Visit the great Sphinx of Giza… in China? – Al-Tahrir News Network

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You may have heard of China’s massive Window of the World theme park that features a smaller scaled replica of the Sphinx of Giza. The Egyptian landmark is one of 130 reproductions featured in the $8 million theme park. In addition to the Sphinx are the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Eiffel Tower, Stonehenge, the Taj Mahal, and the Statue of Liberty, among several others.

Group photo of visitors posing in front of the Sphinx of Giza at the Window of the World theme park (photo: gesttoutopia.com)

A visitor posing on a camel at the Window of the World theme park (photo: Flickr, Gruntzooki)

As of recent, China now officially has two renditions of the Sphinx: one smaller version that could never be mistaken for the original, but the other is built nearly to the exact specifications as the Sphinx of Giza. The smaller version often has actors who are hired to play Egyptians, complete with saddled camels.

Sphinx replica in Hebei (photo: Reuters)

The artificial monolith of the Sphinx was recently built, constructed with a reinforced steel framework and a concrete body. The replica stands at 60 metres high and 20 metres wide, approximately the same size as the original in Giza, and even features the chipped nose of the original structure. In front and on either side of the duplicate there are entrances into the Sphinx, and parts of the perimeter are scattered with merchants selling Chinese handicrafts.

Sphinx replica in Hebei (photo: Reuters)

The Window of the World theme park, the site of the smaller Sphinx, is located in the city of Shenzhen, situated in the southeastern Guangdong province in China. The newer duplicate is located in North China’s Hebei province, and is reported to have been built by a movie production company, and houses a film and TV studio inside.

Last Friday, Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said he would beseech the Egyptian delegate to UNESCO, Mohamed Sameh Amr, to file a formal complaint regarding this re-production of the Sphinx. Ibrahim clarified that, “we will address UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, to inform her that the re-production of the Sphinx harms the cultural heritage of Egypt where the statue is registered on the World Heritage List.”

The Sphinx of Giza was made a World Heritage Site in 1979, and Ibrahim’s argument is based on the UNESCO Convention signed in 1972 regarding the protection of the world’s cultural and natural heritage sites.

Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim (centre) (photo: Reuters)

It has been argued that it has historically been difficult for Chinese people to obtain travel visas, and so this park is a way for them to enjoy replicas of the world’s most famous sites without leaving the country. The moral implications of duplicating historical landmarks is yet to be determined, especially those that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.