Egypt/ 3. Competence, decision-making and administration  

3.1 Organisational structure (organigram)


The Ministry of Culture (MOC) is the main institution in charge of elaborating and implementing the country's cultural policies and all culture-related activities.

At the beginning, most apparatuses of this ministry were divided between various ministries, most notably the Ministry of Public Education. The structure of the ministry (still without a name) began gradually to take shape until the creation of the Ministry of National Guidance after the advent to power of July Revolution in 1952

The name of the ministry was synonymous with "national guidance" in 1958 until it became a fully independent institution in 1965.

The MOC was first mentioned in the second union government when Dr. Sarwat Okacha was appointed the first Minister of Culture and National Guidance in 1961. By 1965 Egypt has a ministry for culture, a ministry for tourism and antiquities and a ministry for national guidance and each has a separate minister (this was a rare occasion when this sector has three ministers).

In 1978 the MOC was affiliated to the Ministry of Education and Scientific Research and the three ministers were held by Dr. Hasan Ismael.

In June 1979, Minister of the Republic's Presidency Mansour Hassan was assigned to supervise the MOC and the Ministry of Information, and in May 1980 he was appointed State Minister of Culture and Information and in January 1981 Minister of Presidency, Culture and Information. In September 1981 the MOC alone was assigned to Mohammed Abdel Hamid Radwan, who stayed in office until September 1985.

Since 1985 and till this day, the Ministry has been fully independent and is held by a minister not charged with any other ministry. In October 1987 Farouk Hosni became Minister of Culture and he is the longest serving minister till 2011.[1]

Since the January revolution in 2011, there has been six different ministers interchanged the same position at the Ministry of Culture, Jaber Asfour, Muhammad Aldawi, Imad Aboughazi, Shaker Abdulhamid, Saber Arab who accepted the position twice after resigning the first time, followed by Alaa Abdulaziz, Saber Arab for the third time, and Jaber Asfour as of July 2014 up until today.

As a result to the successive changes to the minister position, there have been a significant number of changes to the top and middle management, but there has been no change to the number of employees or to their development training.

There hasn’t been clear evolution to the ministry’s strategies and code of conduct, but according to the Ministry’s website on May 4th 2013, few exceptions were noticed in the Ministry’s position to support independent initiatives.

Table 1: Ministry of Culture (MOC) sectors, syndicates and non-governmental unions



1. The Minister's Office and MOC General Registry

2. Egyptian Academy in Rome

Created in 1929 as an affiliate to the Ministry of Education, the idea behind the establishment of this Academy came from artist Ragheb Ayyad. This Academy is specialized in studying various arts, mixing Egyptian and Italian creativity and promoting the Egyptian culture.

3. Supreme Council for Culture

Article 2 of Chapter 1 of Presidential Decision No. 150 of 1980 specified the SCC objectives as being: to facilitate means of culture to the people and associate these means with spiritual values by deepening the democracy of culture and bring it closer to the broadest section of the people; develop talents in all fields of culture, art and literature; revive the traditional heritage and introduce the fruits of human knowledge to the people; stress religious, spiritual and moral values of society.

To realize these objectives, the SCC handles the following tasks:

  • Develop the general strategy for the Egyptian culture in line with the government policy and coordinate the activities of different cultural bodies.
  • Develop a code of ethics for different cultural activities and follow up its implementation and enforcement.
  • Support the intellectual and artistic creativity, protect intellectual rights and insure those working in the areas of culture, arts and literature.
  • Sponsor scientific and cultural associations and entities and ensure conductive environment to realize their objectives.
  • Issues relevant directives and instructions to cultural related civil organizations in line with the official policy in this regard.
  • Promote artistic masterpieces and support the technical services provided to student and worker associations and farmers’ sector; and contribute to the efforts of introducing culture to the public at large.
  • Focus on child culture through promoting children’s talents and capacities to build a strong generation of patriotic youth.
  • Present the quality production of theatre, music and popular arts through establishing specialized houses and coordinate their activities.
  • Propose recommendations to improve the education curricula and the methods of introducing cultural awareness and artistic taste to different education stages.
  • Set quality standards for different intellectual and cultural production areas, and develop standardized criteria for different contests, subsidies and promotional prizes; offer such prizes and subsidies and provide opinion to the relevant institutions.
  • Propose development steps in the Radio and TV programs, and recommend (to the Radio & TV Union) the cultural and artistic mainstreaming in those programs.
  • Recommend the representation of Egypt in different regional and international cultural and artistic festivals.

