Throughout history, Cairo has always been a melting pot, as it was home to different people from various religions and ethnicities, which has had a vast impact on its cultural landscape. Although Cairo is famously known for being home to different empires and dynasties, its recent economic and social issues have had an influence on the cultural make-up of the city. Today, Cairo is home to an increasing number of innovative initiatives and organizations that are bridging the gap between the rich history of the past and the technological advancements happening in the present, all of which carry the prospect of enhancing the cultural vibrancy of the city.
Cairo hosts a total of 170 cultural infrastructure points; some of which can be attributed to historical empires, like the Fatimid Dynasty and the Third Dynasty of ancient Egypt, whereas others have been established in more recent years. The Egyptian capital has 21 “sites and landmarks”, some dating as far back as 2050 BC56. Mosques, churches and synagogues can be seen across the urban fabric, further indicating Cairo’s status as a multi-faith city. “Museums” are an important sub-indicator as the city has 30 of them, many of which house historical and archeological artifacts, whilst others celebrate national figures like Um Kalthoum and Ahmed Shawki. In an effort to bridge the gap between the past and the present, the function of “museums” is being repurposed as a “new department dedicated to fostering greater awareness among Egyptians of their ancient past has been opened, [to] both encourage people to assist in protecting and understanding the past and help them to acquire skills for the future.”57 The “sites and landmarks” and “museums” reveal that Cairo’s history has had a profound influence on its cultural vibrancy.
Home to 22.8 million people, Cairo has 17 “universities” that offer degrees in the creative or cultural field. “Universities” in Cairo grew in number between the 1970s until the mid-1980s58. Although the majority of the “universities” have been established within the past 50 years, Al Azhar University was founded in 97559, making it one of the oldest universities in the world. Whilst Cairo’s past is an important contributor to the cultural landscape, in the past decade, several sub-indicators have played a vital role in shaping the city. Thanks to its technical capacity to produce mainstream films since 1934, Egypt is recognized as the “Hollywood of the Middle East,”60 with Cairo being home to 29 “cinemas”.
Cairo’s innovation clusters come to a total of 29 that include “the interactive and visual arts along hand with technology and multimedia, [which] play an important role in re-sculpting the Egyptian cultural identity with its principles.”61 Out of the 13 “incubators and accelerators” in Cairo, 89 percent were founded after 2011, as well as one of the two “urban districts” known as the Greek Campus. The rise in innovation clusters emerged after the 2011 Egyptian Revolution and is considered “an unforeseen effect of the 2011 revolution and, some say, paved the way for a new era of opportunity for young Egyptians.”62 Cairo’s rich history compelled with the recent advancement in technology, as a means to diversify the job market, have had a significant impact on the cultural vibrancy of the city.
The research was concluded in December 2019
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