UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay made an official visit to Egypt from 3 to 5 April at the invitation of the Egyptian authorities to celebrate the country’s rich historical heritage and support its preservation.
Alongside Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, the Director-General attended the spectacular procession organized for the transfer of 22 royal mummies from the National Museum of Cairo to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization.
In a bilateral meeting, the Director-General congratulated the President on the success of this historic ceremony, which united the people of Egypt and shared these tutelary figures of ancient Egypt with the world, and on the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities’ supportive museum policy.
The Director-General and the President shared their views on the importance of heritage, be it that of ancient Egypt or of the successive ages that have marked the country’s historical, cultural and religious diversity.
The Director-General and President Sisi agreed to continue to work together to address the interconnected challenges of cultural heritage preservation and development, particularly with regard to urban development and sustainable tourism.
During their meeting, Ms Azoulay reaffirmed UNESCO’s support in handling the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on education and announced the implementation of two literacy and distance learning projects that will benefit women in particular.
The Director-General went on to visit the World Heritage site of Historic Cairo, with its remarkable architecture and Museum of Islamic Art, which was recently renovated with UNESCO’s support.
She then visited the Giza Plateau, an emblematic part of the World Heritage site of Memphis and its Necropolis-the Pyramid Fields from Giza to Dahshur, as well as Saqqara, where she witnessed archaeological excavations that have recently yielded major discoveries.
In Alexandria, the Director-General was able to experience the city’s rich multicultural heritage, including a visit to the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue, recently rehabilitated by the Government.
The Director-General’s visit ended on the trail of the Nubia Campaign, launched by UNESCO in 1960. In Aswan, she was able to admire the Temple of Philae, saved from the waters during this campaign, and the archaeological treasures of Upper Egypt preserved in the Nubia Museum, closely associated with UNESCO.
It was in Egypt, with the rescue of the temples of Philae, Abu Simbel and many others, that the foundations of UNESCO’s work to safeguard the cultural heritage of humanity were laid. This collective effort continues to inspire us today. UNESCO is following the path begun in Egypt in the 1960s well into our 21st century, enriching it with new dimensions. In campaigns such as Reviving the Spirit of Mosul, we now promote the protection of cultural diversity and education alongside the same ambition for heritage.
Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General
The Director-General’s official visit marked the common will to reinforce the historic strategic relationship between Egypt and UNESCO.