Egypt's Minister of Culture Ines Abdel-Dayem and her French counterpart Françoise Nyssen inaugurated a historical exhibition in Paris last week to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Suez Canal.
The exhibition, titled The Great Epic of the Suez Canal: From the Pharaohs to the 21st Century, takes up two floors at the Institut Du Monde Arabe, presenting a range of manuscripts, maps, models, miniatures, paintings, old press excerpts and rare films.
Around 170 items are on display reflecting the history of the canal, starting with the reign of Sesostris III, 4,000 years ago.
The exhibition also features the recorded speech of President Gamal Abdel-Nasser, in which he announced the nationalization of the Canal in 1956.
Nasser can also be heard announcing the October War, Egypt’s control of the two banks of the canal and its reopening to international traffic.
The recent expansion of the canal according to the plans of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi also feature in the show.
Also present at the opening in Paris were French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian, Egypt's Ambassador to Paris Ihab Badawi, and President of the National Center for Translation Anwar Moughith.
Egyptian-French cultural ties
During the event, Abdel Dayem met with Nyssen for discussions on ways of supporting cooperation and cultural and artistic exchange between the two countries, as well as preparations for declaring 2019 the year of Egyptian-French culture.
In her speech at the opening, Abdel-Dayem said the celebration reflects the rich history between Egypt and France, stressing the strong ties between the two nations on the artistic, cultural and political levels.
She said the Suez Canal plays an important role in communications between East and West and is a symbol of narrowing the gaps between peoples, not only commercially, but also on the levels of science and civilization.
Following its opening in Paris, the exhibition is due to move to the Museum of History in Marseille on 17 October, where the collection will be on display until 31 March next year.
The show's final stop will be in Egypt, where the Ministry of Antiquities will provide space at the Museum of Civilization in Cairo.
During her trip to Paris, Abdel-Dayem also attended the inauguration of an exhibition titled Our Life through Colours by Egyptian artist Noha Khalil at the Egyptian Cultural Centre in Paris. Khalil is the wife of Hisham Al-Moqawad, Egypt's deputy ambassador to Paris.
Abdel-Dayem was accompanied by a number of officials and diplomats, such as Serinad Gamil, the Egyptian Consul General in Paris, and Dr. Hani Hilal, former Minister of Higher Education, as well as French, Arab and foreign art lovers.
An ancient photo depicts the digging of the Suez Canal (Photo: Courtesy of the Ministry of Culture Media Office)
Samples of the documents on display at the exhibition (Photo: Courtesy of the Ministry of Culture Media Office)
The paintings on show at the Suez Canal exhibition in Paris (Photo: courtesy of the Ministry of Culture Media Office)
Culture Minister Ines Abdel-Dayem with Egyptian artist Noha Khalil (Photo: Courtesy of the Ministry of Culture Media Office)