The SCC has 61 members, in addition to 32 members (writers, artists and researchers) appointed by virtue of a decision issued by the Prime Minister every two years. The HCC meets four times a year under the chairmanship of the Minister of Culture. All sections meet twice a month and they have a Chairman or a rapporteur, 22 members and 4 ex officio members. In January 2011 the SCC members count became 62 members. A project to restructure the SCC is still being studied and is in the preparations phase; it is to be proposed to the coming parliament.

But, the year 2012 brought the SCC decision to reintroduce the 26 Standing Committees till the end of 2013 session, the standing committees are in regards to the following subjects: archeology, economics, history, education , translation, scientific education , geography , social studies , Literature & linguistics , Cinema , Poetry, political science , architecture , philosophy , fine arts , folk arts and cultural heritage , law , short story , writing and publishing , theater , civic and human rights , music, opera &ballet , the environment , children's culture , psychology & Management. The ministry has included the membership of these committees a large number of independent intellectuals is relatively young, but the criteria for the selection of new members and the selection mechanism were not declared or known.

The Ministry included a lot of new rising talents but there weren’t any announced job descriptions or clear recruiting process.

In June 2014 Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab made the decision to reform the SCC by appointing Dr. Awatef Abdel Karim, Counselor Tahani Al Gebali, Dawood Abdel Sayyed, and Sayyed Hegab to the SCC membership for two years as of 16 June 2014.

The decision also included the renewal of membership for:

  • plastic artist Adam Hannen Henry
  • poet and critic Ahmed Abdel Muti Hijazi
  • former president of Al Azhar University Ahmed Omar Hashem
  • novelist Edward Al Kharrat
  • scholar and writer al-Sayyid Yaseen Sayyid
  • current Minister of Culture Gaber Asfour, and
  • novelist Gamal El Ghitani
  • writer Mouhammed Bahaa Taher
  • critic Dr. Mohammed Salah al-Din Fadel
  • Dr. Mohamed Taha Hussein
  • Dr. Mohamed Nour Farhat
  • Mahmoud Sabri El Shabrawi
  • Mourad Wahba Gibran
  • Mustafa Ismail Soueif
  • Mustafa Mohammed al Faqi
  • former chairman of the syndicate of journalists Makram Mohammed Ahmad
  • Ahmad Morsi
  • Sayyid al-Touna
  • poet Farouq Guwaida and
  • poet Farouk Shousha.

In addition to vice president of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs ambassador Abdel Raouf al-Ridi, journalist and writer Salah Issa, professor of political science at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University Dr. Ali El Din Helal Dessouki, Ali Mahmoud Moussa Radwan, Dr. Fawzi Fahmi Ahmad, Laila Takla, and Mouhammed Ismaeel Siraj al-Din.

The reform faced widespread criticism from intellectuals due to the continued lack of criteria for procedure that the SCC’s choices would be based on, in addition to the fact that some members belonged to the Mubarak regime, and the reformation generally lacked a youthful spirit.   

4. Supreme Council for Antiquities

The Antiquities Service was established in 1858, changed its name to the Egyptian Antiquities Authority in 1971 and became the Supreme Council for Antiquities by virtue of Presidential Decision 82 of 1994 and this was resulted in changing the administrative bylaw[2].

The Minister of Culture is the Chairman of the Supreme Council for Antiquities and Mr. Zahi Hawwas is the General Secretary (has been in office for more than ten years).

The Supreme Council for Antiquities alone receives more than half of all funds allocated to the cultural machinery, whether in the form of wages and salaries for workers, current expenditure or investment utilizations (building museums, maintenance, restoration, etc.).

