Archaeologists work on mummies found in the New Kingdom tomb in Luxor, Egypt, on Sep. 9, 2017. (AP photo)
CAIRO, July 1 (Xinhua) -- Egyptian Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Anany said in a recent interview with Xinhua that the first-ever Chinese archaeological mission in Egypt will start working this September.
"The Chinese mission has completed all the procedures to work in Egypt ... their work will start in September in Upper Egypt's city of Luxor," al-Anany told Xinhua.
He added that the mission has chosen Luxor as it is rich in many uncovered ancient Egyptian antiquities.
The minister hailed the cooperation between Egypt and China as both countries have deep roots in their ancient civilizations, mainly in the archaeological field, saying Egypt is proud of its strong ties with China.
"We send many experts to China every year to exchange experience," he revealed.
China now holds the world's leading three-dimensional remote sensing and imaging technology, as well as advanced indoor testing and analysis techniques, which will allow Chinese archaeologists to help their Egyptian counterparts discover buried treasures.
In another interview with Xinhua, Wang Wei, the former head of the institute of archaeology under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) said the CASS will collaborate with Egyptian experts to carry out archaeological excavations, cultural relics protection, safety monitoring and control in key sites in Egypt.
He also said that the Chinese institute will help train Egyptian experts in the protection of archaeological discoveries.
Egypt has been working hard to preserve its archaeological heritage and discover the secrets of Pharaohs and other ancient civilizations across the country in a bid to revive the country's ailing tourism sector which has been suffering an acute recession over the past few years due to political turmoil and relevant security issues.
Official Egyptian statistics revealed that Egypt's tourism revenues jumped 123.5 percent year-on-year to 7.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2017.
However, these figures remain below the benchmark in 2010 when tourists visiting Egypt brought in around 12.5 billion dollars in revenue.
Speaking about the financial situation of his ministry, al-Anany said, for the first time in years, the ministry's income has climbed to reach 65 million Egyptian pounds (3.64 million dollars) per year, adding that the ministry's income is used in the restoration and development of archaeological sites.
However, the minister said the debts of the ministry have so far reached 6 billion pounds, as the Egyptian Ministry of Finance spends about 75 million pounds per month to pay the salaries of the 32,414 employees of his ministry.
Al-Anany said the ministry, backed by the government and other international donors, is doing its best to uncover and preserve the country's antiquities, adding that this will help Egypt revive its tourism sector, one of the main pillars of the country's economy.
He revealed that opening of several archaeological projects across Egypt will be witnessed after getting the necessary funding for their completion.
"An important archaeological discovery will be announced on July 14," he said.
Speaking about the under-construction Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) near Cairo, the minister said the first phase of the project will be finished by the end of this year, and it will be ready for opening during the first quarter of 2019.
The GEM can accommodate 100,000 artifacts: 50,000 will be in constant display and another 50,000 will be stored in modern storehouses. And 30,000 artifacts have never been displayed before.
The total area of the grand museum, initiated in 2001, is about half a million square meters.
Meanwhile, Al-Anany said Egypt is keen on fighting illicit trafficking and the robbery of archaeological objects as well as retrieving all of its smuggled ancient artifacts, saying the ministry has retrieved a large number of Egyptian relics from Italy days ago.