Monday, 16 January 2012

Interview with Egypt's Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim

Nevine El-Aref has an interesting and quite lengthy interview with Egypt's Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim ('Heritage at what cost?') in Al-Ahram. This comes some two months after his appointment by the National Rescue Government (NRG) led by Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri as the second Minister of State for Antiquities (succeeding Zahi Hawass). Mohamed Ibrahim was formerly chief of the 'Tourism Guide English Department' in the Faculty of Arts at Ain Shams University. He has however some impressive credentials for the job:
Since graduating in archaeology from Cairo University he served for eight years in the SCA, where he was an antiquities inspector for the Abu Simbel temples, chief inspector of Edfu, Kom Ombo and Aswan monuments in Upper Egypt, and general director of the Saqqara district south of Cairo. In 1987 Ibrahim abandoned archaeological field work and moved to France, where he earned a diploma and doctorate in Egyptology from Lyons University. He also received a certificate in museum management from the American Information Centre in the United States. In addition to his academic work at Alexandria and Ain Shams universities, Ibrahim supervised the museological work and interior design of the planned Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) overlooking the Giza Plateau.
He outlines some of his plans for reform and the future work of the antiquities department, some of which sound like brilliant ideas, others raise an eyebrow. There is no mention on the Ministry's future policies on repatriation of artefacts from outside the country, or the division of competence in the field of museums between this ministry and other government institutions concerning arts and culture. Predictably a lot of the article is about 'getting the tourists back' and 'how to employ thousands of archaeologists' rather than the actual projected directions of Egyptian archaeology. Still, these are early days.

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