Poland presented the Order of Merit to Egyptian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled El-Enany and renowned Egyptologist Zahi Hawass.
El-Enany and Hawass were honoured for their efforts to boost Polish-Egyptian cooperation in archaeology and tourism and in preserving Egypt's heritage.
They received the order at a gala ceremony held at the Polish Embassy in Cairo on Sunday which was attended by Polish and Egyptian ambassadors and prominent figures.
Polish Ambassador Michał Łabenda said “It is necessary to underline that the honouring of Minister El-Enany and Hawass by Andrzej Duda, president of the Republic of Poland, must also be presented in a broader historical perspective. Given the long-lasting tradition of the bonds between Poles and Egyptians, we express the respect for Egyptian history and culture, which added to the value of our friendly relations."
Last year the Poles celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw, an event organised thanks to the hospitality of El-Enany.
The centre upholds a tradition of Polish activity in the field established by Kazimierz Michałowski and his pioneering work.
Michałowski put together the Polish-Egyptian Archaeological and Conservation Mission at the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir El-Bahari in 1961. Thanks to the joint efforts of the members of the mission as well as cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, it has become possible to share and explore further parts of the temple.
El-Enany said that Egypt and Poland have always had strong relations, with Egypt being one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with Poland in 1927.
“Poland has always been our partner in the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities in the fields of archaeology and Tourism. Poland was one of the first countries I visited after the resumption of international flights last August. I had fruitful meetings with Polish authorities and colleagues in the fields of tourism and archaeology,” he said.
"This year we celebrate the 83rd anniversary of the work of the first Polish archaeologists in Egypt that started in 1937. In December 2019, we held a temporary exhibition in Tahrir Museum celebrating the 60th anniversary of the inauguration of the Research Centre in Cairo that is affiliated to the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw."
He pointed out that" the Egyptian-Polish Archaeological Mission in coordination with their Egyptian counterparts have contributed to many archaeological discoveries and provided us with a lot of valuable information and studies.
"Among the multiple aspects of the fruitful Egyptian-Polish cooperation, it is apt mentioning that in 2017 I had the honour of attending the opening of the Sanctuary of Amun-Ra in the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir El-Bahari, Luxor, after its restoration, as well as the opening of the Villa of Birds and the New Visit Pathway in Kom El-Dekka, Alexandria.
Egypt’s relationship with Poland is as strong in the field of tourism, El-Enany said.
"Poland is one of the top 10 ranking source markets. Egypt received over 400,000 Polish tourists in 2019," he added.
International flights resumed after a six-month suspension due to COVID-19. Poland placed Egypt in the green travel zone and flights resumed to Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada and Marsa Allam in August.
Hawass said Egypt and Poland have been cooperating extensively in the field of archaeology and training archaeologists.