- For the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, the BESIX-Orascom Construction Joint Venture has carried out the transport of the King Khufu Solar Boat, the oldest intact ship in the world, from the archaeological site of the Giza pyramids to a dedicated building within the Grand Egyptian Museum;
- This particularly delicate tailor-made transport operation was carried out from 5 to 7 August 2021 and required BESIX and Orascom Construction to overcome multiple challenges and rely on in-depth technical feats;
- For the Arab Republic of Egypt, the BESIX-Orascom Construction Joint Venture is in charge of the construction of the Grand Egyptian Museum, the world’s largest museum dedicated to a single civilisation.
The King Khufu Solar Boat
Inherited from ancient Egypt, the King Khufu Solar Boat is considered to be the oldest intact ship in the world. Presumably built for King Khufu, it was placed around 2500 BC in a pit at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Discovered in 1954 by the Egyptologist Kamal el-Mallakh, the King Khufu Solar Boat has been presented to the public since 1985 in the Giza Solar Boat Museum, a few metres from where it was found.
The transport operation
From 5 to 7 August 2021, the King Khufu Solar Boat was relocated from the Solar Boat Museum in Giza to a new dedicated building within the Grand Egyptian Museum complex. This extremely delicate transport operation was carried out under the responsibility of the BESIX-Orascom Construction Joint Venture and with the support of their subcontractor Sarens, in perfect cooperation with the Egyptian authorities.
- The operation began on Thursday 5 August with the careful extraction of the King Khufu Solar Boat. Weighing 45 tonnes, with a length of 43.6 metres and a width of 5.9 metres, it was lifted and installed to the centimetre in a secure 60-tonne steel cage, made to measure for the operation. This extraction was carried out by driving a self-propelled modular transporter (SPMT) into the building, in such a way as not to jeopardise the integrity of the ship, which required taking into account multiple parameters, including the relatively strong wind on the Giza plateau and very little room for manoeuvre due to the narrow structure of the existing building and the delicate archeological environment.
- The transport itself started on Friday 6 August. The convoy was fully remote-controlled and reached its destination at a speed of 1 kilometre per hour. It left the pyramid area via a narrow ramp winding between the Giza monuments and then travelled a distance of 8.5 kilometres before reaching its final destination. The route chosen, which was much longer than the bird’s-eye distance between the pyramids and the Grand Egyptian Museum, is explained by the stability of the roads used, the size of the convoy and the necessity to navigate safely through an area abounding with archeological heritage.
- On Saturday 7 August, the King Khufu Solar Boat was placed in its new dedicated building within the Grand Egyptian Museum complex. To do this, it was raised by 800-tonne crawler crane to a height of 30 metres so that it could enter through the roof of the building and be installed with centimetre accuracy in the exact position where future visitors will be able to admire it.
Pierre Sironval, Deputy CEO of BESIX Group: “BESIX Group is extremely proud of the achievement of this extraordinary and delicate operation and the excellence with which it was carried out. I would like to congratulate all our teams at BESIX and Orascom Construction, as well as the experts at Sarens. Above all, I would like to thank the Egyptian authorities for their confidence, their professionalism and their remarkably efficient collaboration with the BESIX-Orascom Construction Joint Venture teams, both for this operation and for our work on the Grand Egyptian Museum. This will be a major museum jewel for the world to which we have just added a fantastic additional piece, the world’s oldest intact ship.”
Osama Bishai, CEO of Orascom Construction: “It brings Orascom Construction great pride from the outstanding achievement of this meticulous event. Congratulations to the Orascom Construction and BESIX teams for their outstanding performance in carrying out such a challenging and delicate task to perfection, which took up to six months in preparations; working around the clock to guarantee excellence in execution. Most of all, we are proud that we are part of building a new home for the treasures of Egypt.”
The Grand Egyptian Museum complex
For the Ministry of State for Antiquities, the BESIX-Orascom Construction Joint Venture is in charge of the construction of the Grand Egyptian Museum, the world’s largest museum dedicated to a single civilisation and one of the largest constructions in Egypt since the pyramids. In addition to thousands of objects documenting the greatness of Egyptian civilisation, it will include the treasure of Tutankhamun, whose 5,300 objects will be displayed for the first time since their discovery in 1922.
The Grand Egyptian Museum is also a building of rare complexity, built on the Giza Plateau in perfect alignment and respect for the angles formed by the three pyramids. With a total surface area of 490,000 m², the building required BESIX and Orascom Construction to achieve unprecedented technical feats in the contemporary construction sector.