The Supreme Council for Antiquities consists of:

  • General Secretariat: This General Secretariat is chaired by the General Secretary and is the administrative apparatus in charge of implementing the recommendations and decisions of the Management Board and is also in charge of submitting regular reports to the Council.
  • Egyptian Antiquities Sector: This Sector is in charge of the restoration and maintenance of Egyptian and Pharaonic antiquities, archeological sites and archeological discoveries in all Egyptian governorates.
  • Islamic and Coptic Antiquities Sector
  • Museums Sector
  • The Antiquities and Museum Financial Support Fund Sector: This Fund was established by virtue of Presidential Decision 95 of 1978 and is in charge of providing the necessary financial allocations to finance wages and current expenditure, cover costs of archeological, maintenance, restoration and excavation projects, develop museums and pay expropriation compensations.
  • Projects Sector: This Sector is in charge of implementing restoration and maintenance projects for Egyptian, Islamic and Coptic antiquities and building and developing museums[3].

In 2012, there was the creation of a self-standing Ministry of Antiquities, which caused a deficit to in the budget of Ministry of Culture, which was dependable on the monuments income to finance the cultural development project, which was consecutively financing non governmental cultural events.

Due to this whole in the budget, the Minister of Culture, had to stop financing non-governmental cultural activities

It is worth noting that the budget allocated to the Ministry of Culture is less than 5% of the government’s budget, 75% of which goes to employee salaries and wages. By law the Ministry of Culture also receives 10% of the revenues of the Ministry of Tourism. In this context, the Ministry of Culture introduced a fourth axis of strategy in order to address the funding crisis as follows:

The fourth axis: the economics of culture:

(1 ) Recover the assets of Egyptian cinema owned by the SCC from the following 2 companies: " Egypt 's studios & film production " and " Egypt for distribution & cinemas". These assets showed profit hikes under the Ministry’s management, which had a direct impact production process; the Ministry was able to finance more production with better technical quality. This was all achieved when the Ministry took control over their assets and raised service cost, which enabled them to provide support of independent cinema for many generations to come.

(2) maximize the cultural industries in terms of their size and development, to be a phenomenon in sustaining these industries , especially after the trends of United Nations organizations to adopt the classification of cultural industries within 4 different creative categories under the Ministry of Culture’s production umbrella:

  • Cultural Heritage : such as Folk arts & crafts as well as cultural festivals and fairs.
  • Arts : such as visual arts (drawing - Sculpture - Photography) , and the performing arts ( music - theater - the circus - folk dance).
  • Media : like (cinema - Printing - Publishing – books and magazines) .
  • creativity : like (digital content - movies animation - graphics - cultural services).

Multiple boards of trustees were formed to service different museums and institutions in the same year of 2012, but the role and powers of these councils was not announced, nor did the selection process standards made any clear.

5. General Egyptian Book Organization

In 1971, Presidential Decision No. 2826 was issued stipulating the establishment of a public body named the General Egyptian Book Organization (GEBO) located in Cairo and affiliated to the Minister of Culture. The General Authority for Books and Documents House had been an EGAB affiliate until 1993 when they were separated by Presidential Decision No. 176 of 1993.

GEBO duties:

  • Provide all facilities to popularize Arab and international intellectual products.
  • Reprint as much heritage books as possible in order to be accessible by all people interested.
  • Write and translate cultural books on regional and international levels.
  • Print, publish and market Egyptian books on local Arab, and international levels by organizing book fairs, such as Cairo International Book Fair.

GEBO is also in charge of a number of important projects, such as Family Library, Egypt Modern Encyclopedia and Theatre Dictionary[4].


6. Culture Palaces Organization

The General Authority of Culture Palaces in Egypt, was established initially under the name of People's University in 1945, and its name changed in 1965 to mass culture, and based on that many palaces and houses of culture were created in all Egypt's governorates as the decentralized system in France. In 1989, the presidential decree no. 63 changed its name to the General Authority of Culture Palaces.

It aims to contribute in raising the cultural level and guide the national consciousness of the masses in the fields of film, theater, music and folklore, and arts and the child's activity and library services in the provinces. There are 293 cultural palaces and houses affiliated to the General Authority of Culture Palaces.


