Eugenio Benedetti, chair of the prestigious Italian Benedetti charity organization, described Egypt as “a safe country and a state of peace,” during the “Treasures of Ancient Egypt” exhibition held in the Italian city of Viterbo, which was organized by the retired Italian businessman himself.
Speaking to the Egyptian media delegation at the opening of the exhibition, Benedetti encouraged Italians to visit Egypt, saying that Italy “stands with Egypt in the fight against terrorism.”
The charity organization, which was founded in 1899, sponsors cultural and humanitarian projects between Egypt and Italy. It works in partnership with the Italian hospital, which was established in 1903 by Benedetti’s grandfather Empedocle Gaglio.
The 88-year-old Benedetti recalled with pride his relationship with former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel-Nasser. Benedetti’s company was responsible for transmitting electricity from the High Aswan Dam to various towers scattered across the country. Nasser thanked him for continuing in his grandfather’s path in developing Egypt, he remembers.
Italian tourists to Egypt have been in the forefront of Europeans visiting the country for years.
Benedetti's endorsement for Italian tourism to Egypt is key for the country as both Cairo and rome continue collaboration to solve the murder of Italian student Giulio Regeni, who was murdered in Egypt in early 2016.
Benedetti stated that the Egyptian exhibitions he helped to organize were intended to express the “Italy’s love for Egypt”. Benedetti wanted these events to echo his foundation’s statement that “Egypt is a safe and peaceful country and that all Italians should return again to visit Egypt."
Benedetti also noted that the “Treasures of Ancient Egypt” exhibition would help to improve Italian-Egyptian relations through the cooperation between the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and the Egyptian Embassy in Rome.
Benedetti thanked the Egyptian and Italian officials and departments that collaborated to arrange this exhibition, giving special mention to Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Anany.
Benedetti predicted that the coming period in Egypt will be one of economic prosperity, which will encourage Italian investors to return to the “castle of their investments” in the Middle East and Egypt.
Referring to the discovery of the Zohr gas field in the Mediterranean in 2015, Benedetti said "I was glad when I heard a few days ago about the Italian company ENI’s new discovery. This is a light that bears goodness for Egypt and that will bring a huge reserve of natural gas.”
Benedetti believes that this discovery will change Egypt’s economic trajectory, and that the country will become one of the most prominent natural gas producers and exporters in the world.
He explained his belief that Egypt will prosper, and will not require further loans from the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund.
Benedetti said “I hope to meet the President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi,” adding that he believed Egypt was subject to a conspiracy, and that there was an alliance aiming to destabilize Egypt."
Expressing Italy’s support by stating that "we are always with Egypt in the fight against terrorism," Benedetti stressed that in the past Egypt has been victim to evil forces attempting to weaken and break the unity of the Egyptian people. Benedetti urged Egyptians to learn from the Italians how to unite and fight evil forces off with political leadership and power.
Benedetti praised the efforts of Egyptian Ambassador to Italy Hisham Badr to implement pilgrimages to retrace the journey of the Holy Family in Egypt, for which the first Italian delegation arrived in Cairo on 19 June.
Benedetti explained to Egyptian media delegates that he had proposed the idea of organizing pilgrimage visits to the former Minister of Tourism Yahia Rashed, and renewed the proposition to the new minister Rania El-Mashat, who supported his suggestion.
The bishops of Rome and Viterbo were among those present on the first flight of Italians to Egypt to visit 15 sites related to the Holy Family’s journey.
Benedetti also told the Egyptian media delegation that “Coptic Pope Tawadros invited me to attend a mass hosted in the Basilica of St Paul at the Vatican next Sunday,” adding "this is the first time prayers will be heard at the Vatican by a Coptic Orthodox Pope."
Benedetti expressed his hopes for the organization of a large pilgrimage route of the Holy Family path around the coming Christmas, likely consisting of nearly a thousand people, confirming that Italian companies – to his knowledge – have already begun to promote Egypt's tourist pilgrimages.
“I think the hospitality, from all Egyptian persons responsible for the first group of pilgrims to the Holy family journey in Egypt, is a message to not only for Italians, but for the world to continue the pilgrimage to Egypt," predicting large numbers of pilgrims coming to Egypt over the coming period.
Benedetti expressed his hope to be buried in Egypt next to his grandfather, who was buried in the hospital’s garden after his death in 1949 after working in it for 45 years.