Wednesday,20 March, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1301, (23 - 29 June 2016)
Wednesday,20 March, 2019
Issue 1301, (23 - 29 June 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Dali promotes tourism

A statue by the Spanish surrealist painter has been gifted to Egypt, reports Samia Fakhry

Al-Ahram Weekly

Pope Tawadros II has been presented a statue made by Salvador Dali in recognition of Egypt being the land of peace.

Marking the ceremony, Pope Tawadros was received by Minister of Tourism Yehia Rashed, Juan-Javier Bofill, the director of the Salvador Dali exhibition in Barcelona, Bofill’s business manager, Francisco Lara Mora, and Hamdi Zaki, Egypt’s former tourism advisor to Latin America and currently an advisor to a think tank in Madrid and Barcelona.

During the meeting, Bofill presented an original statue of St George the dragon slayer made by Dali, the Spanish surrealist painter. The 80-cm statute was presented in recognition of Egypt’s role as the mother of civilisation and the land of peace, which throughout history has protected the world from barbarism — a mission that Egypt continues to embrace today.

“We chose Egypt to be the home of this statute for historical reasons, seen in the Pharaonic carvings at the Temple of Hibis in Kharga, which show Horus slaying a snake, the symbol of evil, just as St George slays the dragon and evil as well,” Lara Mora said. “Now in the 21st century, we see him as slaying ignorance.”

He added that the need for the world to turn its attention to Egypt and the need to promote the journey of the Holy Family led Bofill to dedicate the statute to Egypt. Valued at 1.9 million euros, the statue is part of Bofill’s collection and was part of a successful exhibition in Brazil.

Zaki said that Bofill was inspired to give the statue to Egypt by his friend Lara Mora. Of Dali’s 650 pieces scattered around the world, Bofill owns 44, including two pieces showing St George the dragon slayer. He gave one of the pieces, valued at 2.25 million euros, to the Barcelona Cathedral and the other to Egypt.

Rashed said that religious tourism is flourishing around the world. Some 10 million visitors come to Spain every year for religious tourism. “And we have the journey of the Holy Family, who lived in Egypt for three and a half years,” Rashed said.

He added that in agreement with Pope Tawadros, an international festival will be held to re-enact the course of the Holy Family’s travels in Egypt. Thousands of church representatives from around the world will be invited, as well as figures with influence on travel decisions.

Pope Tawadros, who is concerned about tourism, suggested the slogan, “Christ: The first tourist in Egypt”. During the festival, a 3.2-metre replica of Dali’s St. George statue will be unveiled.

The festival will also see one million Egyptian children from the land of peace and the cradle of civilisation and religion send a message over social media to tens of millions of children around the world, inviting them to take part in a contest by submitting an essay or artwork on Egypt.

The Ministry of Tourism will award 1,000 prizes to winners, including replicas of Tutankhamen’s treasures and the St George statue. The best 100 submissions from 50 nations will win a trip to Egypt.

The festival is expected to improve Egypt’s image and bolster tourism, as well as supply work to tourism industries that have been greatly affected.

Notably, Madrid normally receives less than 1.5 million tourists in six months but a few years ago, with the visit by the Roman Catholic Pope Francis, 1.5 million Europeans visited Madrid in six days in August, bringing in $180 million. Currently some 70 million tourists visit Spain annually, spending more than $80 billion in the country.

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