About Us Cultural Relations

The cultural exchanges between the two great civilizations of India and Egypt have existed since the Pharaonic times.  The first cultural Agreement between the two nations was signed in 1958 which envisaged establishing cultural institutes in each other’s territory.  With the setting up of the Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC) as a Cultural Wing under the Embassy of India in Cairo, the spirit of that cultural exchange has seen an institutional embodiment.

Two important aspects were considered for opening an Indian Cultural Centre in Egypt: 1) Cairo’s great importance as an intellectual and cultural center of the Arab World and Africa.

2) Long and rich history of cultural exchange between the two civilizations.

MACIC was inaugurated on 14th January 1992, by Mr. Madhav Singh Solanki, the then Foreign Minister of India, in the presence of Mr. Farouk Hosny, the Minister of Culture of Egypt, and Mr. Amr Moussa, the then Foreign Minister of Egypt. It was named after Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (1888-1958), a distinguished scholar, educationist and statesman, who was the first Education Minister of India and the founding President of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Maulana Azad fought for India’s freedom alongside Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. A symbol of the pluralistic and secular ethos of India, Maulana Azad laid the basis for independent India’s educational and cultural policies and contributed significantly to the scientific and cultural methods of inquiry. He made significant contributions to Islamic studies and wrote a brilliant commentary of the Quran “Tarjuman Al-Quran”. Maulana Azad had a special interest in cultural exchanges with other civilisations and nations. He founded the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and encouraged cultural cooperation between Asia and Africa. He visited Egypt and had a special affinity for Egypt’s great civilization.

Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) was established as the Cultural arm of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, and formally inaugurated in April 1950 with the primary objective of establishing, reviving and strengthening cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and other countries. MACIC is one of the Cultural Centres under ICCR.

MACIC conducts regular academic programmes and sessions in Hindi, Urdu, and Indian dance forms, and organizes academic seminars, film shows, exhibitions, and cultural festivals from time to time.  

“Glimpses of India Painting Exhibition” is the annual painting exhibition organised in association with the Ministry of Education of Egypt.  “Glimpses of India” is more than just a competition, it’s a bridge of interactions between India and Egypt.  Over the past 28 years, Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC) in Cairo has been organizing this annual painting competition in cooperation with the Ministries of Education, Culture and Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt.  The competition was held for the first time in 1994 with the main objective to inculcate interest in India and Indian culture among successive generation of youth in Egypt and thereby promote stronger people to people ties.  The 26th edition of the “Glimpses of India” painting competition was held from 12-14 December 2022.   Around 4600 students from 431 schools enthusiastically participated in the competition organised at eight different locations in the seven Egyptian Governorates and depicted wide range of themes related to India’s culture, civilization, tourist destinations and also India-Egypt Relations. The Mission has also published the winner entries of the painting competition on the special edition of table-calendars printed for distribution to the participants and other dignitaries after the competition was over and winners declared.

In cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, MACIC screens Indian films in Hanager Theater, Cairo Opera House and Cinema Culture Palace, Garden City every month.

‘Sawtul-Hind’, Embassy’s flagship Arabic magazine, is also published regularly since.  The first edition of magazine was published in 1952 and it continues to be an interface between India and Egypt and the Arab world at large.

In its outreach activities, the Cultural Centre also organizes India Day(s) in sports clubs, sports centres, culture palaces, schools and institutes in different cities of Egypt. Under the auspices of MACIC, cultural groups from India perform in various cities of Egypt, making the presence of India felt at all the major festivals of Egypt.

As far as academic arena is concerned, a number of Egyptian students have benefited from ICCR and other scholarship schemes to study in India.  The MoU for first ICCR Chair was signed with the Ain Shams University in March 2016 and accordingly, the Indian Chair on Bioinformatics commenced in September 2016 and continued till 2018.

Yoga has gained popularity in Egypt with more than 50 schools of Yoga in Cairo, besides centers in other cities. For the eighth consecutive year, the International Day of Yoga (IDY) was celebrated on 21 June 2022 with main event organized on 21 June 2022 at Al Azhar Park, Cairo. Al Azhar Park is one of the most prominent parks in Egypt built and managed by Aga Khan Cultural Services. A live feed of the programme was provided to Doordarshan as part of the ‘Guardian Ring’ initiative.  More than 500 people from different walks of life and age groups, members of Diplomatic Corps participated in the Yoga Day celebration. Egyptian Minister of Youth and Sports, Dr. Ashraf Sobhy, attended the event as the Chief Guest. In his address, the Minister stressed on deep-rooted relations between Egypt and India in various fields and expressed his desire to further promote bilateral relations in the field of youth affairs and sports. He strongly recommended the practice of Yoga and praised it as a “heritage of India”.  Prior to International Day of Yoga several curtain raiser events were organized at iconic places such as Alexandria Bibliotheca (Alexandria Library), Sharm El-Sheikh Museum, Sharm El-Sheikh, Konark Temple, Luxor and Hurghada, Red Sea etc.  These Yoga events were aimed to increase the awareness about Yoga in different parts of Egypt and at the same time to popularize the Egyptian iconic tourism places in India. Several Yoga workshops were also organized at various schools, malls, libraries, clubs etc prior to the main event. There are seven regular Yoga batches at MACIC – from Beginners to Advanced levels with 142 registered regular yoga students. 

The strong ties between India and Egypt are evident from the affection towards India amongst the Egyptian population. Three streets in Cairo are named after Indian leaders namely, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr. Zakir Hussein. There are three busts of Mahatma Gandhi – 1) At the Supreme Council of Culture, Cairo, 2) Al-Horriya Park, Cairo, 3) At the Bibliotheca, Alexandria. On the other hand, Gamal Abdul Nasser Marg in Delhi is named after the late President of Egypt.

With the objective of ensuring direct online accessibility to the Centre, MACIC has its pages on popular social media platforms like Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ICCREgypt), Twitter ([at]ICCR_Egypt), Instagram ([at]ICCR_Egypt) and YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQ-U6DDxNCRwaBba1uQbVvQ). 

MACIC Director: Shri D.S. Meena
MACIC Address: 3, Abu El Feda Street, Zamalek, Cairo
Tel. No. : 2737-1995 / Fax No.: 2737-1996
Email: macic[at]indembcairo[dot]com