Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi with UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova at a meeting in Cairo on 15 February 2017 (Photo courtesy of the presidency)
Egypt aims to establish more museums in order to preserve its diverse heritage, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi told UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova at a Wednesday meeting in Cairo, according to presidency spokesman Alaa Youssef.
Youssef said that the plans are part of the country's programme for comprehensive cultural development.
El-Sisi also awarded Bokova the First Order of Egypt Award in appreciation for her recent efforts in facilitating several projects by the UNESCO in Egypt.
The UNESCO director-general expressed her gratitude for the award, which she said is a major honour for the organisation and reflects the special relationship between Egypt and UNESCO.
She also praised El-Sisi's statements on the UNESCO at the UN General Assembly last year in New York, where he affirmed Egypt's appreciation for the role the UNESCO plays worldwide.
El-Sisi said that Egypt also aims to amend religious discourse in order to uphold the principles of coexistence, tolerance, and the acceptance of others, which would combat terrorism and extremism on an intellectual level.
El-Sisi said that terrorism has nothing to do with the core of religion and its benevolent principles, adding that terrorism is built on rotten ideas that aim to instigate divisions and destroy humanity’s common heritage.
Bokova said she recognises Egypt's role in fighting extremism and terrorism on all levels, particularly in educating youth which is needed to accomplish security, stability, and development.
She also mentioned several projects to which UNESCO is contributing, including resurrecting Cairo's Museum of Islamic Art (MIA), contributing to building the Nubian Museum in Upper Egypt's Aswan, and re-establishing Fustat's National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC).
The Islamic Museum was re-inaugurated by El-Sisi in January 2016 following a two year closure after the museum was damaged in a 2014 car bombing targeting the nearby Cairo Security Directorate building.
The blast destroyed the façade of the building, several columns, display cases and artefacts, as well as the nearby Egyptian National Library and Archives building.
Egypt has received grants by foreign allies, including EGP 50 million from the United Arab Emirates to restore the museum, in collaboration with Egyptian and foreign experts from Italy, Germany and the United States.
UNESCO donated $100,000 for the restoration of the museum’s laboratories, while the Italian government contributed €800,000 for the purchase of new display cases and training courses for the museum’s curators.
Bokova is set to inaugurate the NMEC on Wednesday.
According to UNESCO, the NMEC is the first museum in the Arab world and the only museum in Egypt that gives an overview of Egypt’s history from ancient times until today. The project is directed by Egypt with the technical support from UNESCO.