Dr Zahi Hawass, has been promoted in the shake up of Egyptian President’s Hosni Mubarak’s new cabinet according to a report from AP. Formerly the Vice Minister for Culture, and the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), Dr Hawass will now take the role as Minister of a newly created department – the State Ministry for Antiquities. Literary critic Dr Gaber Asfour has been named the new Minister of Culture, replacing the long-serving Farouk Hosni.
The cabinet shake up comes in the wake of political turmoil across Egypt, which saw a lack of police protection for key sites such as Cairo’s Egyptian Museum. Looting at the museum saw damage caused to several artefacts including those discovered in the famous Tomb of King Tutankhamun, as well as reports of severe looting at sites including Saqqara, Memphis Museum and Abusir. Former director of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Wafaa el-Saddik, also revealed that museums in Egypt do not have insurance.
Last year, Dr Hawass was installed by President Mubarak as the Vice Minister for Culture in a move to allow him to postpone his pending mandatory retirement as the Secretary General of the SCA, as Egyptian ministers do not have a set age for retirement.
With several museums and heritage sites across Egypt in a state of disarray, Dr Hawass’ first priority will be to account for the missing artefacts, begin the restoration of damaged historical treasure and reopen museums and popular tourist spots such as the Great Pyramids of Giza as soon as possible.