The Supreme Council of Antiquities, part of the Culture Ministry, is preparing to prequalify contractors for the main construction contract on its $500m Grand Egyptian Museum, near Cairo.  

Contractors will be invited to prequalify for the contract in March, ahead of tenders being issued in the summer.

The client hopes to have a contractor in place so construction work can start by the end of October. The fast-track project involves completing 15 per cent of the construction work by January 2011, with a phased handover starting in 2012.

The 120,000-square-metre project, on a site next to the pyramids of Giza, will ultimately house 100,000 artefacts and include a children’s museum, conference centre and workshop space.

Once complete, the ministry says the museum will be the largest and most important Pharaonic museum in the world, the largest museum in Egypt and one of the world’s leading scientific, historical and archaeological study centres.

It is hoping to draw an estimated 5 million visitors a year.

The design team is made up of Ireland’s Heneghan Peng Architects and two UK-based firms, Arup and Buro Happold.

A joint venture of US-based Hill International and the local Ehaf Consulting Engineers was appointed as the project manager in early February (MEED 4:2:10).

The Museum of Antiquities in Cairo displays a collection of approximately 120,000 artefacts, with a large percentage of its collection still locked in storerooms.