Puzzle over Zahi Hawass

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by Annika Backe

May 25, 2017 – Ambassador or no ambassador, that is the question. This is what you are thinking when looking for reliable information on the current status of Zahi Hawass. The doctor of Egyptology is said to have become the new UN Ambassador for Cultural Heritage. This news was published on Ahram Online on April 8, 2017. The English-language news website is maintained by Al-Ahram Establishment, publisher of Egypt’s oldest newspaper, the daily Al-Ahram, since 1876.

The news quotes the President of the nominating committee, the International Federation for Peacekeeping and Sustainable Development, Sally Kader as having said “His major discoveries in Egypt are known all over the world,” adding that Hawass was “able through his passion and TV shows to reach the households of people from all over the globe”. Hawass is said to have told Ahram Online in an interview that he was deeply honored to receive the title. To save the archaeological and cultural heritage of Syria, Libya, and Iraq, he would cooperate with the Arab League, archaeologists from all over the world, as well as American institutions. To this effect, he would also plan a database, and he intended to train local archaeologists and museum staff on how to protect both the archaeological sites and the collections.

In illustrious company: Zahi Hawass, on the left with his familiar hat, on a 2009 tour with the then U.S. President Barack Obama. Photo: Peter Souza / Wikipedia.

Although this sounds very convincing, it is hard to find any official source backing this news. This also holds true for subsequent publications, for instance, on Cairo Scene or Egypt Independent. Strikingly enough, this personnel matter is reported only by very few media, by Egyptian publishers at that. The surprising thing is that the new appointment is mentioned neither on any official UN website nor on the webpage of Zahi Hawass. All the more astounding since the “world-renowned archaeologist” hardly lets any opportunity for self-presentation go by. Several e-mails with the request for confirmation sent by CoinsWeekly to the International Federation for Peacekeeping and Sustainable Development and to the UN news center remained unanswered.

Fake news, belated April’s Fool’s joke or accurate information after all? Whether or not the 69-year-old – despite of having been removed from his office as Minister of Antiquities twice, despite accusations regarding corruption, bribery, anti-Jewish sentiments, and obscure contract award processes – is the new UN Ambassador, remains unclear. The guessing game is far from over.

Here you can find the relevant article on Ahram Online, on Egypt Independent and on Cairo Scene.

This is the homepage of the International Federation for Peacekeeping and Sustainable Development.

To access the internet presence of Zahi Hawass, please click here.

And several articles with background information on Zahi Hawass can be read on CoinsWeekly.