The First Maker Faire in Cairo


Reposted from

On March 7, the first Cairo Mini Maker Faire was held at the Greek Campus in Cairo, just off busy Tahrir Square. This was the first Maker Faire in an Arabic-speaking country in the so-called MENA (the Middle East and Northern Africa) region.

For myself, as a first-time visitor to Egypt, there were two very different places that helped me understand the past and present that surrounded this Maker Faire. One was the Great Pyramid of Giza, the only remaining “Wonder” of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the oldest monumental building in the world, which dates back 4500 years. The second was the concrete hulk of an office building in downtown Cairo, now charred and gutted, once the home of the National Democratic Party of Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted from office four years ago in a revolution that is still deeply felt among Egyptians. Both the old and the new are compelling if not daunting.

Today’s Maker Faire in Cairo, Dina told me, “was four long years in the making.” To some people, it would have seemed impossible. The organizers were the founders of Fab Lab Egypt, located in Giza, just outside Cairo. Dina El-Zanfaly, an MIT PhD candidate in Design and Architecture, is one of the founders and an organizer of the event. Dina is a self-professed maker but she also has “how-to” knack for community building — she knows how to get things done, how to work with all kinds of people, how to lead and how to share leadership. Community building requires the combination of organizational skills and people skills elevated by a true sense of purpose.

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