By Hadeel Hegazy
A new nonprofit cultural foundation in Egypt aiming to assist the development of critical mentality in Egyptian society, the Doum Cultural Foundation, has been established in Giza. Doum’s mission is to encourage the culture of questioning because “without questions, the path to enlightenment cannot progress,” as cited on their website.
Doum’s headquarters are located in Agouza where their workshops and activities are held. Doum believes that “we are living a critical historical moment in the history of Egypt and the Arab World, a moment in which the youth, which makes up more than two thirds of Egypt’s population, is thirsting for knowledge and ready to take on something new,” as stated on their website. The vision of the foundation is further explained as adopting “a cultural strategy that seeks the delivering of knowledge to the largest number of people in various places. Through asking questions, people can attain the kind of knowledge that suits the phase we live in.”
Doum, which is the name of an Egyptian fruit used to make a a popular beverage, is founded by the Egyptian novelist Khaled El-Khamesy, who is famous for the book Taxi. The official opening of Doum will take place on 25 September in spite of the fact that its activities have already started.
Doum organises workshops and cultural activities. “We organise different artistic workshops every month, for example the Drawing using Textile workshop, a workshop in patchwork, and Wire Sculpture: Incorporating metal wire in Jewelry Making workshop; an art which goes back to the second dynasty of Egypt,” said Essam Nasr, the manager of the centre. Nasr said that both kinds of art had been popular among ancient Egyptians, “both art forms have great history and are considered among the authentic ancient Egyptian arts. Doum is trying to revive them in modern Egypt,” Nasr added.
The Doum Caricature Academy is another activity that targets cartoonists that already have developed some skills. “The school aims to give students the experience and tools to become future professional cartoon artists,” Nasr explained. It is regarded as the first school specialised in teaching the art of caricature in Egypt, and it works together with the Egypt Cartoon Group.
The art of caricature in Egypt has a popular base; it is the art of criticism that conveys its message in simple and hilarious drawings, and Doum hopes to push the art forward.
Nasr explained that the foundation is divided into a foundation and cultural centre, the centre is where different cultural activities take place. “We have two performances every week; on Saturday we have the Saturday of Arts, in which we have theatrical performances and dance, and a discussion of a book,” Nasr said.
Every Wednesday Doum presents Assir Doum, Doum Juice, a performance based on research of dance, music, writing that shows the different angles of one specific topic. “Assir Doum doesn’t seek the answers, but aims to arouse question marks,” Nasr said, adding that the event includes music, acting and a lecture. “It is important for the mind to think and wonder and our role is supporting the critical mind.”
The Doum Foundation will organise their activities around various governorates, “we will have an event in Qena soon,” Nasr said.