On February the 9th, H. E. Mrs. Manal Yehia El Shinnawi, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Arab Republic of Egypt in our country, invited ambassadors, diplomats, journalists, politicians and cultural figures on a lecture by the famous Egyptologist, Prof. Dr. Zahi Hawass.

It has been a long time since the Ceremonial Hall of the Central Military Club in Sofia has been so full. The event, organized by the Embassy of Arab Republic of Egypt, the Egyptian Tourist Authority and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria was dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between our two countries.
H. E. Mrs. Manal Yehia El Shinnawi welcomed the guests who came to hear the lecture by the eminent archaeologist and then briefly recalled the most important development of the bilateral relations between Bulgaria and Egypt: "Over the past 90 years we have worked hard to build strong bridges between Cairo and Sofia in the diplomatic, political, commercial, cultural, tourist, social and all other relations. For this period, we have achieved a large number of arrangements. Trade between our countries is increasing every year. Egypt became the largest economic partner of Bulgaria from the Middle East and Africa. The agreement in the field of culture between the two countries gives good prospects. It is soon expected for a new agreement to be signed in the field of tourism and it will lead to the acquaintance of our people with tourist treasures from both parties.
There were two revolutions over the past five years in Egypt. The first one, from the 25th of January 2011 - sought a better life, freedom, dignity and social justice. The second one, from the 30th of June 2013 - was made to maintain the identity of Egypt as a moderate and modern country and to protect it from ideologies and radicalism.
When we look at the map of Egypt, we see the great Nile river; spreading its sleeves in the Delta. Nile has always been the life of Egypt; a great civilization was born on its shores. Based on the concept of both sleeves and the two hands, we can say that today our country strives for stability and development. The digging of the new Suez Canal is a gift not only for Egypt, but for all countries.
The processing of a new 1.5 million feddans and the achievement of new goals in all areas is important for all Egyptians. Stability in Egypt and throughout the region is a priority. The fights against radical ideologies and terrorism through cooperation and a comprehensive approach to security, economic and social development are also important."
Then H. E. Mrs Manal Yehia El Shinnawi presented the high guest, saying that the visit of Prof. Dr. Zahi Hawass in Bulgaria, on the occasion of 90th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between our countries, is the event of the day. She welcomed him for coming to lead us on a journey through the ancient Egyptian civilization that gave mankind important concepts: the rise in the value of science and research, respect for women, respect for labour and others. "Over his long career, Prof. Dr. Hawass has been awarded numerous international prizes and honours. In 1998 the president of Egypt awarded him the prize for arts and science - first degree. He received the title "Pride of Egypt" by members of the foreign press in the country. It is one of the 30 people in the world, who has received a gold medal from the American Academy of achievements in archaeology. In July 2001, the National Geographic elected him as one of its "Explorer in Residence". The Russian Academy of Natural Sciences awarded him a silver medal and made him its member. In November 2003, his name was included in the CD of the"Mars Exploration Rover" mission.The "Time" magazine sets Prof. Dr. Hawass as one of the 100 most influential people of 2006. The next year he became a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters of France, and in 2008 – a Commander of the Order of contribution to Italy. That same year he received the award of "World and Tourism" and was appointed for a goodwill Ambassador in Japan by the Egyptian and Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "
It should be emphasized that Prof. Dr. Zahi Hawass, except being a renowned Egyptologist and archaeologist, was also Minister of Antiquities of the Arab Republic in Egypt. Not surprisingly, in front of the audience in the hall of his admirers’the professor expressed his great indignation regarding the Islamic State, which he insists on calling DAESH, because it has destroyed many antiquities in Libya, Syria and Iraq. He talked about how the sights should be protected from the attacks of terrorist formations. He shared how Egypt managed to preserve much of the mummies and other valuables during the invasion of "looters and robbers" in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. They attacked it in the search of gold, therefore the breaking of the museum followed; but they were also looking for the Red Mercury – a liquid, which is supposed to cure people. Through multimedia the professor illustrated his words concerning what was done by the looters. But thanks to the fact that the people and staff of the museum locked the hall of the mummies on time and the army did everything possible for their protection, and due to the fact that it was dark, no significant damages were caused. Nevertheless, many artefacts were broken or stolen. Why do they destroy? And the robbers themselves cannot give an exact answer. "There was a rumour that the golden mask of Tutankhamun was stolen from the museum and I had to call a press conference to refute it." During the attack,54 artefacts got stolen. Most are found and returned to the museum. Only 17 small items are still not found. Prof. Dr. Zahi Hawass said that for a one-year-running of the "Islamic brothers" in Egypt so much damage has been caused. For this reason, 33 million Egyptians went to the streets to demand the change of this situation. And in the election they chose "the man who saved Egypt - President Sisi."
Then Prof. Dr. Zahi Hawass gave a fascinating lecture on "Pyramids, mummies and new discoveries". He also shared his plans of making two museums in Egypt. One - The Great Egyptian Museum, which is being built in the shadow of the pyramids will contain, apart from all artefacts that are found in the Egyptian Museum, also many other ones that are currently nowhere to be exposed. Its cost will be around $ 700 million. The other is the Museum of Civilizations. "They ask me whether Egypt is safe for tourists" - interjected the professor. "Yes, it is safe. And all the money that you will leave in the country will go for the restoration of the monuments."
This support was also encouraged by the present in the hall - Dr. Adil al Misri, Advisor of the Egyptian Minister of Tourism, who also assured the guests that there is no security problem in Egypt. He said that a visit by the Bulgarian Minister of Tourism in Cairo is expected soon, in which bilateral agreements will be signed and a protocol for cooperation to boost tourism, trade and investment exchanged. Charter flights from Sofia to Luxor and Sharm El Sheikh will be planned. "Gradually the tourism in our country regained the status as it was before the events. In 2010, shortly before the fall of the President Hosni Mubarak, the number of tourists visiting Egypt amounted to 14.7 million. In comparison to last year this number was 9.5 million, which shows an increase compared to the years of the revolution. Our ambition is that by 2020 the number will grow to 20 million tourists a year. "
Outside the lecture on the 9th of February, during his visit to Bulgaria, Prof. Dr. Zahi Hawass was awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of the New Bulgarian University. He also met with the Minister of Culture Vezhdi Rashidov, who officially invited him to participate in the studies of the Valley of the Thracian Kings. They also discussed the challenges in front of the conservation of archaeological sites in the context of conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Photo: “Diplomatic Spectrum” magazine.