The Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) and the Ministry of Culture of the Arab Republic of Egypt have officially launched the celebration of Cairo as Culture Capital in the Islamic World with a ceremony organized by the Ministry in concert with the Organization. The ceremony was held on the evening of Sunday, April 10, 2022, at the Roman Amphitheater on the northern wall of Fatimid Cairo, and saw the presence of high-level officials of the Egyptian government, ambassadors of Arab and foreign countries to Egypt, members of the Egyptian House of Representatives and Senate, public figures, writers, intellectuals, artists, along with a wide public.
The year-long celebration of Cairo as Culture Capital in the Islamic World, which was scheduled for 2020, but has been postponed to 2022 due to the COVID- 19 pandemic, is held as part of ICESCO’s Programme for Culture Capitals in the Islamic World. The celebration’s program consists of 149 different activities, ranging from training courses and workshops to competitions, exhibitions and artistic performances, in which all sectors of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture and various official cooperating parties will take part. The four-day inaugural program includes a vast array of activities, notably the opening of the “Cairo, Culture Capital in the Islamic World in Egyptian Archives” Exhibition organized by the General Authority for National Library and Archives, a book fair organized in cooperation between the General Authority for Books, the General Authority for Cultural Palaces and the National Center for Translation, a fine arts exhibition organized in cooperation between the Fine Arts Sector and the General Authority for Cultural Palaces, and an Arabic calligraphy exhibition organized by the Cultural Development Fund.
Before the start of the ceremony, Dr. Salim M. AlMalik, ICESCO Director-General (DG), Dr. Ines Abdel-Dayem, Egyptian Minister of Culture, and Major General Khaled Abdel Aal, Governor of Cairo, toured these exhibitions and listened to each presentation. They then answered the journalists’ questions during a press conference that saw the attendance of various Egyptian, Arab and foreign media outlets.
At the onset of the ceremony, ICESCO DG delivered an address in which he hailed the rich history of Cairo, the city of a thousand minarets, which was marked by the succession of several civilizations, and yet successfully preserved its prominence and heritage. He also reviewed Cairo’s most prominent luminaries and emblematic heritage sites, namely Al-Azhar Mosque, the Cairo Opera House and the House of Books.
Dr. AlMalik also praised the achievements that Cairo has undertaken within the framework of Egypt Vision 2030, the ambitious national strategy currently implemented under the auspices of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, to fulfill the hopes of the Egyptian peoples who “mastered the art of living, catch sun rays, and bring hope to all.”
ICESCO DG conveyed his thanks to the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, represented by Minister Ines Abdel-Dayem, and the Egyptian National Commission, represented by its Chairman, Dr. Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, Egyptian Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, President of ICESCO’s General Conference. In conclusion of his address, Dr. AlMalik extended his gratitude to all those who contributed to the celebration of Cairo, Culture Capital of the Islamic World, and recited a poem that he composed on Egypt and Cairo.
The Egyptian Minister of Culture began her address by thanking ICESCO and its Director-General for selecting Cairo as the culture capital in the Islamic world, noting that the city stands as a monument to harmonious coexistence, which earned the status of beacon of culture, civilization and enlightenment throughout ages, enumerating Cairo’s abundant landmarks that make the city a distinguished haven for cultural diversity.
She added that the celebration is a fresh, post-pandemic start for Cairo in 2022 that will enable the city to showcase its culture and civilization to the entire world through several cultural and artistic activities that reflect Cairo’s civilizational and cultural richness, which bear witness to the city’s ancient history.
ICESCO DG then handed over the flag of Cairo, Culture Capital in the Islamic World to the Egyptian Minister of Culture. The Minister then presented ICESCO DG with the celebration’s shield and a copy of the commemorative stamp issued by the Egyptian Postal Authority on this occasion.
The ceremony featured the announcement of the launch of an exceptional session of the Turathi Photography Competition, organized by the National Organization for Urban Harmony (NOUH), in cooperation with ICESCO, for photographers in Egypt and the other ICESCO Member States to draw inspiration from the abundance of the Islamic architectural heritage. The ceremony also featured the screening of a documentary entitled “Cairo,” produced by the Cinema Palace, and the “Here is Cairo” Operetta produced by the General Authority for Cultural Palaces, and concluded with an art show by the Sufi chanting troupe “Al-Hadra.”