20 - 26 July 2000
Issue No. 491
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
Pack of CardsBy Madame Sosostris
"Vive la France" was the message behind the reception celebrating French national day on the evening of 14 July hosted by Ambassador François Dopffer in the garden of his princely Giza residence. Having been a regular at such shindigs for longer than I want anyone to remember, yours truly, aka the beacon of Cairene society, was among the high-profile Francophile guests. Upon entry through the high-security gates, my companion and I walked past an accordionist playing Edith Piaf's "Milord," to stand at the end of the line waiting to greet Dopffer and his lovely wife while esteemed members of the press snapped shots of each and every handshake. This must have required an absurd amount of film, for descending the steps that led to the lavish garden, one beheld hundreds and hundreds of people. A snappily-dressed waiter offered us champagne rosé, or perhaps grapefruit juice. To our left, a camera crew was taping a journalist interviewing Youssef Wali, minister of agriculture. Never a moment free for Wali, and no such a thing as off hours.
We made our way through the throng and walked along the buffets that were set up with chefs serving broiled fish, skewers of beef and chicken kebab, cold cuts, sausages, foie gras, quiches, pâtés and samplings of fusilli and ziti pasta with pesto, arrabiata and Alfredo sauce that were prepared right before your very eyes. Did I make your mouth water? Those harbouring a sweet tooth were told, "Let them eat cake" at tables serving little gâteaux and crêpes with every possible filling and topping. For a nation impacted by the declining euro, this was one fancy feast! After dindin, it was time to schmooze. I bumped into Neil MacDonald, editor-in-chief of AmCham's Business Monthly, and his beautiful wife Yasmin Siddiqui, editor-in-chief of Medina magazine, who looked swank in a slinky black gown. Both are Canadians who have lived in Egypt for over two years now. I chatted briefly with Paul Schemm, deputy editor of Business Monthly, whose sharp eye for detail was able to distinguish the Windsor knot on my companion's tie. Hisham Qassem, publisher of the Cairo Times, was also there.
Some two hours later, after my stilettos had sufficiently punctured the ambassador's lawn, we decided to leave. On our way out, we met Ahmed Fadel, press attaché at the French Embassy. "One can always rely on the French to whip up a fine party," I whispered in his ear.
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And don't go thinking that I sat by my television set in order to recover, dears. An intensive application of a miraculous cucumber and strawberry eye pack that I recently exchanged for several gold ingots, and off I went to attend a sparkling soirée in celebration of Iraq's national day. Iraqi Ambassador to the Arab League Sultan El-Shawi played host in the garden of his breathtaking residence. It was a feast not only for the eyes but for the ears, as qanun-ists played mellow music, and the taste buds, which were tickled pink by the succulent hors d'oeuvres.
I immediately spotted Jamila Ali Raja, press attaché of the Yemeni embassy, being interviewed by Iman Gharib, the Nile TV International producer of the National Days programme. Arab League Secretary-General Esmat Abdel-Meguid made a cameo, along with Assistant Secretary-General Ahmed Bin Hilli. Among the distinguished guests I also saw Pakistan's Ambassador Anwar Kemal, Qatar's Ambassador Mohamed Bin Khalifa, and India's Ambassador Shiv Shankar Mukherjee as well as Yemen's chargé d'affaires Abdel-Salam Awadi. Humam Al-Aloussi of the Iraqi Consulate pointed out to me Adel Abdel-Nasser, youngest brother of the late president, but I had to move in a hurry without being introduced, because the event was being captured on film by cameramen placed everywhere, even on the balcony of the residence. I had just realised that I was standing in the only spot where the light was not entirely favourable to my beautiful mauve and fuschia silk kimono.
On 25 July, the Egyptian Folklore Ensemble of the American University in Cairo (AUC) are performing at the Egyptian embassy in Washington during the celebrations of our National Day, under the patronage of the Egyptian Ambassador to Washington Nabil Fahmy (AUC graduate 1974) and his lovely wife Nermine (AUC graduate 1975). The programme includes indigenous dances such as the Stick Dance, Melda, Al-Haggala, The Girls of the Nile and Al-Nuba Dance. The students, who are trained by professional members of the famous Reda Troupe, are in the United States to participate in international folklore festivals in North Carolina and Virginia until 4 August. The Ensemble comprises about 20 dancers, six musicians and four singers.
With its colourful costumes and vibrant rhythms reflecting the richness of Egyptian culture, the Egyptian Folklore Ensemble has charmed national and international audiences alike. Since 1986, it has toured the world, proudly representing Egypt and AUC at international folklore festivals.
Al-Ahram's Regional Institute for Journalism, in collaboration with the UNESCO office in Cairo and the Arab Journalists' Federation, recently organised a training course for Arab science reporters. The four-day course, the first of its kind, was inaugurated by Higher Education and Scientific Research Minister Mufid Shehab, head of the press and media department at Egypt's International University Hamdi Hassan, head of the UNESCO office Mohamed El-Deek and Secretary-General of the Arab Journalists' Federation Salaheddin Hafez. Thirty-two reporters from Egypt and 12 other Arab countries participated in the four-day course, which focused on the various scientific questions the media must tackle in the Arab world: from the basics to state-of-the-art methods in acquiring information related to medicine, genetic engineering and the environment.
For the first time in its history, the Faculty of Education is organising an experimental workshop for contemporary arts. The workshop, lasting until 11 August, is being arranged under the supervision of Dean Hamdi Abdallah and Shadi El-Noshokati, a professor of painting at the faculty. The workshop revolves around three basic concepts: acquainting budding contemporary artists with the state of their craft in the second half of the 20th century, organising open discussions and finally facilitating practical applications. Attending will be young artists Khaled Hafez, Ahmed Rif'at, Adel Tharwat, Ayman El-Samari and their counterparts from the more experienced generation, Mohamed Abla, Fathi Afifi, Mustafa El-Razzaz, Ahmed Fouad Selim and Mahmoud Abdel-Ati.
Our spunky Sports editor, Inas Mazhar, just gave birth to a gorgeous little girl, Nadine. Knowing that her mother was busy reporting on the World Cup, the child had the good sense to wait until France won before making her long-awaited appearance. I bet Inas and her husband Ihab El-Sharqawi are proud of the impeccable manners their first-born is already displaying.
Professor Abdel-Karim Darwish, former deputy minister of the interior and founder of the Police Academy, was selected this week by the International Olympic Committee for the 1999 Sports and Education Award.
The award was presented to Darwish by Munir Sabet, president of the Egyptian Olympic Committee, during a ceremony attended by Minister of Youth and Sports Aliyeddin Hilal and a large number of sportsmen and sportswomen.
Darlings, it is with great anticipation that I will start on Dr Rushdi Said's new book, which has just hit the bookstores. From what I can guess without taking more than a small peek, it is full of as yet undisclosed information and will make for fascinating reading. The book's title alone should whet your appetite. It is called "A Life's Journey, Egypt's Wealth from Abdel-Nasser to Sadat" and I will not be a bit surprised if we have much more to say about this guaranteed bestseller in the following weeks.
For you, dears, who have decided to take archeology seriously, Amr Hussein has just published a simple little booklet that will teach you the ABC of Hieroglyphics and which has was recently published by Elias Modern Press.