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A few remarks on the latest developments at NVIC from director Dr Rudolf de Jong

Dear friends of the NVIC,

Our academic year 2016-17 has been a busy one. Our new (from 1 October 2016) Assistant Director for Arabic and Islamic Studies, dr Ifdal Elsaket, traveled to the Netherlands and Flanders to present our activities to our 8 universities (6 in the Netherlands, 2 in Flanders). Ifdal’s position at our institute is made possible by the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO, see http://www.fwo.be/en/ ). 18 students came to our institute in our MA autumn semester Arabic and Islam (see http://institutes.leiden.edu/nvic/education/arabic/arab-ma-fall.html ). 

In January this year, our Assistant Director for Egyptology and Archaeology, dr Marleen De Meyer, taught her half semester for another group of 17 students from KU Leuven, Leiden University, and this year also 2 students from Harvard University (see http://institutes.leiden.edu/nvic/education/egyptian/ ) 

Also in January, we started our new Middle East Studies pilot BA programme for students of our universities, who are in M.E. studies, area studies, liberal arts, and the like. Parallel to this programme, we also taught our ‘usual’ BA semester for students of Arabic and Islam. We had 33 students enrolled in the latter two programmes of this spring semester. We hope to continue both programmes  on a regular basis and aim to let the M.E. Studies semester take place twice a year (in spring and autumn) (see http://institutes.leiden.edu/nvic/education/middle-east-studies/ba-semester.html and http://institutes.leiden.edu/nvic/education/arabic/ ). This latter semester will also be open for MA students, but naturally assessment criteria for MA students will be higher than for their BA colleagues. 
Evaluations so far show that students are very positive about their experiences in Egypt/Cairo and also about the courses taught at our institute. 

Apart from teaching these courses to students from our own universities, we also taught a number of courses on specific topics, which are aimed at ‘outsiders’ as well, such as a beginner’s course in Egyptology, and a course in ‘Survival Arabic’ (see previous link). 

Like in previous years, we organised our weekly Thursday lectures (start at 6.00 p.m.) and Sunday film screenings (start at 7.30 p.m.). We are pleased to conclude that we attract an average of 50 visitors at each of these events, and often we have a full house. 

In September 2016 we had the honour to receive professor Carel Stolker, who is rector magnificus of Leiden University and who was accompanied by John Kroes (our lead manager in Leiden), for a two-day visit to see our activities. Professor Stolker showed himself impressed and pleased with our activities. 

For our Cleveringa event on the 27th of November we were very pleased to have professor Petra Sijpesteijn of Leiden University read the lecture in the evening (see text of the lecture). During the same day, professor Sijpesteijn and our institute co-organised a seminar on “informal requests for help and mediation” and how these must have contributed to the shaping of the early muslim society in Egypt. We are grateful to the Netherlands Embassy in Cairo, who, like every year, graciously supported our Cleveringa events (see http://www.institutes.leiden.edu/nvic/news/cleveringa-lecture.html ). 

Together with the Faculty of Languages and Translations of the Azhar University, our institute co-organised with dr Amr Ryad of Utrecht University and in cooperation with the Netherlands Embassy in Cairo a six-day seminar on “Islamic studies in the west, an interdisciplinary perspective”. The purpose of these meetings was to give students of al-Azhar the opportunity to meet and discuss with academics from the Netherlands various topics in Islam studies. We were pleased to welcome professor Fred Leemhuis, professor Ruud Peters, professor Christian Lange and dr Amr Ryad at our institute to meet with these Azhari’s. We hope to be able to send two PhD students to the Netherlands to complete their theses at universities (participating in our institute) there (see http://www.institutes.leiden.edu/nvic/news/elazhar-workshop.html ). We are grateful to the Netherlands Embassy in Cairo, who have made this workshop and the scholarships possible through their generous support. 

In January, the Minister of Antiquities H.E. dr Khaled El-Anany did our institute the honour of opening two of the projects in the Dakhla oasis, which were facilitated by our institute. He was accompanied by the Dutch Ambassador H.E. Laurens Westhoff. Also present were professor (em.) Fred Leemhuis, who led the project of restoring mud brick houses in the town of Qasr, and dr Nicholas Warner, who was the architect for the reconstruction of the Villa of Serenus (a project led by professor Roger Bagnall of Columbia University, New York), which was later, and in a project facilitated by our institute, splendidly decorated by Dorothea Schulz, who could unfortunately not attend herself (see http://egitalloyd.blogspot.com.eg/2017_02_01_archive.html ). Much of the funds needed for these projects came from the Netherlands Embassy in Cairo, to whom we are grateful.  

Unfortunately, a number of the archaeological expeditions which we help facilitate every year had to be canceled in 2016. Such cancelations are sometimes due to a last minute refusal of one of the security organisations involved, while at other times the organising institutions in our home countries do not allow their personnel to travel. Fortunately, however, 2017 got off to a more positive start and the archaeological expedition to Dayr al-Barsha led by professor Harco Willems and our Assistant Director dr Marleen De Meyer, both of KU Leuven, could again take place (see www.dayralbarsha.com). 

Please subscribe to our newsletter if you would like to be kept abreast of our activities (send us an email at info@nvic.leidenuniv.nl), and keep your eyes on announcements on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NVICairo/

Finally, I should like to wish all who observe the fast Ramadan kareem, and a beautiful summer ahead for all! 

Best regards, 

Dr Rudolf de Jong 

Director of the NVIC

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