Egypt opens museum for Nobel laureate Mahfouz after long delay

Egypt on Sunday opened a museum commemorating internationally renowned writer and Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz after a 13-year delay.

Mahfouz, the first and so far only Arab to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, died in 2006 aged 94. That year, Egyptian authorities decided to set up a museum in his honour. But there were repeated delays, with media reports blaming governmental bureaucracy and the unrest that hit Egypt following the 2011 uprising.

On Sunday, Egyptian Culture Minister Inas Abdel Dayem and Antiquity Minister Khaled el-Enani opened the museum, housed in a renovated 18th-century building in Islamic Cairo, where most of Mahfouz's literary works are set. The site in historic Cairo's al-Azhar quarter has been chosen for the museum because it lies near the house where Mahfouz was born in December 1911, the Antiquity Ministry said in a statement.

Mahfouz wrote 35 novels and dozens of collections of short stories, as well as plays. Most of his works have been made into popular films.

The museum displays published editions of Mahfouz's books, their translations and some of his personal belongings. Also on show are awards he received during his long literary career and manuscripts of some of his works.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1988.

In 1994, an Islamist militant attacked Mahfouz with a knife outside his Nile-side home in Cairo. The stabbing seriously impaired Mahfouz's ability to write. But Mahfouz remained active until shortly before his death, contributing a regular column to the state-run newspaper al-Ahram. (dpa)