CAIRO: Egypt has returned 176 antique coins seized at Egyptian ports to their countries of origin — Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq and China.
A ceremony was held at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo attended by embassy officials from the four countries.
Ahmed Issa, Egypt’s minister of tourism and antiquities, stressed the importance of the event, “through which we send an important message: Egypt not only preserves its heritage, antiquities and civilization but also of other countries.”
Issa said his ministry, in collaboration with other relevant authorities, plays a “very important role” which is to seize any stolen Egyptian artifact before it is smuggled abroad, in addition to seizing any artifact belonging to other countries that have ancient civilizations.
He said Egypt’s central administration for archaeological units at the country’s ports has, over the past few years, seized many artifacts belonging to some Arab and foreign countries, following the UNESCO convention which Egypt joined in 1972, as well as in the application of bilateral agreements signed between Egypt and many countries, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and China.
Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the move followed Egypt’s realization of the importance of the civilizations and heritage of other peoples and its resolve to abide by all international treaties and agreements.
Waziri said Egyptian authorities seized 133 coins belonging to Saudi Arabia, six to Iraq, four to Jordan and 33 to China.
The coins were deposited in the museum until they were returned to their home countries.
Ahmed Nayef, Iraq’s ambassador, praised Egypt’s action to bring back “parts of the history and civilization” to the four countries.
Jordan’s Ambassador Amjad Al-Adaileh said the ceremony at the museum was the “best evidence and witness to what Egypt is offering in order to protect the heritage and civilization of the world.”
Issa handed over the coins to the officials from the four countries.
Egyptian archaeological official Hamdi Hammam said the Saudi coins dated back to different periods starting from the era of King Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the Iraqi coins to the era of King Faisal I, Jordan’s coins dated back to the era of King Hussein bin Ali and King Hussein bin Talal, and the Chinese coins dated back to the Ming dynasty.
In 2017, Egypt handed over a set of ancient coins to Saudi Arabia and Iraq, and in 2020, it handed over 100 stolen gold and silver coins to Saudi Arabia, India, and China.