Khartoum – Sudanese Minister of Tourism, Antiquities and Wildlife Mohammed Abu Zeid Mustafa said his country would exert all possible efforts to recover looted and stolen antiquities in museums around the world, through diplomatic and legal channels.
He said the government would submit a complaint to the UNESCO director general, during her visit to Khartoum next week.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Mustafa said that France’s Louvre museum would organize next year an exhibition on Sudanese archeology, with a special focus on the belongings of Pharaoh Taharqa, who ruled the region extending from Sudan to Palestine, more than 3,000 years ago.
The minister said that his country would seize this opportunity to renew its calls to recover its stolen antiquities, noting in this regard that the government would issue a memorandum calling on countries that are retaining Sudanese antiquities in their museums to send them back to Sudan.
Mustafa said his country enjoyed a unique touristic feature, which is diversity. He explained that Sudan encompasses archeological treasures from many different eras, and from very ancient civilizations that existed 7,000 to 10,000 years B.C.
As for other touristic features, the minister said that the country enjoys a shoreline that stretches over 750 kilometers along the Red Sea, as well as more than 20 superb islands, including the Suakin Archipelago, which is known for dazzling reefs and an underwater universe of dense soft and hard corals that attract divers from around the world.
Mustafa said that UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova would conduct a visit to Sudan on February 6, and would explore the famous Jebel Berkal (Berkal mountain) and several other tourism landmarks.
“Sudan has nine natural reserves that encompass wide forests, which are home to a varied range of rare animals,” he added.
Asked about tourism inflows and revenues, the minister said: “More than 800,000 tourists visited the country last year, and we expect that the number would reach one million over the next year.”
He added that tourism income has reached $1.5 billion in 2016.
On the number of pyramids in Sudan, Mustafa said: “I cannot give a specific number, but I can confirm that we have the world’s largest site of pyramids, which is the ‘Bejraouia’ region that holds 120 pyramids.”
He noted in this regard that a Qatar-Sudan Archeological Project was working on the restoration of pyramids, within a Qatari initiative to promote the rich archaeological heritage in the Republic of the Sudan.