10 - 16 February 2000
Issue No. 468
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
Pack of CardsBy Madame Sosostris
* The American University in Cairo held its midyear commencement for bachelor's degree candidates last Thursday. The guest speaker was Her Excellency Mrs Suzanne Mubarak, who was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters.
Mrs Mubarak then gave out the President's Cup and the Parent's Association Cup as well as the Ahmed El-Mehallawi Family Award, presented for the first time at the commencement ceremony. Set up by my dear friend, the late head of Al-Ahram Centre for Translation and Publishing and AUC alumna Nawal Mehallawi, this award is presented to a graduating senior who has demonstrated strong academic achievement and contribution to extra-curricular activities, including community service. This year's recipient, Dina Mekkawi, managed to strike that difficult balance. Graduating with high honours from the Department of Business Administration, Dina was extremely active with the AUC Anti-Cancer Team, which organised parties and outings for the children of the National Cancer Institute. The team also arranged fundraising events, which allowed the purchase of desperately needed medical equipment for the NCI. In addition, she was involved with the Volunteers in Action club, who help orphans.
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* Among the new AUC graduates, I also had the great pleasure of spying our dear new colleague Amina Elbendary, who was receiving her master's degree in Arabic Studies with a specialisation in Middle East History. Dear Amina is now part of our staff and she will be writing some very knowledgeable articles, which aim to inform and entertain at the same time. It is for such articles as these that Al-Ahram Weekly has become famous, even if I say so myself.
* Last Sunday I took myself to one of my favourite places in Cairo, the marvellous Mubarak Library in Giza, where a most exciting event, the inauguration of the Fifth Aswan International Sculpture Symposium, was taking place. Adam Henein, head of the symposium, and Salah Shuqueir, manager of the Cultural Development Fund, were there to welcome the participating sculptors, Egyptian artists and members of the press. The event started with a photo exhibition by Al-Ahram photographer Moussa Mahmoud followed by an exciting documentary film by Salah Mar'i. This year's symposium will be so exciting, I cannot wait to mingle with the 12 sculptors: three from Egypt, two from Germany, and one each from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Japan, Switzerland, Romania, and France -- even though I have been told in no uncertain terms that I cannot show my Play-Doh creations. I wonder why? Anyway, Al-Ahram Weekly will still have reason to be proud, as the Cultural Development Fund comissioned our very own photographer, Randa Shaath, to exhibit a body of work on Nubian villages, which will be on show at the end of the symposium in April.
* I do hope that you took the time to check out last week's Al-Ahram Eighth Computer and Information Expo (ACITEX), which was held at the Cairo International Conference Centre. I must tell you, I had a most impressive tour in cyberspace. Minister of Telecommunication and Information Ahmed Nazif opened the exhibition, which was also attended by Ali Ghoneim, deputy chairman and general manager of Al-Ahram Organisation, Hassan Hamdi, general manager for advertising, Mohamed Youssef Habib, general director for classified ads, who was also supervising the exhibition, and Medhat Mansour, general manager of Pyramid Advertising Agency. More than 100 Egyptian companies participated and for the first time the exhibition hosted an Italian pavilion displaying products of the top 14 Italian computer companies.
* Darlings, I really missed you while I was in Amman and wished you could all have been with me, although I cannot say I was particularly thrilled by the weather. It was so cold, my nose almost froze. What was I doing there, then, you may well ask. The truth is that I could not resist the invitation of my lovely friend Doreyya El-Bashari, who was heading a delegation representing the Inner Wheel Clubs of Egypt. They headed off to Jordan from 28 January to 3 February to attend the annual District meeting. You know, of course, that Doreyya is chairman of District 95, which comprises Egypt and Jordan, and that my other good friend Maggi Shannon is the organiser of its international relations. Our delegation comprised 16 members, who were warmly welcomed by Jaqueline Bakhoury, member of the International Board of Inner Wheel clubs. Touring different social work organisations in Amman, we visited the Al- Hussein Habilitation and Rehabilitation Centre for Disabled Children, which is active across the country with its mobile clinics. There we met Princess Basma Al-Hussein, sister of the late King Hussein and chairman of the Amman Inner Wheel Club. We also met Princess Magda Raad, King Hussein's sister-in-law and honorary chairman of Jordan's Philadelphia Inner Wheel Club.
We were absolutely overwhelmed by the hospitality of our Jordanian hosts, who took us to visit the Dead Sea, where I must say we did enjoy the superb view, despite the icy cold weather. Needless to say, we all insisted on visiting the spa and you would not believe what I came out with. In no time I am sure to look at least 10 years younger (not that I don't look quite young already, but the younger the better, as my grandpapa used to say). I stocked up on facial masks, pure mud, medicinal soaps, and strange looking lotions and potions that I happily apply every evening before retiring. It is quite a pity that I have not been allowed to include a little photograph of yours truly with her mud mask on. Apparently I look rather frightening and it would be bad advertising for the wonderful products, but give me another week and we shall see what they have to say then.
* A ceremony commemorating the first anniversary of the death of the brilliant Egyptian intellectual and writer, the late Lutfi El-Kholi, will be hosted by Chairman of the Board of Al-Ahram Organisation and Editor-in-Chief of Al-Ahram Ibrahim Nafie, and will take place at Al-Ahram main building on 23 February. The keynote speaker, Faysal Al-Husseini, PNA minister on Jerusalem, will address the topic "Opportunities for Final Status Negotiations and the Question of Jerusalem".
* This week, Al-Ahram Weekly's staff sadly commemorates the anniversary of the death of their colleague Hamdi Saadeddin, who passed away on 8 February 1999. To his parents, our dear Mursi and Enayat Saadeddin, and his daughter Menna we extend our deepest sympathy.
* Of a less high-tech nature are the paintings Ihab Shaker will be exhibiting at Khan Al-Maghrabi starting 22 February. Darlings, you must go and have a look. I had barely a glimpse of the women he paints -- such athletic creatures, and not quite my aesthetic cup of tea, let me tell you. I am sure none of them has dieted a single day in their lives. Yes, dears, I am not afraid to say it: although Ihab's models are rather on the round side, they are no less supple for that.