The last 10 years have seen exciting developments in the contemporary arts scene across the Middle East and North Africa and Cairo is one of the key hotspots. 

Organisations like the Ford Foundation, places such as The Townhouse Gallery and educational institutions like the American University in Cairo have opened up an international dialogue and have given artists an exposure to new mediums and professional training. The art scene in Cairo has flourished.

Alongside has been a flowering of craft, driven partly by economic factors but also by the passion and vision of key organisations such as the Aga Khan Foundation and individuals such as Shahira Mehrez and Amr Abdel Kami. Practitioners are recognising the rich cultural heritage of Egypt from Pharaonic times and throughout the Islamic period. During the centuries of foreign occupation, the European influence symbolised for Egypt both a quest for modernity but also a burden in terms of national identity and a local artistic language.

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Glassblower's Studio in The City of The Dead, Cairo 2008 (courtesy of Janis Jefferies)