From 14 to 18 February UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova is visiting Egypt where she is expected to tour archaeological sites and museums. She is also scheduled to meet President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and the minister of education.
Bokova is to open the country’s largest exhibition hall, recently refurbished, at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC). Heading the event will be Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany, Minister of Culture Helmi Al-Namnam and the new Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar.
NMEC is the first museum in Egypt and the rest of the Arab world that gives an overview of all eras of Egyptian civilisation. It is under Egypt’s auspices with technical support from UNESCO.
Bokova visited the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) on Tuesday. The museum was opened on 18 January by Al-Sisi after two years of restoration and rehabilitation works. The MIA was damaged in 2014 and UNESCO helped rebuild MIA with $100,000 while the United Arab Emirates made a grant of LE50 million in collaboration with the Ministry of Antiquities to rescue the MIA and its priceless collection that reflects the glory of Islamic civilisation.
Other countries, NGOs and the private sector provided additional support. The Italian government gave €800,000 to buy new showcases and provide training for the museum’s curators. The American Research Centre in Cairo in collaboration with the Swiss government contributed LE1 million to restore the museum’s façade, and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, together with German and Austrian authorities, helped train museum curators and restorers.
This is Bokova’s third visit to the MIA. Her first was in 2014 when the MIA was damaged by a bomb explosion at the adjacent Cairo Security Directorate and the second was last year when she inspected restoration work and launched the second phase of the UNESCO campaign #Unite4Heritage to renew the alliance between society, youth and heritage. The first phase was launched in March 2015 in Baghdad.
In Cairo, Bokova will inaugurate the new UNESCO Cairo office. The new premise was made possible thanks to donations by Egyptian authorities.
In Egypt, Bokova is to visit Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel where she will tour the World Heritage Site of Abu Simbel, the Nubia Museum. Nubian monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae were inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979.
In Luxor, along with El-Enany, Bokova is to pay a visit to the Valleys of the Kings and Queen on Luxor’s west bank as well as inaugurate Stoppelaere’s House, a masterpiece of 20th century architecture created by renowned Egyptian architect Hassan Fathi. The house was restored within the Theban necropolis preservation initiative in collaboration with the Ministry of Antiquities, Basel University and the Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation.