Accompanied by the ministers of antiquities and tourism, 22 African ambassadors and diplomats visited the Abu Simbel Temples in Aswan overnight Friday to witness the sun as it illuminates the face of Ramses II statue – a rare phenomenon that occurs twice a year: on February 22 to mark the king’s birthday and on October 22 to mark his coronation (even though those dates are not archaeologically proven but they still circulated heavily as a folklore story).
The visit was organized by the Ministry of Tourism to mark the phenomenon, with an audience of 6,500 Egyptians and foreigners gathering for the occasion.
Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Dr Moustafa Waziri explained the phenomenon to the African diplomats during the tour.
Minister of Antiquities Khaled el Anani praised efforts exerted in cooperation with the ministries of tourism and culture to organize this ceremony, especially after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi named Aswan the capital of African youth. The ceremony also comes after Egypt took over presidency of the African Union in 2019 and after the Arab country was chosen to host the Total 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, he added.
A dinner banquet was also held in honor of the African diplomats during a Nile cruise that was organized by the ministries of tourism and communications.
Tourism Minister Rania el Mashat said ceremonies as such are meant to promote travel to Egypt and are in line with a structural reform program to upgrade the tourism sector.
Culture Minister Inas Abdel Dayem considered the ceremony a strong start for Egypt as president of the AU. She pointed out that this time the sun shined on Ramses II as Aswan hosts a number of artistic and cultural activities, believing that the ceremony was a big success.
The African diplomats also attended a folkloric festival that was organized by the Ministry of Culture. Twenty troupes from Arab, African and Asian countries took part in the festival.
The diplomats then watched a sound-and-light show in front of the Abu Simbel Temples.
The ambassador of Cameroon made a speech in which he thanked the Tourism Ministry for organizing the ceremony. He hailed as important the role Egypt plays as president of the AU, especially in terms of boosting African cooperation and integration.
All the African ambassadors are happy they were invited to watch the sun illuminate the face of Ramses II, he said, hoping this would herald a new era of African harmony and integration.