Coca-cola Aids Egyptian Project

The Coca-Cola Company will provide the $340,000 to $400,000 needed to cover the expenses for the first two years of a Brooklyn Museum project to conserve and record the monuments of ancient Thebes in Egypt, it was announced today.

But Sam Ayoub, president of Coca-Cola’s Middle East group, denied to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the involvement of the Atlanta, Georgia-based firm was an effort to get Egypt to help get Coca-Cola off the Arab boycott list.

Ayoub, who is also a vice-president of the parent Coca-Cola Company, said that the signed an agreement in Egypt in September to develop 15,000 acres of orange groves in Egypt which the soft drink company hopes will lead to its removal from the boycott list. He said this was done before Coca-Cola was approached about the Brooklyn Museum project, which he said his company was contributing to only for “humanitarian” reasons.

Ayoub’s statements to the JTA came after the project, called the Theban Expedition, was announced at a press conference at the museum. The Coca-Cola official told the conference his company hoped that projects such as this would help “bring the world closer together.” Dr. Lillian Berkman, chairman of the International Advisory Committee for the project, said Coca-Cola was approached because a sponsor was needed and she was familiar with the company recent efforts in mounting an exhibition of Japanese art.

John Q. Blodgett, of the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, said the project “represented another joint venture between Egypt and the United States.” He noted that the U.S. was now working with Egypt in seeking a Middle East peace but that 200 years from now, the Theban Expedition might be viewed as of “equal importance.”

Michael Botwinick, the Brooklyn Museum’s director, said the project will involve the conservation and recording of the monuments in the Valley of the Kings on the west bank of the Nile, many of which are in danger of collapsing, and continuing excavations on the east bank of the Nile near the major tourist city of Luxor.

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