In Egypt, the Director-General highlights the power of cultural heritage to foster tolerance, belonging and social inclusion
On 15 February, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, opened the largest exhibition hall that has been recently rehabilitated at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (NMEC) with the Egyptian Prime Minister Mr Sherif Ismael and Minister of Antiquities, H.E. Dr Khaled El Enany.
“The story of Egypt is a story of cultural renewal, when people build on the richness and strength of their cultural traditions, to foster resilience, cohesion, innovation and creativity,” stated the Director-General in her speech inaugurating several new areas of the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, including the reception area, the temporary exhibition hall, laboratories, theatre and meeting room.
“This is an important step towards the museum’s completion, and a key example of successful international cooperation,” said Irina Bokova, noting that the origins of this museum stretch back to the early 1960s, when the international community joined hands to save the monuments of Nubia. It was established following a decision by the UNESCO General Conference. “This movement was revolutionary as it sparked a new way of thinking about humanity and its common heritage. We need this same spirit today, the same audacity to respond to new threats against heritage, against our common humanity,” she continued.
The Director-General underscored the importance of museums to foster an awareness of our shared history and to transmit common values. “This is the spirit of UNESCO’s Recommendation concerning the Protection and Promotion of Museums and Collections, adopted in November 2015,” she said, highlighting the need to promote the role of museums to foster the ideals of tolerance and mutual understanding.
Following this opening ceremony, on 16 February, the Director-General will visit the Abu Simbel Complex. The complex is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site inscribed in 1979 known as the "Nubian Monuments", which run from Abu Simbel downriver to Philae. Irina Bokova will also visit the Nubian Museum in Aswan, to reinforce the long-standing cooperation between Egypt and UNESCO. The Museum, designed by architect Mahmood el Akim, was inaugurated on 23 November 1997. She will also attend a sound and light show in Philae Temple.
On 17 February, the Director-General will be in Luxor to visit the Valley of the Queens and Kings. The Valley contains 63 tombs for Kings and Queens over a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC. While in Luxor, the Director-General will pay a visit to the Stoppelaere’s House, New Gourna Village, located on the West Bank of the Nile River within the World Heritage property of Ancient Thebes in Egypt. UNESCO is pioneering an initiative aiming at making the most of the pioneering ideas and philosophy of Hassan Fathy's work and reinforcing its relevance to contemporary sustainability concerns, initiated in 2009 for the safeguarding of this important site. The Village of New Gourna was designed and built between 1946 and 1952 by the famous Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy (1900-1989). The Director-General will also visit Karnak, which is part of the monumental ancient city of Thebes.
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