UK restores Egypt’s Islamic relics

22-01-2019 11:22 AM

Madeleine Nader

A delegation of experts from Egypt, Tunisia and Sudan has visited the Mamluk Minbars of Cairo and celebrated the success of restoration work conducted on it as part of UK’s Cultural Protection Fund.

The Cultural Protection Fund is currently investing over GBP3m in six projects across Egypt to create sustainable opportunities for economic and social development while protecting heritage. These projects bring together international and local experts including from Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the Egyptian Heritage Rescue Foundation, University of Oxford, the Institute of Development Studies of University of Sussex, Environmental Quality International (EQI), the British Museum, and the Levantine Foundation.

The GBP 30m Fund is co-funded by the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture Media (DCMS) and Sport and is delivered in partnership with the British Council in Cairo. It supports local initiatives to protect at-risk cultural heritage, including monuments, archaeology, museums and libraries, and also aims to train archaeologists and prevent looting and illegal trafficking. The Fund is currently supporting 51 projects in twelve countries across the Middle East and North Africa.

Last week, experts from across the region gathered in Cairo to learn from the success of projects which have so far included restoring Mamluk Minbars in Cairo, and a traditional rock-salt mosque in Siwa.

British Ambassador to Egypt Sir Geoffrey Adams said: “Tourists across the world come to Egypt to enjoy its rich history and heritage. I am delighted the British government is investing in restoring part of Egypt’s heritage through the Cultural Protection Fund which brings together British, Egyptian and international expertise.”

Director of British Council Elizabeth White said: “The British Council is proud to work along with DCMS and with our partners in Egypt on projects aimed at protecting and preserving cultural heritage. In every country, this matters; in Egypt, with this country’s incomparable cultural riches, the work is crucial. We are delighted to welcome project partners from across the region this week.”

For his part, Abdelhamid Salah, Chairman of the Egyptian Heritage Rescue Foundation said: “The recent thefts of objects of cultural heritage, especially those of Islamic heritage and Mamluk minibars, served as a warning to Egyptian institutions and the international community. The initiative of the Egyptian Heritage Rescue Foundation’s to rescue these platforms coincided with British Council’s objectives for awarding grants to cultural heritage preservation projects. Thanks to the efforts of both parties and partners, the Mamluk restoration project is now an important scientific and strategic model for protecting heritage not only to the Egyptian society but also to the international community.”

Watani International

22 January 2019

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