On 12 March 2013, on the second day of her official visit to Egypt, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, met with Mr. Mohamed Kamel Amr, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Mohamed Ibrahim Ali Sayed, Minister of State for Antiquities Affairs.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed his wish to deepen cooperation between UNESCO and Egypt drawing on the longstanding relationship between the country and the Organization. He voiced his determination to pursue cooperation in particular in the areas of education, sciences and culture. In this respect, Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr raised his concern for the long-term protection and preservation of the Palestinian cultural heritage and stated the commitment of his country to facilitating UNESCO’s efforts.
The Minister of Antiquities recalled UNESCO’s assistance in the International Campaign for the Establishment of the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization and called for the Organization’s continued engagement in building the capacities of the Museum’s professionals as well as in ensuring the sustainable conservation of objects.
In this context, the Minister underlined the need to design a fundraising strategy with a view to complete works at the Museum. The Director-General reassured the Minister that UNESCO will support Egypt by all means and deploy its expertise and efforts in these directions. Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Ali Sayed also pleaded for UNESCO’s enhanced involvement in the restoration of the Old Cairo district, notably the iconic historical Al Moez Street.
The importance of the adaptation of the provisions of UNESCO 1970 Convention to combat illicit trafficking in cultural objects was also identified as a major priority of the government’s action in the area of culture. Antiquities Minister Mohamed Ibrahim Ali Sayed called on UNESCO to assist his Ministry in revising national legislation related to the protection of cultural objects against its illicit trafficking in line with the provisions of the UNESCO 1970 Convention and to sustain the Ministry’s efforts for capacity-building and training in this domain. The building of capacities of culture professionals was also highlighted as an urgent area of future cooperation between UNESCO and Egypt.
At the outset of the meeting, the Director-General visited the premises of the Ministry of Antiquities and the Mohamed Ali Mosque within Cairo’s Fortress, as well as the recent exhibition on Sultan Mohamed Ali’s coaches.