You may know that President Obama spoke in Cairo in June of 2009. The speech was at Cairo University and was co-hosted by Al Azhar.
Al Azhar University in Egypt, founded in 970-972, is the chief center of Arabic literature and Sunni Islamic learning in the world and the world's second oldest surviving degree granting university. It is associated with Al-Azhar Mosque in Islamic Cairo. The university's mission includes the study of Islamic religion and culture. To this end, its Islamic Scholars (ulemas) render edicts (fatwas) on disputes submitted to them from all over the Sunni Islamic world regarding proper conduct for Muslim individuals or societies. Al Azhar also trains Egyptian government appointed preachers, called imams.
Its library is considered second in importance in Egypt only to the Egyptian National Library and Archives. Al Azhar University concerns itself with the religious syllabus, which pays special attention to the Quranic sciences and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad, on the one hand, while on the other hand the university teaches all the modern fields of science. The university was founded by the Fatimid dynasty of Egypt, descended from Fatimah, daughter of the Prophet Muhammad. Fatimah was called Az-Zahra (the brilliant), and the university was named in her honor.
Al Azhar has a student population of 420,000, of whom 76,000 are women, and 16,000 international. According to its president, Al Azhar today stands for, and actively promotes, moderate Islam. In a recent conversation with U.S. Embassy representatives, he described the university as a defensive wall against extremism in the world, and noted proudly that Al-Azhar has no terrorists among its thousands of alumni. The President admits, however, that faculty and students lack foreign language skills that he believes are essential to broadening their understanding of other religions and cultures and to countering the belief that the West is hostile to Islam and Muslims. The President and other senior Al Azhar leadership have put the development of English language skills, among faculty and students, at the top of the university's agenda, and regard it as vital to the pursuit of their mission.
The University is making a concerted effort to improve the English levels of students and faculty. Major partners in this effort are two collaborative programs with Al Azhar: the US Embassy's English Language Resource Center (ELRC), which focuses on junior faculty, and the British Council's Al Azhar English Training Center (AAETC), which trains male undergraduates.
If you still want to learn more: 1. Al Azhar or 2. Basic Facts about Egypt or 3. Egypt Wikipedia or to learn about the 4. English Language Fellow Program that created our Language Center at Al Azhar read here.
Here is a pic of a Cairo, the largest metropolitan area in Africa and the 11th largest urban area in the world.