Antiquities Khaled El Enany and Belgian Ambassdor in Egypt Sibille de Cartier inaugurating the exhibition
CAIRO – 1 November 2017: On the premises of the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, the “150 years of Belgian Royal Visits to Egypt” was inaugurated Tuesday by the Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Anany and Belgian Ambassador in Egypt Sibille de Cartier.
Anany and Cartier have toured the photo exhibition looking at some of the best recorded moments; emphasizing relations between both countries. The exhibition has featured a collection of photos of Belgian royals, architects, entrepreneurs, and archeologists who have contributed to various sectors in Egypt.
“The exhibition opening is very special as it emphasized the deep appreciation the Belgian people have always had for our country. Belgium has always been fond of archeology and as a result many archeological missions came to Egypt to explore sites such as Minya, Luxor, and Aswan,” Anany said in his speech during the ceremony. Anany accentuated that the relations between both countries have always been strong in regards to culture and heritage.
Opening Speech Khaled El-Anany (Photo by Egypt Today)
Cartier explained to Egypt Today that the Egyptian Museum was chosen to host this exhibition which contains many photos that were taken on archeological sites. She further added that the first photo the embassy chose to open the exhibition with operates as a symbol of the whole exhibition. It depicts the royal Belgian family standing in the middle of the museum; while the photo designated to conclude the exhibition was also taken in the museum.
In her opening speech, Cartier stated that the event is part of the embassy’s “Belgian Days” that are designed to celebrate the bilateral relations between the two countries in a unique way.
“The Belgian presence in Egypt has begun in 1838 and Belgian royals were the first to set the milestone of these bilateral relations. Their visits emphasize the intense relations between both countries,” Cartier said in her speech during the reception following the photo exhibition.
She meticulously explained the origins of these relations, mentioning that the king of Belgium has travelled to Egypt in 1850 for health purposes and since then became fond of the country and visited various sites years later.
Belgian Ambassador in Egypt Sibille de Cartier (Photo by Egypt Today)
“The royal part is the symbol of the whole relation as it marks the cultural, economical, and political value but it has a greater archeological and historical value more because it underlines the history of the country through these visits,” Cartier told Egypt Today
These ties have later grown where Belgians contributed in all development sectors in Egypt such as finance, judiciary, and construction among others, according to the ambassador.
“The Belgian engineer Édouard Louis Joseph Empain has created and constructed the designs of Heliopolis in Cairo, [after which] Belgian presence have grown in all sectors in 20th century,” she added.
Belgian visits to Egypt have been conducted not only by families but also by entrepreneurs, artists, philanthropists, and archeologists. Moreover, the visits further grew to ministerial levels where topics of interest were discussed.
Belgian Ambassador in Egypt Sibille de Cartier and El Anany touring the exhibition (Photo by Egypt Today)
“We don’t shy away from discussing topics that can sometimes be sensitive as we believe that a friendly dialogue and exchange will allow both of us to grow,” Cartier asserted.
As she concluded her speech, Cartier confirmed that despite the exhibition being entitled “150 years of Belgian visits to Egypt,” these visits have been conducted for a total of 162 years.
The Belgian ambassador further spoke with Egypt Today about the upcoming cultural activities that will be hosted by the embassy mentioning that a conference will be held next month tackling the history of Heliopolis as part of the cultural domain between both countries.
“We have also previously hosted a dance improvisation workshop in September that was part of our Belgian days which was pretty successful and the response from the Egyptian dancers has been incredible. I think there is a vibrant culture scene here in Egypt and there are a lot of connections that can be made,” Cartier added.