7. National Library & Archives

The National Library or Kutubkhana in Turkish was established by virtue of Sublime Order issued by Khedive Ismail Pasha in March 1870. Located inside Mustafa Fadel Pasha Palace (brother of Khedive Ismail Pasha), Zeyneb Quarter, Al-Salibiah St., this Library  was officially opened in 24 September same year and it allowed the public to read, examine, copy and borrow books. The Library collected the works scattered in mosques, schools and in the Khedivial Library.

The Library was then moved to Bab al-Khalq Building by the end of the 19th century and in 1911 its name was change to become the National Library & Archives  was affiliated to the Ministry of Education and the Boulaq Press was established as an affiliate to the National Library.

In 1993 Presidential Decision 167 was issued separating the National Library & Archives from the General Egyptian Book Organization in order to be in charge of preserving the heritage written in periodicals and scripts, in addition to its music library and researcher services.



 8. General Authority for National Cultural Center (Opera House)

The current Opera House was opened in October 1988 and it seeks to provide fine arts andvarious creative activities. The Alexandria Opera and Damanhour Opera are both affiliated to this Authority. The Opera House is a National Cultural Center which organizes a number of festivals, most notably the Arab Music Festival, and it dedicates special attention to plastic arts. It also contains a museum for modern arts and a music library.

The Cairo Opera House consists of:

  • Engineering house
  • National House for Music
  • General Secretariat

9. The National Organ for Civilization Coordination

Established by virtue of Presidential Decision 37 of 2001, this Organ seeks to improve the scenic value of the exteriors of buildings and architectural and archeological spaces, taking into consideration the principles of visual texture of cities, villages and all urban areas, including new urban agglomerations. 

10. Arts Academy

Established by virtue of Presidential Decision 78 of 1969, this Academy seeks to graduate artists and specialized technical cadres in all fields of art. It consists of the following high institutes:

  • High Institute for Theatrical Arts.
  • High Institute for Arabic Music.
  • High Institute for Artistic Criticism.
  • High Institute for Ballet.
  • High Institute for Folk Arts.
  • High Institute for Music (Conservatoire).
  • High Institute for Cinema. 

11. Cultural Development Fund

Established by virtue of Presidential Decision 430 of 1989, this fund seeks to raise the level of cultural service and take part in funding cultural activities. The main financial sources of this Fund come from the Supreme Council for Antiquities, in addition to revenues generated from selling books and films produced by the Supreme Council of Culture.

Fourteen creativity centers are affiliated to this Fund in Cairo and Alexandria governorates and are in charge of organizing a number of festivals such as the National Festival for Cinema, Child Cinema Festival, Cairo Festival for Experimental Theatre, National Theatre for Egyptian Theatre, in addition to Aswan Symposium for Sculpture and Luxor International Gathering.

12. Artists and Writers Fund

  • Law 146 of 1964 created the Artists and Writers Fund with the following tasks:
  • Provide health insurance to artists.
  • Insurance against unemployment.
  • Life insurance and insurance against partial and total disability.
  • Pension arrangements.

13. National Center for Translation

Established by virtue of Presidential Decision No. 381 of 2006 and is located in Cairo. The Center consists of a Board of Trustees with a chairperson and a number of members (no less than 15 and no more than 20) representing official Egyptian and non-Egyptian agencies interested in supporting the translation movement. The Board also represents a number of senior Egyptian and non-Egyptian cultural figures in addition to the Minister of Culture, Minister of International Coordination, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Information, Minister of Communications and IT, Minister of Higher Education. The remaining members are named for candidacy by the Minister of Culture.

The Board of Trustees is appointed by virtue of a presidential Decree for a term of two years (except the official members) with a third of the members appointed each year. The Board of Trustees develops the general policy and action plans for the Center and it may issue whatever necessary decisions to realize its objectives.

[2] The bylaw of the High Council for Antiquities is not available.

[3] The information is from the official MOC website and from an interview with Dr. Haggagui Ibrahim, member of the Coptic and Islamic Museum's Management Board

[4] From the EGAB website: www.egyptianbook.or.

Chapter published: 01-04-2016