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Concept note Identity, Culture and Heritage

Title of the Session

Identity, Culture and Heritage

 Time and Venue

16th June 2015, Marriott Zamalek – 2:00 pm-4:00 pm


Cultural Heritage is the source of our identity and the seal that brings us together as a nation. It is built on the goods that our ancestors have treasured and preserved over time. Learning about our own heritage helps us become more keenly aware about our own roots and understand the importance of other cultures and peoples. Finally, respect for heritage directly leads to intercultural dialogue.

Cultural Heritage and Identities have become priority areas in international academic research. Their interactions are fiercely debated topics in modern societies. With globalization, the issues of mutual or shared heritage are vibrant in politics (in the European Union in particular) as diversity in national identities and heritage programmes increasingly impact supranational entities that are developing or envisioned. Cultural heritage by definition is a collective and public notion belonging to the realm of public interest and held for the public good.

“Heritage” may be a relatively new (and wide-ranging) concept, however the word itself is rooted in ancient times and has accumulated a wealth of different connotations over time. As far as we are concerned, the term “heritage” relates to architectural objects, urban sites, artifacts that have been or are in the process of being recognized as tangible vestiges of bygone ages. “Heritagization” then is a process geared to convert exchange value into cultural value by enhancing objects and sites with new functions:

  • to serve as means to transmit knowledge and build up culture and identities;
  • as places where people can spend leisure time and contemplate aesthetic beauty; and
  • as driving forces for local and regional development, drawing in tourists and, hence, generating earnings.

Objectives of the session

  • Address challenges related to cultural heritage and identity preservation in Egypt.
  • Identify how current laws and legislation enable or prevent cultural preservation.
  • Explore the requirements for a paradigm shift towards culture and heritage, from a cost to a resource, from a challenge to an investment.
  • Learn from local and international examples to improve cultural preservation in Egypt.


  • Egypt Habitat Committee representatives
  • Public central and local authorities and agencies
  • Academia
  • Civil society organizations
  • Private sector companies
  • International Organizations and Donors
  • Media


Dr May El-Ibrashi, Ain Shams University, Megawra

Format of the session

02:00 – 02:20

Q1- Are we able to preserve the identity and the cultural heritage of our cities? Why is this important?

  • Dr. Galila El Kadi, Professor and Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement
  • Dr. Fethi Saleh, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Heritage

02:20 – 02:50

Q2- To what extent does the current law and legislations enable or prevent cultural preservation?

  • Dr. Ahmed Mansour, Architect
  • Dr. Riham Arram, Cairo Governorate, Director of Cairo Heritage Preservation Administration
  • Dr. Mona Zakaria, Professor

02:50 – 03:15

Q3- Is cultural preservation a cost or investment? How can we shift the conventional thinking that preserving cultural heritage is an investment rather than a cost? How can this paradigm shift be realized?

  • Mr. Samir Morcos, National Organization for Urban Harmony
  • Dr. Safia El-Kabbani, Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts
  • Mr. Choukri Asmar

03:15 – 03:30

Q4- How can we mobilize partners and investments in the cause of cultural heritage? What are local and international examples of this effort?

  • Dr. Alaa al-Habashi, Architect
  • Dr. Pierre Arnaud Bartel, AFD – integrating modernity with heritage
  • Dr. Husam Refai, Dean of the Faculty, Heritage Management Master

03:30 – 4:00

Discussions and Recommendations on way forward