Two-day visit to Alexandria

Two-day visit to Alexandria

Reference Number:  , Press Release Issue Date: May 20, 2024

In follow-up to last year’s visit of Mr. Christopher Cutajar, Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade, to Egypt, Ambassador Roberto Pace visited Alexandria again where he held several meetings and visited a number of institutions.

19 May


Ambassador Pace started his tour of the city with a visit to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, where he was welcomed by Dr. Heba Al Rafey, Director of Public Relations and International Communications. The Ambassador recalled the public lecture that Dr. Michael Refalo delivered on 15 March 2023 at the library and the great interest those who attended have shown in his publication entitled Among Others, The Maltese in Egypt: Life, Crime and Death (1860s-1923). Ambassador Pace thanked Dr. Refalo for having made available three copies of his book that today he was proudly donating to this august institution, and expressed his satisfaction that it was now available on the shelves of this prestigious library. Ambassador Pace then visited various sections of the library, including the main reading hall, digital and technological projects, and several exhibitions and museums, such as the Alexandria Through the Ages exhibition, the Manuscripts Museum, the Shadi Abdel Salam exhibition, the Arab Folk Art exhibition, and the President Anwar Sadat Museum.


Ambassador Pace then proceeded to the Saint Catherine Cathedral of Alexandria where he was welcomed by Father Antonio Adib, Superior of the convent, Father Filippo Farah, Rector of Saint Catherine's School and Father Botros Joseph, Parish priest of the cathedral. The cathedral is the Roman Catholic cathedral of the Apostolic Vicariate of Alexandria of Egypt and served as the burial place of exiled Italian king Victor Emmanuel III upon his death in 1947 until his remains were repatriated to Italy in 2017. It also serves as the church of the Franciscan monastery in Alexandria. The Franciscans have been present in Alexandria since the seventeenth century.


The friars gave Ambassador Pace a tour of the Cathedral and explained its link to the Maltese community that formed part of the rich cosmopolitan milieu characteristic of early 20th century Alexandria. The Ambassador then continued to the archives of the Cathedral which hold an invaluable source of birth, death and marriage records of Maltese families who at the time formed part of a community of around 28,000 citizens. Ambassador Pace thanked the friars for taking care of these priceless documents and emphasised how useful they are to the Embassy when it receives enquiries from Maltese trying to trace their ancestors.


20 May

The following day Ambassador Pace held a courtesy call on Major General Mr. Mohamed Al-Sherif, the Governor of Alexandria. The discussions focused on fostering cultural and tourism exchanges between Malta and Alexandria. Ambassador Pace underscored the city’s cultural significance and explained how he will be visiting various institutions in Alexandria in search of more information about the Maltese diaspora that lived in Alexandria up to the mid-20th century. On the other hand, Governor Al-Sherif emphasised the importance of establishing a direct flight route between Alexandria and Malta to boost tourism exchanges. He also proposed twinning agreements between Alexandria and major Maltese cities to open new avenues for cooperation in various fields. Finally, the Governor suggested engaging with Alexandria University for the proposed studies and research on the Maltese diaspora, highlighting the potential for deeper cultural and academic links between Malta and Egypt.


Ambassador Roberto Pace concluded his tour of Alexandria with a visit to the Centre ​d'Études Alexandrines, an archaeological research centre founded by French archaeologist Jean-Yves Empereur, where he was welcomed by its director, Dr. Thomas Faucher. The Centre is involved in the study of the long history of Alexandria and its region. Through archaeological excavations, thematic studies and heritage promotion, the Centre contributes to the preservation of the city’s unique heritage, both ancient and modern.


The staff showed Ambassador Pace all sections of the Centre and elaborated on its aims to gather information and digitise the archives it receives, making it a hub in various aspects for research on Alexandria. The Centre receives and digitises all kinds of documents from several quarters, both public and private. On his part, Ambassador Pace commended the Centre's work and observed the opportunities it presented to shed more light on the Maltese community of Alexandria, especially since Maltese researchers have not tapped into its archives yet. To this end, both sides agreed to explore further collaboration.


Ambassador Pace was accompanied by Mrs Bojana Dimitrovska, spouse, Mrs Lina Al Nafouri, Deputy Ambassador and Consul, and Mr. Nadim Kanawati from the Embassy.

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