Egypt was the first non-European country where Hungary opened a cultural institute. The Hungarian Scientific and Cultural Centre started its activities in 1974. At the request of the Egyptian government, in 1977 the institute was transformed into The Office of the Cultural Counsellor, functioning as part of the Hungarian Embassy in Cairo. In spite of this change in the name, the new Office could maintain a continuous Hungarian cultural presence in Cairo.
In 1980 the cultural representation shifted from the villa serving as its previous location to a rented property in the heart of the downtown, used earlier by the Embassy as a Press Office. The Office at the Gawad Hosni Street, in the middle of the commercial and banking quarter of Cairo, occupies the second floor of a three-storey building. Though it is easy to reach, still the visitor has to face the traffic congestion and parking difficulties of the area.
The Office of the Hungarian Cultural Counsellor in Cairo now fulfils mainly cultural diplomatic tasks, i.e. takes part in the implementation of the Hungarian-Egyptian cultural working programme, the bilateral Scientific and Technological Agreement, the agreement between the two Science Academies and the direct agreements between several universities.
The Cultural Office has always considered one of its main tasks to support the work of Hungarian Egyptologists and scholars of Arabic language and culture. The cultural mission frequently organises scientific conferences and lectures in co-operation with Egyptian universities and scientific research institutes. It also helps the scientific research work of those Hungarian scholarship-holders, who travel to Egypt in the frameworks of bilateral agreements.
The Office in Cairo also fulfils tasks in the field of building cultural ties and organising programmes. Cultural events and programmes are mainly held at venues outside the Office: at the Cairo Opera House or in other cultural institutions. During the recent years the most remarkable events were The Millennium Programme Series lasting for one complete year, and also the Days of Hungarian Culture, the Hungarian Cultural Festival during the Spring and Autumn of 2001. More and more events are held at its own premises, too.
At the Office there is a library consisting of four thousand volumes, a reading room and exhibition hall and an auditorium suitable for screening movies. The Section of Egyptology provides office and store-room for the Hungarian archaeological missions working in Egypt. The Office rents two flats to accommodate the expeditions and the scholarship-holders.
Besides the Cultural Counsellor the staff includes a Hungarian part-time employee and three local colleagues fulfilling administrative and technical tasks.
Exhibition hall of the Hungarian Cultural Office
Screening hall of the Hungarian Cultural Office