Egypt’s Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anany said in an interview with Xinhua that Chinese archaeologists are very interested in starting excavations in his archaeologically rich country.
“I had the honor to receive many delegations from China recently. Chinese archaeologists are very interested in starting excavations in Egypt,” the minister said.
Al-Anany, who paid an official visit to China last month, said Egyptian and Shanghai museums signed a Memory of Understanding on cultural cooperation earlier this year, adding that an Egyptian delegation from his ministry is flying to China soon to discuss mutual cooperation with their Chinese counterparts.
“We are looking forward for more collaboration with foreign archaeological institutions and more collaboration with universities,” he said.
Egypt, one of the most ancient civilizations, has been working hard to preserve its archaeological heritage and discover the secrets of the archaeology of Pharaohs and other ancient civilizations across the country in a bid to revive the country’s ailing tourism sector which has been suffering an acute recession over the past few years due to political turmoil and relevant security issues.
The North African country netted just 6.1 billion U.S. dollars in tourism revenues in 2015, a drastic downturn from 12.5 billion in 2010, according to the country’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.
Speaking about the challenges facing his ministry, Anany said the ministry’s budget has shrunk much due to the decreased number of foreign tourists after the 2011 revolution that toppled former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
“Our ministry is independent financially. We made big revenues before the January revolution in 2011. Tourism has gone down since that time and we cannot afford all our needs, this is the main problem,” the minister said. “In spite of the financial crisis that we are going through, we are still doing our best.”
Among the problems they face after the 2011 revolution, the minister said, is the illicit trafficking and the robbery of archaeological objects.
“But we are recovering now and we have retrieved hundreds of objects this year,” he said.
Anany said that he has been working hard since his appointment at the end of March this year to make attractions to foreign tourists.
Among the steps the minister has done to attract more tourists was reopening of the tombs of Nefertari and Seti I in the west bank of Luxor in Upper Egypt.
“We had more than 2,000 visitors during the last six weeks. We also offered for the first time the Luxor Pass, a pass for five days which will cost by the beginning of January next year 40 dollars for students and 80 dollars for adults by which tourists can visit all sites and museums,” he affirmed.
About the achievements of his ministry in 2016, the minister said it was a very fruitful year where the ministry has made many achievements in different fields.
“We reopened the museum of Mallawy in Minya, we reopened the museum of Kom Aushim Museum in Faiyum governorate, we opened six ancient mosques after restorations, and we are ready to open the Islamic art Museum within weeks, and partially open the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization,” Anany said.
The minster also revealed that the ministry has repatriated many stolen objects from several countries this year, adding that this month the ministry has repatriated objects from the U.S., Switzerland, the UAE, Jordan and many other countries.
Meanwhile, Anany added that the ministry started a huge project for the digital documentation of the objects kept in storerooms of the ministry.
“I hope to introduce the use of technology for the preservation of the sites,” the minister said.
About Jewish monuments and artifacts in Egypt, Anany said these objects are part of the Egyptian civilization, revealing that eight weeks after his appointment he established a committee to make a complete inventory of all Jewish collections and artifacts in the country.
“These objects and artifacts are part of the Egyptian heritage. We are going to display some Jewish artifacts in a number of exhibitions next year,” he said.
Luxor, which contains the famous King Tut tomb, was named by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) as the World Tourism Capital for 2016.
“We are going to recover because the pyramids are here, Tut is here and I am all sure that we will receive tourists from everywhere again very soon,” the minister concluded.
Source: Xinhua Jan 3