Robert Bosch Cultural Managers in the Arab World

Northern Upper Egypt

Northern Upper Egypt has been covered by the Robert Bosch Cultural Manager Program since 2005.

In comparison to the major cities of Cairo and Alexandria in the North and the world-famous monuments of Luxor and Aswân in the South, Middle Egypt is not as much of interest for tourists despite the region having plenty to offer and a rich history. Situated between El Minya and Asyût, Tell el Amarna is the place where Pharaoh Akhenaten once built his new capital city. His queen Nefertiti still remains the symbol of El Minya to this day. With a history stretching back over 6,000 years, the oasis city of El Faiyûm is the oldest city in Egypt and one of the oldest in Africa. Near the city of Beni Suef lies the lesser-known – but historically remarkable – step pyramid of Meidum. Today, the cities of Asyût, El Minya, Beni Suef, and El Faiyûm are centers of administration and commerce for the agricultural land along the Nile and the oases.

The Robert Bosch Cultural Manager Program’s main cooperation partners in the region are state-run cultural centers, universities, cultural institutions as well as independent groups that formed following the revolution in Egypt. The Cultural Manager not only works in the provincial capitals, but also organizes activities in the surrounding villages.
Esther Wagner, born in Trier in 1989, studied Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies as well as Arabic at the University Sciences Po in Menton (France). For her MSc she attended the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. Throughout her studies she put a strong emphasis on studying political societies of the Middle East, social movements and theories of political change, urbanism as well as Arabic political philosophy. She improved her Arabic and deepened her knowledge of the Arabic culture during her studies at the French Institute for the Near East (IFPO) in Beirut.

Esther strengthened her intercultural skills through various stays in the region, for example during her internship at the Palestinian Center for Peace and Democracy in Ramallah. There, she designed an independent research project on the situation and importance of women within Palestinian society in the West Bank. Her findings were published as a book called “Women like Us”.

She gained valuable experience in project and event management during her traineeship at the Directorate of Policy Planning at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, her internship at the Berlin think tank ECFR as well as working for a Turkish NGO in Ankara as part of the European Civil Service.

Esther is Robert Bosch Cultural Manager in Northern Upper Egypt.

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Language creates reality – a poetry slam workshop in Hurghada

From 18-21 June 2017, two poetry slammers Youssef Adlah and Leila El-Amaire from Berlin carried out a poetry slam workshop in Hurghada. For four days they were working with students from the German School in Hurghada. Together they explored their creative potential, wrote texts, discussed them, and learned how to perform them. Leila and Youssef are the founders of “I, Slam”, an initiative that seeks to support young, muslim, german artists to position themselves within society. This initiative has created a wide space over the past years for several phenomenal artists to be heard and seen. The workshop was rich in content and especially enriching was the encounter and exchange between the poetry slammers and the students.

Copyright Photo: Severin Bunse
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Goethe Film Week in El Minya

For the third time, the Goethe Film Week took place not only in Cairo, but also in several selected cities in Egypt’s provinces due to the activities of the Robert Bosch Cultural Managers. In the Northern part of Upper Egypt, the Film Week took place in the city of El Minya, whose university hosts a large German language department. From 1-3 June 2017, five different German, Egyptian, and Saudi movies were screened and discussed with a large crowd of students at the NGO Alwanat. The highlight of this year’s film week was the discussion with the famous filmmaker Nadine Salib after watching her documentary movie “Mother of the Unborn”.

Copyright Photo: KM Filmwoche
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El Quseir throughout the change of time – القصير بعيون الماضي والحاضر

El Quseir has been inhabited, conquered and shaped by several civilizations over the past 4,000 years. People from all over the world traveled through the port of this city. "El Quseir throughout the change of time" is a project that deals with the diverse and rich historical past of El Quseir, but at the same time challenges the participants to explore how the inhabitants of the city nowadays live and interact with the city. The participants of this project - architects and artists from Cairo and El Quseir - explored the history and architecture of the buildings in El Quseir and drew them. They examined the multilayered relationship between the city, its residents as well as the Red Sea and contrasted their own experiences with those of old travel journals. The project took place in cooperation with two partner organizations from Cairo, Megawra and Cairo Urban Sketchers, from 2-8 February 2017.

Copyright Photo: Amr Rabie
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Stories from Asyut – A Comic Workshop with Titus Ackermann

How do I tell stories in a comic form? How do I divide my story into pictures? How do I create characters for my comic? In a three day comic workshop with the artist Titus Ackermann, a group of 10 comic lovers from Asyut had the chance to learn more about comics as an art form and got to develop and draw their own stories. The event took placein cooperation with Egypt Comix Week in the cultural place Robabikia from 8-11 December 2016.

Copyright Photo: Abadeer Maher 
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Hurghada and I – One City, Many Stories

Hurghada? What is life like in this city? What do you like about living there, what is special about the place? How is it similar to other cities in this world? These were some of the questions that a group of students from the German School in Hurghada asked each other and dealt with within the framework of a comic workshop. The workshop was guided by the comic artists Mohammed Wahba and Jeff Hemmer. It took place from 1-5 December 2016as part of the Egypt Comix Week, a yearly event organized by the publishing house Sefsafa, which brings comic artists from all over the word together to discuss and present their latest works. During the workshop the students developed stories about their lives and their city, produced Zines and showed their works to friends and family in a final exhibition at the Cultural Center Red Sea.

Copyright Photo: Esther Wagner
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El Minya – Time to dance

This summer, the cultural NGO Alwanat from the city of El Minya founded the first ballet school in Upper Egypt. Under the guidance of the prominent solo dancers from the Cairo Opera House, Ahmed Nabil and Alice de Nardi, a group of 13 ballet students participated in a two week long intensive ballet workshop. Together with Ahmed Nabil and Alice de Nardi the ballet students rehearsed a dance from the Nutcracker ballet and finally - as part of the German Week in Upper Egypt organized by the German Embassy Cairo - performed their work in front of approximately 1,600 spectators at the theatre of the University El Minya on 22 November 2016. This ballet performance was the first of its kind in El Minya.

Copyright Photo: Melad Atef
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"Lebenswelten" – A documentary workshop for young women Part 2

Designed as a follow-up workshop to the one on storytelling techniques organized by the Robert Bosch Cultural Manager Dominik Reich in 2015, this workshop was designed to teach the participants the theory of cinematography and support them in filming a short clip themselves. From 12-13 August 2016, ten young women from the cities of El Minya and Mallawi came together and were trained by the German filmmaker Francesca Araiza Andrade and her assistant coach Nouran Hatem -a recent graduate of the Raise Your Voice Initiative from Cairo- in how to use a camera, how to compose a picture or how to take light into account when filming. The participants did a wonderful job and quickly managed to turn theory into practice when they were asked to come up with a story board and shoot a one minute movie by the end of the workshop. This training session was aimed at encouraging women to participate in the shaping of a film-making scene in the city of El Minya.

Copyright Photo: Melad Atef
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Goethe Film Week in Asyut

For the second time this year, the Goethe Film Week took place not only in Cairo, but also in several selected cities in Egypt’s provinces due to the activities of the Robert Bosch Cultural Managers. In the northern part of Upper Egypt, the Film Week was held in the city of Asyut, about 400 km south of Cairo. From 21-22 July 2016, four different movies were screened at a bookshop Wamda that also functions as a cultural hub in the city. The program, which consisted of three the German movies “Bornholmer Straße”, “A Godsend”, and “Labyrinth of lies” and an Egyptian comedy called “Dry Hot Summers”, was well received by the audience.  The event was visited by around 60 people.

Copyright Photo: Mostafa Kamal
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The Goethe Library Bus on Tour in El Minya

Once a month, under the guidance of the project manager Haytham Shokry, the Goethe Library Bus tours the Nile Delta region of Egypt, stopping at schools and public institutions to organize various activities centered on books and reading for children and young adults. In joint cooperation, Haytham Shokry and the Robert Bosch Cultural Manager Esther Wagner organized a trip of the library bus to the governorate of El Minya, which suffers from the highest rate of illiteracy - standing at 36,7 % - in the country. With the support of two local NGOs, Alwanat and Masr el Kheir, she managed to visit plenty of small villages from 10- 15 July 2016, where access to books for children and youngsters is close to impossible. In several villagesshe had the chance to interact with more than 200 children and to encourage their interest in books and joy in reading through several games as well as interactive storytelling activities.

Copyright Photo: Melad Atef