Mexico-Egypt, a “Triple D Model” case of success in the cultural sphere

José Octavio Tripp
Monday 15 Nov 2021

Mexico and Egypt are a quintessential case of success in the cultural field. Their interaction in that sphere is dynamic, diverse, and little by little turns into a deep relationship, outlining a virtual circle characterized by a “triple D.”

First D: Dynamism. The empirical evidence of the bilateral relationship in the cultural sphere shows its dynamism in an obvious way: 25 Mexican cultural events have been implemented in the last five years in Cairo, Alexandria, and Ismailia.In other words, between 2016 and 2021, an average of five activities per year have been organized by Mexico and Egypt. This is a very positive sign between two countries geographically distant from each other.

The COVID pandemic affected that dynamic seriously in 2020. Nevertheless, once the initial shock passed, Mexico and Egypt migrated to online several activities. This new system allowed both parties to initiate a new academic and cultural dialogue: virtual chats.

Second D: Diversity. This characteristic is easily verifiable as the 25 activities previously quoted include visual and performing arts such as cinema, painting, photography, sculpture, theatre and dance in addition to literature and music.

During the last five years, Mexican film directors, scriptwriters, actors and actresses like Michel Franco, Guillermo Arriaga, and Naian Gonzalez Norvind, among many others, have visited Egypt. Additionally, Mexican films have participated in the leading international Egyptian film festivals in Cairo, Ismailia, and El Gouna, winning different awards in all of them.

In theatre, as recently as last month, a mini troupe of Mexican artists won the leading award of the Cairo Monodrama Festival.

In the same period, four Mexican painters participated in collective exhibitions, including Spaik and Cix. Both drew a mural titled “Encounter of Civilizations,” located at El-Gezirah park, next to the Nile. Also, the prestigious sculptor Jorge Marin displayed his monumental work “The Wings of Mexico” in the garden of the Cairo Opera House for a whole month.

In the musical field, this recap reveals several visits of bands and singers coming from diverse genres: opera (Jessica Loaiza), pop (Paco Reintería), and folkloric (Mariachi Garibaldi). Similar success has happened with the dance groups, one of them participating a few days ago at the Ismailia Folkloric Festival.

The cultural presence was diverse for its origin as well, involving public and private activities. Also, several initiatives have been developed with and without government intervention, showing an exciting private and public dynamism in this sector.

The cultural presence of Egypt in Mexico has been less intense but very successful. Egypt, for example, has repeatedly won the “Festival of World Cultures” annually held in Mexico City (currently suspended by the pandemic), and the Pharaonic exhibition of 2005 received the most significant number of visitors in the history of art exhibitions in Mexico.

Furthermore, as soon as the pandemic allows it, Egypt will be the guest of honor at the Guanajuato Film Festival, which takes place in the same city where the Cervantino Festival is held, the most important cultural festival in Mexico.

Third D: Depth. This element has not yet been achieved in the Mexico-Egypt cultural interaction. To reach this “quantum leap,” it is necessary to forge closer links between the creative industries of both countries. This could result in their members having the opportunity to participate in new markets: Egypt and the Arab world for Mexicans and Mexico and Latin America for Egyptians.

Music and dance, where the language challenge is more manageable, could be an initial platform to promote a progressive connection between the respective cultural communities.

In literature, cinema, and theatre, systematic interaction through seminars and workshops would be an excellent start to trigger more ambitious goals in the future. Meanwhile, mutual participation in film festivals in both countries is appropriate to advance and discover each other.

Next year, the Mexican Embassy in Egypt plans to complete the First Mexican Novel Translation Contest, whose current call is still open, with around 200 Egyptian interpreters registered so far. Also being considered are the visit of two prestigious Mexican writers, one muralist, a photographic exhibition, and a binational cartoon exposition with Egyptian cartoonists showing their work in Mexico and, conversely, Mexicans in Egypt.

In this way, Mexico and Egypt will continue promoting the diversity and dynamics in the Mexico - Egypt cultural interaction and advancing at the same time the desired depth to reach the third “D” in the bilateral cultural relations.

*José Octavio Tripp, is the Ambassador of Mexico to Egypt

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