17.05.2019 “Cultural Heritage In Cyberspace”: A DAAD-Funded Project That Brought An Egyptian Delegation To Germany In Cooperation With The CNMS
The project “Cultural Heritage in Cyberspace” is sponsored by the DAAD’s German-Egyptian Progress Partnership program. The idea behind it evolved in early 2018, based on a continuous communication with Egyptian academic institutions and scholars that dates back to the early nineties. Several visits carried out by the CNMS-Islamic studies’ scholars have allowed a better understanding of the essential academic needs of the institutes in Egypt and the conceivable methods German universities and research centers can offer to mutually benefit from cooperation in future academic-projects. The same counts for an exchange of expertise from the Egyptian to the German side as there is already, besides the vast existence of manuscripts, an experienced know how in Egypt to deal with cultural heritage in order to make it vital for the future.
The project rises from the CNMS-Islamic Studies’ ambition for building an interdisciplinary and a more inclusive academic environment that guarantees and facilitates accessibility to research material for scholars, developing more effectual academic-curricula in Bibliothecography, Oriental Manuscripts, Digital Humanities, Arabic and Islamic studies. Moreover, presenting innovative techniques for the promotion and preservation of cultural heritage.
For this initial step of the project, a weeklong-workshop was organized by Prof. Dr. Albrecht Fuess and Hala Ghoname from the CNMS-Islamic Studies. Egyptian Participants were Prof. Dr. Hesham Azmi, Chairman of the Egyptian National Library and Archives, Dār ālkūtūb w ālwṯāʾīq, Head of the Supreme Council of Culture, Prof. Dr. Atef Mansour, Dean of the Faculty of Archaeology at Fayoum University, and Prof. Dr. Muhammed Younis, Associate Professor of Islamic Archaeology.
The aim was to explore and exchange knowledge and perspectives on the theme of cultural heritage digitization, besides creating future cooperation links/projects for mutual benefit. The workshop’s activities started in Marburg, where the delegates visited the new university library. The Philipps-Universität Marburg’s new library was opened in 2018 and is one of the most modern of its kind in Germany. Afterwards, the delegation moved to Leipzig to visit the Arabic manuscripts’ section of their collection and to be introduced to the long-term project “Bibliotheca Arabica” of Prof. Dr. Verena Klemm. Bibliotheca Arabica aims to gain new insights into Arabic literature from 1150 to 1850 CE by combining literary and manuscript studies. After Leipzig, followed a full day workshop at the MENALIB (The Middle East and North Africa Virtual Library) in Halle, where Dr. Volker Adam and his team explained their efforts in digitizing books and their online publishing strategies, which might be of interest to Arab scholars. In Gotha, the Egyptian Delegation visited the collection of over 3000 Oriental manuscripts, which were bought in the early 19th century by the princes of Gotha mainly in Egypt.
The visit was then concluded at the Egyptian embassy in Berlin, upon a generous invitation from His Excellency Dr. Badr Abdelatty, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Arab Republic of Egypt to Germany.
In his welcoming speech, Ambassador Dr. Abdelatty emphasized the importance of such projects in preserving and promoting Egyptian cultural heritage. The evening then continued with commentaries on the project by the participating delegates; Prof. Dr. Hesham Azmi declared, representing all delegates, that during the visit already concrete ideas concerning follow up projects had evolved and that the project participants were unanimous in their will to make them successful.
Accredited ambassadors, such as H.E. Mr. Talal AlAmine, the Ambassador of the League of Arab States, and H.E. Mr. Abdulla Al Shaikh Abdulla, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain, attended the closing event, besides officials of the German Foreign Ministry, German Academic Exchange Services DAAD, a number of German citizens and members of the Egyptian community in Germany.
Furthermore, the workshop has received an extensive media coverage in Egypt; reports on the project and it’s closing event have been published in almost all national Egyptian newspapers and official websites including major state-newspapers; Al-Gomhuria, Al-Ahram, Al-Akhbar, and Al-youm Alsabi’.
Selected media reports on the project: