Under the slogan, “One Nation with Multiple Cultures and Palestine is in the Heart," Egyptian Minister of Culture Ines Abdel-Dayem and Secretary-General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Youssef Bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen inaugurated the first edition of the organisation’s cultural and artistic festival at the Cairo Opera House on 5 February.
The festival’s guest of honour is Tanzania and the activities of the festival, ongoing until 9 February at the Cairo Opera House Main Hall, are held in cooperation with the ministries of culture, foreign affairs, youth, sports and antiquities.
The ceremonies were attended by a number of the ambassadors of the organisation’s member countries and their communities in Cairo.
Abdel-Dayem stressed that throughout the ages Egypt has endeavoured to preserve Arab and Islamic identity. “Egypt is the land of multiple cultures which has given it a leading position in the Arab region. It has the power to face challenges and invasions that tried to influence its character,” she added.
“The first edition of the festival sends a message to the world about the noble values of Islam, which call for tolerance, coexistence, fraternity, equality and understanding of the other; and denounce violence, extremism, and terrorism. It also aims to strengthen relations between the member states in the OIC and bring together their societies despite their different cultures and their diversity.
For his part, Al-Othaimeen thanked Egypt, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, the government and the people for hosting the first edition of the festival, which presents a map of the cultural and humanitarian heritage of OIC member states.
He also thanked Saudi Arabia for supporting the organisation’s initiatives that aim at promoting and strengthening relations among the peoples of Islamic countries, in addition to highlighting their cultural values, customs and traditions.
“The festival is a message to the world that expresses moderate Islam and promotes the values of equality and rejection of violence. This is reflected in the selection of Tanzania as the guest of honour for the first edition,” he said.
Al-Othaimeen also praised the role of all participants, including ministries and other organisations and bodies that helped the festival come to light.
Jointly, Abdel-Dayem and Al-Othaimeen honoured four prominent figures in the Muslim world: First Lady of Burkina Faso Sika Kaboré, Sheikh Islamullah Shukr Pasha Zadeh, Caucasus Mufti of Azerbaijan, former Saudi Arabian Minister of Foreign Affairs Nizar Bin Obaid Madani, and Egyptian poet Farouk Goweida.
Shields of recognition were exchanged between Abdel-Dayem and Al-Othaimeen on behalf of the Ministry of Culture and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
The opening ceremony was directed by artist Hisham Attwa and began with the Egyptian national anthem followed by a recitation of verses from the Holy Quran and the screening of a documentary about the organisation and its history and important achievements.
A number of folk dance shows were performed by the Egyptian folk troupes Toshka and Marsa Matruh as well as folk troupes from Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan and Senegal. Canaan troupe for music and folklore from Palestine also performed.
Prior to this, a number of exhibitions were opened at Al-Hanager Arts Centre and its outer space that reflect the variety in culture of the countries of the Islamic world, including in traditional crafts, food and fine arts, as well as an exhibition for the products of some institutions affiliated with the OIC.
Another exhibition showcases handcrafted products from the King Salman Centre for Relief, Humanitarian Affairs and the stages of development of holy sites in Saudi Arabia.