Egypt derides '7 Wonders of World' contest





Egypt is scoffing at a global contest to name the new seven wonders of the world, saying it is a disgrace that the ancient Pyramids of Giza — the only surviving structure from the traditional list of architectural marvels — must compete for a spot.

Top Egyptian officials have criticized the popular contest that urges people around the world to vote for their top sites from a list of 21 finalists that lumps the pyramids with upstart wonders like the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower and Peru's Machu Picchu.

The pyramids are "living in the hearts of people around the globe, and don't need a vote to be among the world wonders," said the head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, according to the state-run Middle East News Agency.

Egyptian officials refused to meet with the organizer of the "New 7 Wonders of the World" contest [http://www.new7wonders.com], the Swiss adventurer Bernard Weber, when he visited Egypt earlier this month, said the contest's spokeswoman Tia B. Viering. When Weber tried to hold a press conference near the pyramids, she said, police shut it down.

Choosing a new roster of world wonders has attracted ongoing interest over the years: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites includes 830 selections.

Weber started his project in 1999, collecting nearly 200 nominations. That list was eventually narrowed to 21 by a panel of architectural experts, chaired by former UNESCO chief Federico Mayor.

But Weber wanted the masses to pick the top seven. People can vote on the Internet, by phone or by sending a cell phone text message until July 6. The seven winners will be announced on the symbolic date of July 7.

Half of the revenues raised by the campaign will go toward restoring historic sites, including the Bamiyan Buddha statue in Afghanistan, which was destroyed by the Taliban regime.


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