An Egyptian Artist in Rome
Zahi Hawass - July 2008

Farouk Hosni left Paris to work at the Egyptian Academy in Rome. At that time Abdel Hamid Radwan was the Minister of Culture and wanted Mohamed Ghomeim to be the head of the Academy. However, the late Dr. Sufi Abu Taleb and the late Atef Sedky convinced Hamid Radwan that Farouk Hosni was the best candidate for the job. Farouk Hosni established great activities in Rome and brought the Egyptian cultural to the Italians. He became good friends with many Italian Egyptologists, such as Sergio Donadoni and Silvio Curto.

Atef Sedky was appointed by President Mubarak to be Egypt’s prime minister of and also at that time Ahmed Kadry became the head of Egypt’s Antiquities Organization. Ahmed Kadry gave a voice to antiquities but most of his work was criticized, especially because of the Sphinx restoration project that he oversaw. The architect who was in charge of the reconstruction of the casing stones, which the pharaohs put on the Sphinx’s body, replaced them with stones that completely changed the proportions of the Sphinx. Also, the cement could be seen on the blocks distracting from the beauty of this masterpiece. Another incident that brought significant criticism, was when they had a student who had never worked in restoration, paint the Citadel.

Atef Sedky understood how valuable Farouk Hosni was. At that time, Farouk Hosni was not well known by the public, but he was known and respected as a talented artist within the cultural community. Several reporters visited Farouk Hosni in Rome including my friend Mostafa El Nagar and Ahmed Abu Kaf. When they were interviewing Farouk Hosni he confided in them that Atef Sedky wanted him to be Egypt’s minister of culture but he did not want the job. Upon hearing this Abu Kaf said to Mustafa that Farouk Hosni was dreaming and there was no way he could be the minister of culture. Many people wanted to be the minister of culture including famous writers and journalists.

I finished my doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania in 1987 and returned to Egypt and became the director of the Giza Pyramids and Saqqara under Ahmed Kadry. At that time, Gamal Mokhtar, Kamel El Mallakh, Ahmed Kadry and I used to socialize. Gamal Mokhtar was the former head of the Antiquities Department before Amhed Kadry and Kamel El Mallakh was a great journalist and he discovered the Solar Boat of Khufu on the south side of the Great Pyramid. Kamel El Mallakh thought of the Solar Boat as his baby and would not let anyone touch it. Ahmed Kadry had National Geographic work on the second boat in cooperation with Farouk El Baz and he did not include Kaamel El Mallakh in this project. Hence, a war began between Atef Kadry and Kamel El Mallakh started. Gamal Mokhtar and I were caught in the middle of this fight and we could not do anything. I went with Gamal Mokhtar to Denver, Colorado to attend the opening of the Ramses the Great exhibit at the National History Musuem and while I was there two important things happened. First, I received a phone call from Kamel El Mallakh’s sister-in-law, Dorthea, and she told me that Kamel El Mallakh died. Second, Farouk Hosni became the minister of culture.

To be continued….

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