Wednesday,20 March, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1121, 8-14 November
Wednesday,20 March, 2019
Issue 1121, 8-14 November

Ahram Weekly

Berlin comes to El-Gouna

An Egyptian branch of the Technical University of Berlin has opened in El-Gouna near Hurghada, writes Nader Habib

Al-Ahram Weekly

The Technical University of Berlin (TUB) has opened a new Egyptian branch in El-Gouna north of Hurghada, offering Masters degrees in energy engineering, water engineering and urban development. The specialisations have been designed to qualify students in areas of vital importance for the development of Egypt. Thirty students have already enrolled at the new University, and graduates will receive Masters of Science degree awarded by TUB.
The TUB El-Gouna campus, extending over 10,000 square metres, offers students modern buildings and excellent facilities. Teaching will be provided by German or German-educated academic staff, and the administration will be subject to German state-controlled regulations.
During the inauguration ceremony of the new university, held at the TUB El-Gouna campus on 28 October, Samih Sawiris, chair of the board of trustees of the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development, said that TUB El-Gouna graduates would reinforce Egypt’s reputation as a venue for research and technology.
The Sawiris Foundation donated LE200 million to the project, preparations for which began six years ago when TUB President Kurt Kutzler decided to open the university’s first branch abroad.
“Various administrative obstacles had to be ironed out, since German law prohibits the establishment of for-profit educational institutions. There was also the question of how to persuade German academic staff to work in Egypt under the current conditions,” Sawiris said.
In an interview with Al-Ahram Weekly, Sawiris said that El-Gouna was also well qualified as a city able to host such international projects. “I want to deliver the message that the excessive centralism in Egypt that has pushed Cairo to the limits of endurance has to end,” he added.
German Ambassador to Egypt Michael Bock said that the launch of an academic programme in El-Gouna was another landmark in a long history of bilateral cooperation in science and education between Germany and Egypt. “The graduates of this university will be able to address the future challenges facing both our countries,” he said.
In her speech at the inauguration ceremony, Nadia Zakhari, minister of state for scientific research, said that the German government had a long history of cooperating with Egypt in education. Germany had created four schools in Egypt since 1873, in addition to the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo and the Goethe Cultural Centre, she said. The German government was also providing $500 million a year to Egypt to fund fellowships for exchange students.
Speaking to the Weekly, Zakhari said that despite the country’s current difficulties, the government had increased the budget of the Ministry of State for Scientific Research from LE0.5 billion to LE1.3 billion. The aim of the ministry was to steer scientific research towards the needs of the economy, she said.
“We need to have businessmen who believe in the importance of scientific research. A lot of businessmen are reluctant to bear the risks of scientific research at the moment, since its fruits may take years before they can be reaped,” she said.
Businessman Mahmoud Shalabi, who runs an elevator company, said that graduates with a solid education were needed in the Egyptian labour market.
“It has become difficult to find people who are technically competent to work with cutting-edge technology. We need another project like the Mubarak-Kohl Initiative to upgrade our labour skills. We also need to boost the level of Egyptian universities, so that graduates can compete internationally,” Shalabi said.
The inauguration ceremony of the new university, which featured a performance by opera singer Ohoud Khedr, was attended by senior officials including Arab League chief Nabil Al-Arabi, Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr Kamel, Red Sea Governor Mohamed Kamel, Samir Shehata from the Ministry of Education, and Ahmed Al-Khadem from the Ministry of Tourism.
Also present were Nicolas Zimmer, German minister of state for the economy and science, Michael Bock, the German ambassador in Cairo, President of TUB Gouna Jorg Steinbach, and Anja Schillhaneck, deputy chair of the TUB board of trustees.

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