Zahi Hawass to be UN ambassador for global cultural heritage

The United Nations International Federation for Peace and Sustainable Development has appointed the former Egyptian minister of antiquities Zahi Hawass as an ambassador for the global cultural heritage. This decision comes in the wake of damage to monuments in Iraq and Syria due to civil wars.

His designation cermony will be held on April 19 at the UN headquarters in New York city and will be attended by United Nations ambassadors along with the heads of American museums, intellectuals, media professionals and politicians.

Hawass is a renowned Egyptologist and archaeologist who has worked at several archaeological sites in the Nile Delta, the Western Desert, and the Upper Nile Valley. Hawas graduated from the school of arts in Alexandria University in 1967 after studying Greek and Roman Archaeology.

When he was 33, he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, earning a master of arts degree in Egyptology and Syro-Palestinian Archaeology. In 1987 he finished his PhD degree in Egyptology from the Graduate Group in the Art and Archaeology of the Mediterranean World (AAMW), concentrating on the Funerary Establishments of Khufu, Khafra and Menkaura during the Old Kingdom.

Hawass taught Egyptian archaeology, history and culture at the American University in Cairo and the University of California.

“I’m so happy to accept this position and ensure the value of Egypt’s civilization in the world,” he said in a press statement.

He added that the damaged monuments are not only part of their countries's heritage but part of the whole world, ensuring that he will work through the different cultural organizations of the United Nations and the Arab League, in addition to the world museums, to preserve archeological heritage from further destruction.

Moreover, Hawass announced his plan to launch a database for these monuments in order to track them if they are stolen as well as to train archeologists in Syria, Iraq and Libya to safeguard and restore monuments in these archeological areas.
Hawass pointed out that he refuses the idea of transferring these damaged monuments from countries in the midst of civil wars and terrorist attacks to any European countries, saying that he will discuss ways to guarantee the safety of these monuments with Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anany.

Mohamed Gharib, the president of the Arab Federation of Tour Guides (AFTG), said Hawass' appointment by the UN confirms his value in the world and the weight of Egypt and its great civilization. He confirmed that the AFTG is ready to cooperate with him in promoting the Egyptian tourism to return to its former glory, especially as Hawass talks about Egypt and its civilization very impressively.

AFTG spokesperson Abdel Rahim Rihan said today that choosing Hawas is honorable for Egypt and the Arab world as he has a valuable reputation in the archeological field world wide, especially as his passion is antiquities.

Speaking to Youm7 newspaper, the acting president of the Egyptian Archaeologists Union Moustafa Waziry said the selection of Hawass is ideal, beleiving that the Ministry of Antiquities would benefit from this position and Hawass' strong foreign relations in restoring tourism and funding.

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