A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, April 15, 2011

Zahi Hawass: Going Too Far at the Wrong Moment?

This was tweeted today by @Egyptocracy (who also blogs) via twitpic:

"Pharaohs ruled then. He rules now."  I've noted previously the instances of Zahi Hawass' tendency towards self-promotion overreach. But in an era when so many of the key figures of the old regime are in Tora Prison, one of the few to land on his feet in the transitional government (due to a timely resignation, allowing his recent Second Coming), this may not be the best time for Hawass' trademark self-promotion. And by "trademark," I do not mean the term figuratively. Zahi Hawass' name has been trademarked. Trademark data is here.

Having already franchised his signature hat, he now has apparently also franchised his name for a line of men's clothing, Egypt's tweeters have been having fun with this today, but also a bit of outrage at the fact that some of the portfolio pictures were taken with the King Tut artifacts from the Egyptian Museum. The trademark seems to be held by an organizer of the recent Tut tour in the US. And the line will have a shop at Harrod's sometime this year.

Most of the commentary so far has been on Twitter, but Zeinobia has done a blog post on it. As she notes, to take photos in the Egyptian Museum you need special permission of the Minister of Antiquities. Hawass was probably given permission because — oh yes, he's Minister of Antiquities. I know, when President Obama has one of your hats (right), and you have your own show on the History Channel, when you're not being on the Discovery Channel, the National Geographic Channel, and, if any time is left over, showing up to be Minister of Antiquities, it can be easy to overreach a bit. I've noted in the past that Hawass' high profile has probably helped increase interest in Egyptology. But at  the moment, with Egypt on alert for conflicts of interest, might not be the time to open that branch at Harrod's.

The Twitter commenters are having a field day (Check out #Egypt; #Antiquities; and #Jan25 as well as the obvious #ZahiHawass for some of the commentary. I do hope he realizes the rules have changed, and serving in the Cabinet while franchising yourself (via using the antiquities as part of his branding) may not sit well with the new Egypt.

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