAIRO — The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has lately introduced the completion of the restoration, upkeep and growth works at Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi Citadel in Cairo, together with the restart of the citadel’s clock tower, Egypt’s first ticking clock, after many years of nonoperation.

In a assertion revealed on its Facebook web page Sept. 16, the ministry introduced that “the clock has been repaired by Egyptian craftsmen after years of nonoperation. The trials of the clock’s automatic winding [mechanism] have begun in order to ensure its continuous, uninterrupted operation.”

It continued, “The restoration of the clock tower has been completed, and the colors have been enhanced to give it back its original luster. Maintenance and reinstallation of the stained glass panels and the rims of the circular iron columns located on the upper part of the column were also completed.”

Egypt obtained the clock in 1846 as a reward from the King of France, Louis Philippe, to Muhammad Ali Pasha, then-ruler of Egypt. It was positioned inside a metallic tower embellished with inscriptions and stained glass panels, within the middle of the northwestern hallway of the Mosque of Muhammad Ali. 

The clock was imagined to be positioned contained in the palace of Muhammad Ali Pasha within the Shubra space, but it surely was saved within the palace till it was moved to the mosque in the course of the reign of Khedive Abbas I in 1856.

The clock was a return reward to Muhammad Ali Pasha’s reward to France, which was the Luxor Obelisk that dates again to the period of Ramses II, positioned within the Concorde Square in Paris.

Osama Talaat, head of the Islamic and Coptic Antiquities Sector on the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, informed Al-Monitor that the upkeep and restoration of the clock tower have succeeded regardless of their issue, noting that the clock’s operation could be formally introduced within the coming weeks after placing the ultimate touches to the upkeep works.

In November 2020, the French Embassy in Cairo introduced that Francois Simon-Fustier, an skilled in watch manufacturing, was despatched to Cairo, upon Egypt’s request, to look at the opportunity of restoring the clock and put together a report about it.

On Dec. 1, 2020, Simon-Fustier, who had simply begun his job in Egypt, posted on Facebook snapshots of Cairo from the highest of the clock tower.

Talaat defined that the French skilled was employed as a result of the clock is French-made, and French specialists have nice information on how you can take care of it.

He mentioned that Fustier despatched a report back to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities relating to the situation of the clock and the necessity to restore it.

However, Talaat mentioned that the duty of repairing the clock was finally assigned to an Egyptian skilled from Luxor, upon his request. The skilled communicated to the ministry the issues that hindered the clock’s operation, and the ministry determined to present him the chance of repairing it.

Talaat famous, “After several months of work, the clock’s original luster has returned, and its bells could be turned on again. The maintenance team also thought up a plan for automatic winding of the clock without human assistance.”

He added, “The clock had gone defunct due to the lack of periodic maintenance for long periods in previous times, apart from the need to charge it constantly and to wind it twice a day.”

According to Egyptian media, this was not the primary try to restore the ticking clock. In 1943, King Farouk ordered its reparation, but it surely stopped working three days later. In 1984, it was repaired once more, but it surely broke down after a number of days and stopped working till now.

Egyptian historian Bassam el-Shammaa informed Al-Monitor over the telephone in regards to the historic significance of the clock, noting that the Egyptian authorities ought to use the restoration and upkeep of the clock to advertise tourism, particularly in France, as it’s of French origin, to not point out the French curiosity in antiquities and Egyptian historical past.

Shammaa praised the capabilities of the Egyptian manpower and experience, which had been in a position to restore life to the ticking clock after many years of nonoperation.

During a tour to examine the restoration and maintenace works at Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi Citadel and the Mosque of Muhammad Ali in mid-September, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled al-Anani mentioned that the Egyptian authorities is in search of to finish the works and develop companies within the area to advance the tourism and antiquities sectors. 

According to Anani, the federal government seeks to advertise Egypt’s pioneering function as a significant fashionable and sustainable vacationer vacation spot, by means of its wealthy and numerous vacationer, pure, human and archaeological assets and parts, and to protect the distinctive Egyptian cultural heritage for future generations.

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