28 Oct. - 3 Nov. 1999
Issue No. 453
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
Pack of CardsBy Madame Sosostris
* Yesterday, dears, I lived through one of those moments I like to store in my memory and savour from time to time. During a moving ceremony, hosted by French Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière and his charming wife at the French Embassy in Giza, the director of the Centre d'Etudes et de Documentation Economique et Juridique (CEDEJ), my very dear friend Ghislaine Alleaume received the Ordre National du Mérite, one of the most prestigious awards accorded by the French state. We were all terribly excited by the event, as over the years we have seen Ghilaine always hard at work and deeply involved in difficult and time-consuming studies on Egypt, never taking a moment to rest. Now, we thought, she will be entitled to rest on her laurels at last, but of course Ghislaine has no intention of doing any such thing.
* The French were kept busy handing decorations out to deserving Egyptians this week: On Monday, the French President Jacques Chirac awarded the head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Gaballah Ahmed Gaballah, the Légion d'Honneur. In the speech he delivered on the occasion, French Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière said Gaballah was one of the world's most important experts in the history and customs of Egyptian society during the second millennium BC.
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* Ghislaine's decoration was preceeded by a festive little soirée at the Greek Club, downtown, where we celebrated the success of another member of the CEDEJ -- our dear friend Iman Farag, who recently returned from Paris bearing in her suitcase a brand-new doctorate which earned her the very highest distinction. Right on the heels of this memorable evening, another event will put the distinguished centre in the limelight once again. The venue will be the tastefully renovated premises of the CEDEJ and the occasion will shed light on the outstanding scholarship of other members of this prestigious institution. On 30 October, a reception will mark the end of the symposium on "Political structures and logic of action in the light of economic liberalisation in the Arab countries of the Mediterranean basin", cosponsored by the CEDEJ and the Freie Universitat Berlin with the support of the Volkswagen Foundation. During the same event, researchers Eric Denis and Francois Moriconi will be awarded the bronze medal of the CNRS (France's National Centre for Scientific Research), for their brilliant work. I think congratulations are in order all around.
* Other people too are being honoured these days, my bright little ones. It must be something in the air -- or maybe it is not such a good idea to mention that particular medium at this point in time, in view of the thick and mysterious cloud of smoke which has descended on Cairo recently. Anyway, I was immensly pleased to hear that my dear friend, former MP Mona Makram Ebeid has received the Distinguished Alumni Award from her alma mater, the American University in Cairo, for her valuble services to national and international organisations, especially in the field of education. The award was presented by President of AUC John Gerhart, during the scintillating Cairo Alumni gala dinner, held at the Semiramis Intercontinental.
* And don't go believing that we at the Weekly don't have our own stars. Only last Monday, two prominent members of our esteemed staff, Sherif Sonbol and Tarek Atia, photographer and writer respectively, and the authors of a beautiful tome on Egypt's moulids, had a book-launching ceremony hosted by Mark Linz, director of the AUC Press, in the garden of the Rare Books Library. Many of Tarek's and Sherif's friends were there, to congratulate Sherif, his charming wife Samia and their daughter Hana in person and to talk to Tarek on the telephone since he, his wife Inas and their baby son Omar are away in Washington and could not attend. As we gathered to watch a performance of the twirling dervishes, who were contributing most ably to the desired moulid atmosphere, I noticed American Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer with his charming wife, as well as beautiful actress Raghda, political writer and art collector Tarek Heggi, Juliana Salama, wife of Al-Ahram's prominent columnist Salama Ahmed Salama, Taymour Abdel-Hassib, director-general of Al-Ahram's printing press, and a heavy contingent from the Weekly and the Al-Ahram family in general.
* Honeymooning in Sharm Al-Sheikh, our dear colleagues Adel El-Bindari, economic editor at Al-Ahram and May Atta, reporter at Al-Ahram Hebdo, were not one little bit concerned with the flurry of intellectual activity. In a practical move, which I approve wholeheartedly, the couple was engaged, wrote the marriage contract and celebrated their wedding in a single intimate event, attended only by close family members, whereupon they took off to spend a romantic time on a secluded beach.
* During the next few days, darlings, you will be treated to many visual experiences, but only if you heed my informed advice First of all, from 3 to 18 November, an exhibition by German artist Max Ernst will be held under the auspices of the Goethe Institute, in cooperation with the Mahmoud Khalil Museum. The exhibition will be inaugurated by Culture Minister Farouk Hosni, Bernd Pirrung, head of the Goethe Institute and Ahmed Nawwar, head of the National Centre for Plastic Arts and head of the Museums Sector at the Supreme Council for Antiquities. Take yourselves to the museum's Horizon One Gallery, where you will be able to admire 196 original graphic works and 26 books documenting dear Max's most productive periods.
* On an entirely different note, the Fulbright Programme in Egypt is also doing its bit in the art department, by organising an art exhibition at Al-Hanager Centre for Arts in honour of its Golden Jubilee, under the auspices of Daniel Kurtzer and Ambassador Salama Shaker, assistant minister of Foreign Affairs. The exhibition, entitled "Harmony" and featuring works by artists Farid Fadel and Sayed Saad El-Din, will open on 30 October and last for just 10 days.
* If your eyes can take no more stimulus, you can give your ears something to feast on instead when, on 31 October, a classical Italian concerto is performed in the Small Hall of the Opera House, sponsored by the Italian Cultural Centre. The concerto will feature the Italian trio Lambertini, Fornaciari and Colonna, who will revive the glory of Paganini, Vivaldi, Bottesini along with the 18th-century violinist Tartini.
* After that whirlwind of cultural activity, and if, like me, you don't think that intellectual pursuits and blatant consumerism are mutually exclusive, then I'll see all of you next Sunday at the Houssaper Armenian Club in Heliopolis for the Open Day Bazaar, presided over by Alice Mekhdikian. There, we will be able to eat, play and be entertained in the wonderfully warm Armenian tradition.
* On the other hand if you only want to relax and enjoy a day in the sun, then the Mohamed Ali Club is the place for you. This is where it is at, darlings, especially if you feel like taking a dip in the pool. My good friend Maged Farag will do his very best to make you feel at home.