23 November 2022
Sultan Hussein Kamel Palace: from Hidden Gem to Innovation Hub

Egypt brims with iconic artifacts and landmarks, testaments to its fascinating history and noble civilization. Creating a blend of such unique history and modernity, a key element of which is ICT, can help the country reach new levels of development and progress.

Within that framework, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) has taken the initiative to polish historic gems using new technologies. It transformed Sultan Hussein Kamel Palace to a state-of-the-art Creativa Innovation Hub, helping create an environment conducive to promoting innovation and generating groundbreaking ideas.

In the two-year restoration process, MCIT used high-tech tools and advanced techniques, preserving every single valuable item that exhibits the country’s rich cultural heritage.

After a years-long closure following its transformation into a school, Sultan Hussein Kamel Palace has been revamped and reopened. This imposing building witnessed the transition of Egypt from a khedivate to a sultanate to a kingdom, and finally to a republic.

Designed by French architect Alexandre Marcel in 1908, the Palace is among the first buildings in the district of Heliopolis, and it is seen as a model of reviving Islamic art. In the design, Marcel mixed elements from both the Islamic and European styles. The great hall follows Islamic architecture, while the interior of the palace, rooms and halls, features the European character, as shown in the wall frescoes, ceilings, and doors and windows lintels.

The Palace consists of a basement and two floors and is surrounded by a wrought iron fence. The basement has the kitchen and pantries. The first floor comprises a number of receptions, while the second includes several bedrooms and living rooms.

In the 1950s, the Palace became a state property. It was registered as an antiquity following a decree issued, in 2000, by the Council of Ministers.

Just like Abdeen Palace, the Citadel, and Muhammad Ali's Palace, Sultan Hussein Kamel Palace is a precious asset of great historical significance. The renovation involved technical, technological, and construction steps, with the Palace’s historic character remaining intact.

The Palace has been equipped with leading-edge technologies and sophisticated tools as part of its transformation into a Creativa Innovation Hub. It now serves as a home for young techies and attracts exceptional talents and innovative entrepreneurs.

The Hub boasts a start-up incubator, a business accelerator, a technical training center, advanced tech labs, meeting rooms, and co-working spaces. It offers a wide variety of services, including workshops in emerging technologies, support services for innovators and entrepreneurs, and training activities in freelancing. The Hub, in addition, hosts events that bring entrepreneurs together with industry partners, local and international companies, and academia.

Moreover, the Hub provides capacity-building programs and training courses, helping young people acquire in-demand skills in different fields such as business administration, technology, and project management.

MCIT, through the Hub, has set an annual target to incubate 40 start-ups, provide 150 job opportunities, attract investments worth $7 million, and train 1,000 people. The Ministry also works to attract world-leading companies to run the Hubs, all in an effort to further boost the entrepreneurship scene.

For this, the Ministry has teamed up with Plug and Play Tech Center—a global innovation platform that brings nascent entrepreneurs and early-stage startups with investors and major companies—in running Creativa Innovation Hub at Sultan Hussein Kamel Palace.

The Hub is one in a series of innovation hubs deployed on a broad scale nationwide, as part of the Ministry’s efforts to promote entrepreneurship and foster technological innovation. MCIT targets establishing a Creativa Innovation Hub in each governorate, bringing the total number of Hubs to 30.

So far, eight Hubs have been established in Cairo, Aswan, Qena, Sohag, Minya, Menoufia, Ismailia, and Dakahlia. MCIT is also in the process of building 19 new Hubs and renovating and transforming a Cairo University-owned facility in Bein El Sarayat district to a Creativa Innovation Hub.

The Hubs act as a beacon of technological sciences, trailblazing ideas, creative solutions, and digital transformation applications. In their huge potential and exceptional capabilities, Creativa Innovation Hubs are well-equipped to nurture young entrepreneurs and students and help start-ups and small projects through their journey to success.

Building the Creativa Innovation Hub at Sultan Hussein Kamel Palace is a concrete step that culminates the country’s tireless efforts in keeping up with technological advancements and spurring innovation. It is an evidence of Egypt’s strong commitment to honor its history while embracing modernity, blending the two together, and preserving its heritage capitalizing on modern technologies. The project also reveals MCIT role in breathing life back into historic buildings and availing society of them.

Human development has been one of the top priorities in MCIT strategy, objectives of which include sparking innovation and stimulating entrepreneurship. Such objectives are realized by creating a favorable environment and providing the necessary services and technological infrastructure. This is achieved through hubs that combine elements from both the past and the future, inspiring young Egyptian to develop innovative solutions that help attain economic and social development.
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