Addressing culture under threat at the forefront of Director-General’s visit to Cairo

From 13 to 14 May, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, is undertaking a visit to Egypt, on the occasion of the Conference of “Culture under threat: the security, economic and cultural impact of antiquities theft in the Middle East”.

The Conference is organized jointly by the Antiquities Coalition (ICA) and the Egyptian Ministries of Antiquities and Foreign Affairs and held in Cairo under the patronage of UNESCO. 

The Conference aims at promoting ways in which the international community can address threats against the region’s cultural heritage and will focus on regional solutions to the growing destruction, looting, and trafficking of antiquities and the links between antiquities racketeering and terrorist financing.

In Egypt, the Director-General is expected to meet with the President, H.E. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to discuss the stakes of youth inclusion and intercultural dialogue. She will deliver a keynote speech at the Al-Azhar University on dialogue among cultures and civilizations, in the presence of scholars, intellectuals and religious leaders.

The Director-General will visit the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo, where she will launch, in cooperation with the Ministry of Antiquities, the #Unite4Heritage campaign in Egypt in the presence of the Minister of Higher Education and other national authorities, as well as the Italian Ambassador to Egypt. The campaign was first launched at the University of Baghdad in Iraq on 28 March 2015 with the objective of building support for the protection of heritage where it is threatened by sectarianism and extreme violence.  #Unite4Heritage uses the power of social networks to create a global movement with young people for them to raise their voice and take action for the safeguarding heritage under threat, in Iraq and elsewhere, providing a counter-narrative to sectarian propaganda.

Throughout the visit, the Director-General will be accompanied by the Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Egypt to UNESCO, and President of UNESCO Executive Board,  H.E Mr Mohamed Sameh Amr. She is expected to meet the Minister of Antiquities, Dr Mamdouh El-Damaty, the Minister of Higher Education and Chairperson of the Egyptian National Commission for UNESCO, Dr Al-sayed Ahmed Abdel-Khaleq, and the Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Dr Hossam el Din Mohamed Moughazi, with whom she will sign an agreement renewing the status of the Regional Centre for training and water studies in arid and semi-arid regions under the auspices of UNESCO (category 2). She will also meet the Secretary General of the Arab League, Mr Nabil Al Arabi.