23 January 2024
Ministers of ICT, Social Solidarity Discuss Collaboration for 'Egyptian Geographical Society' Digitization


The Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat and the Minister of Nivine El-Kabbag have visited the headquarters of the Egyptian Geographical Society, the oldest geographical society outside Europe and the Americas. They were received by the Chairperson of the Society Mohammed Al-Sudimi and its members, in the presence of the Advisor to the ICT Minister for Technological Talents Hoda Baraka.
 
The ICT and Social Solidarity Ministers discussed mechanisms for supporting the Egyptian Geographical Society, cooperating in digitizing its collections, and preparing for the International Geographical Union (IGU) event to be held in 2025.
 
The Egyptian Geographical Society is one of the most prominent and significant geographical scientific institutes worldwide, not just in the Arab world or regionally. It has made remarkable scientific contributions and immense intellectual outputs, enhancing geoscientific life in the past. The Society can enrich the development of the geographic information system (GIS) that Egypt is currently leading by automating and developing the state’s capabilities on information mapping, given its geopolitical, practical, and heritage significance.
 
During the visit, the two ministers explored the mechanisms for restoring the Society’s key historical and informational role in geopolitical information, as part of renovating and revamping the building, upskilling youth in developing and modernizing the Society, and finding ways to mobilize financial resources. This is in addition to attaining digital transformation and promoting the IT required by society to document and safeguard its long-term scientific and geographical treasures.
 
Talaat and El-Kabbag reviewed ways to support the Society in light of Egypt’s hosting of the IGU Thematic International Geographical Conference to be held in 2025, in cooperation with the Egyptian Geographical Society, following the approval of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi for Egypt to host the Conference. The Conference marks the centenary of the IGU 12th International Geographical Congress, held in Cairo in 1925, as the first of its kind to be organized outside Europe.
 
The ICT Minister pointed out that the Society has very rare and original collections and possessions that have been preserved over a long history, which requires preserving them from damage or loss using digitization, thus making them available to the greatest number of beneficiaries and interested persons. He highlighted that a thorough inventory of the Egyptian Geographical Society’s collections, including books and maps, will be carried out to study and determine the best way to digitize them. They will then be made promptly available on Egypt’s digital heritage platform for Internet users to sustain Egypt’s cultural leadership, preserve its legacy, and promote the rich Egyptian culture worldwide.
 
For her part, El-Kabbag emphasized that the Ministry of Social Solidarity is responsible for supporting scientific, artistic, and heritage societies. This plays a pivotal role in preserving Egypt’s soft power that promotes Egypt’s culture and history.
 
El-Kabbag underscored that the Egyptian Geographical Society is the country’s leading scientific and cultural institution. It has a wealth of extremely valuable historical collections as well as numerous research, studies, and data, she added. In light of Egypt’s hosting of this significant Conference, El-Kabbag also welcomed cooperation.
 
The two ministers also inspected the society’s archaeological building, which comprises four main sections, including the four-hall Ethnographic Museum. These halls contain significant historical collections, a library with rare books in Arabic and other languages, and encyclopedias like the “Wasf Masr” (Description of Egypt) Encyclopedia. In addition, the library includes a section dedicated to scientific periodicals and research theses and another section for maps and atlases containing over 12,500 maps, around 600 atlases, and rare maps, such as the French campaign atlas, the 1928 National Atlas of Egypt, and other rare maps that were obtained through priceless gifts and donations from Egyptian rulers, princes, and national figures.
 
It is noteworthy that Khedive Ismail, the ruler of Egypt, founded the Egyptian Geographical Society in 1875, spanning over 150 years. He generously donated endowments, presents, books, furniture, equipment, and other items to the Society as well as any tangible and intangible assets he could at that time. He also chaired the Society for its scientific importance at that time.
 
The Egyptian Society is the ninth geographical society in the world and the first founded outside Europe and the Americas.
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