1 August 2010
Two French Development Agency (AFD) grant agreements totalling 1.5 million Euros were recently signed with the Egyptian government.
The first grant of one million Euros, from the French Global Environment Facility, will finance expertise and technical support to pilot projects to improve public transportation in Greater Cairo. The project will promote an efficient, integrated, multimodal, mass transport system, and also contribute to awareness campaigns and capacity building within stakeholders, on sustainable transport issues.
The project is complementary to the French contribution to Cairo Metro Line 3, which comprised a soft loan of 200 million Euros and a credit facility of 44 million Euros, as well as a 600,000-Euro grant for capacity building within the Egyptian Metro Company.
The second recent grant, which amounts to 500,000 Euros, will finance the development of the archaeological site of Saqqara. The objective is to fortify the status of Saqqara and its vicinity as a magnet for both national and international visitors, generating revenues on the long term, while preserving its natural and human environment. The site selection, done in close cooperation with the Supreme Council of Antiquities, reflects its historical importance as a site listed among the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Since its opening in Cairo in February 2007, AFD has financed 11 projects in Egypt at a total of some 300 million Euros, mainly in the water, transportation and environment sectors.
Global Entrepreneurship Programme
The United States Embassy in Cairo has officially launched Egypt as the first pilot country in President Obama’s Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP). US Ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey and representatives from the US State Department, the US Foreign Commercial Service, and USAID welcomed more than 50 representatives of Egyptian and American organisations that have committed to supporting entrepreneurship in Egypt under the new programme. The GEP brings US and local partners together to work around six main goals related to supporting entrepreneurship in Egypt: identifying opportunities, training aspiring entrepreneurs, connecting and sustaining them, assisting with access to funding, enabling policy decisions, and celebrating entrepreneurial successes in Egypt.
Partners to the GEP include, among others, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, the Egyptian Junior Business Association, the American University in Cairo, the U.S.-Egypt Business Leaders Forum, the American Chamber of Commerce, Google, and Nile University.
The Egyptian-Japanese University for Science and Technology (E-JUST) was recently opened as a national Egyptian university, established to afford a science research à la Japanese style and to be a vital centre in Egypt, the Middle East, the Arab world and Africa. Attending the opening ceremony were Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Hani Helal, Minister of International Cooperation Fayza Aboulnaga, Japan’s ambassador to Cairo Kaoru Ishikawa, President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Sadako Ogata, and Chairman of Mitsubishi Corporation Mikio Sasaki. In the presence of a political, public, and academic figures as well as business and civil society representatives from both Egypt and Japan, an agreement on cooperation in Science and Technology was signed between Egypt and Japan.
According to an agreement between the Binational Fulbright Commission in Egypt and the Ministry of Higher Education, Fulbright announced an international exchange programme for educational opportunities, professional development and exposure to American society to approximately 150 students from Egypt at US Community Colleges. Grant duration ranges from one to two years and results in either a Certificate or an Associate Degree. The programme begins this month and offers in-country English language training for up to eight months prior to travel.
Cairo Forum 2010
A forum on “Cultural Heritage and Economic Development: Handicraft, a tool for sustainability” was recently held in Cairo. The forum and accompanying exhibition were arranged by the Union for the Mediterranean in cooperation with the economic commission at the French Embassy and the Egyptian Industrial Modernisation Centre. The idea was to raise awareness of the importance of traditional arts and handicrafts, including affording marketing opportunities for artists, producers and craftsmen.
The forum and exhibition showcased the diverse array of handicrafts produced in the Mediterranean region, stressing that this diversity transmitted history and tradition as a powerful means of expression of cultural heritage. The event was pivotal in addressing how cultural heritage, arts, and crafts are keys to job creation and economic sustainability. Four thematic workshops gave participants, who included some notable designers and artists, an opportunity to exchange knowledge and best practices.
The forum concluded with the formal signing of a document dedicated to building economic development tools, preserve traditional skills for transmission as crucial components of living heritage, as well as surveying and documenting craft skills.
A new modern Japanese-Arabic dictionary is now on the market. Al-Qamoos al-Assaassi:Yabani Arabi (The Basic Dictionary: Japanese Arabic) was published as a joint effort between the Japan Foundation Programme which is concerned with translating and publishing Japanese books into Arabic, and the Egyptian Dar al-Shorouq publishing house. The dictionary, which was translated by Egyptian professors of Japanese Language at Cairo University, is tailored to the needs of Arabic language native speakers. In 1012 pages it includes 2981 entries plus a simplified explanation of Japanese basic grammar.
Middle East music
Last July has seen the Middle East Ensemble of the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) tour Egypt, performing in places as wide apart as Ismailiya in the East and Beni Sweif in Lower Egypt. A workshop was organised by the US embassy in Cairo for the ensemble and some 100 music students in Egypt to tackle the topic of ethnomusicology and dance.
The UCSB Middle East Ensemble (MEE) was founded in 1989 and has ever since performed widely all over the world. It includes a 55-member band as well as a choir and dancers. Its repertoire, which reflects the wealth of ethnic music in the Middle East, is varied and ranges from the classic to the religious, folkloric, or lullabies. The ensemble uses the traditional music instruments in the Middle East such as the simple Egyptian string instrument, the rabaaba and the Egyptian flute, the mizmaar, in addition to a collection of traditional Middle Eastern drums.
Fête de la Musique
At its 29th annual Fête de la Musique (Music Festival) Egypt saw two nights of enchanting tunes organised by the French Centre for Culture and Cooperation, the Egyptian Culture Ministry, and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, in partnership with the festival Les Eurockéennes des Belfort.
The two-day festival started with the Egyptian Project, a mix of Egyptian traditional music and French electronic music. The festival also hosted Sawah, a collaborative music project that blends the authentic coastal tunes of Port Said, presented by al-Tanboura and the French-Moroccan singer Hindi Zahra and her band.
The Egyptian project was inspired by Jérôme Ettinger, musician and artistic director of Togezer Productions, who created a repertoire of traditional and modern music in collaboration with Egyptian musicians he met during his travels and concerts. The experience thrilled audiences in both Cairo and Alexandria, who enthusiastically joined in. The concerts were held, with admittance free of charge, at the medieval Saladin citadel in Cairo and at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria.