|Al-Ahram Weekly On-line
19 - 25 October 2000
Issue No. 504
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
Pack of Cards
By Madame Sosostris
* Something to be proud of, dears: my good friend Dr Ali Mahran Hisham has just received a very prestigious Japanese award, in environmental creative thinking. Considering how difficult it is to be environmentally friendly, I am filled with respect for someone who can manage to be creative as well. Of course Ali, having lived so long in Japan, understood all the speeches delivered in his honour, praising the research he has done on buildings and techniques that may one day help save the globe from pollution. As Japanese is not one of my areas of expertise, I had to ask my dear colleague Nesmahar Sayed Ali to translate the news for me.
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* The Foreign Affairs League of the Press Syndicate headed by our dear colleague Sameh Abdallah and the European Commission recently organised a very interesting three-day symposium and titled Egypt and the EU: The Barcelona Process, which took place at the syndicate headquarters. The seminar was opened by Ambassador Mahdi Fathallah, assistant to the foreign minister for European affairs, and Ambassador Gamal Bayoumi, assistant to the foreign minister for European Partnership affairs. The event was facilitated by Abdel-Moneim Said, director of Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies and attended by a large number of diplomats of the European Union in Cairo as well as journalists. The aim of the meeting was to acquaint Egyptian journalists with the various ramifications of the Barcelona Process and the future of relations among Mediterranean countries. To crown these fruitful three days fittingly, the European Union Commission is organising a trip to Brussels for a delegation from the syndicate, whose members will have a chance to acquaint themselves with the commission's work in situ.
* Al-Salam Hospital in Mohandessin, headed by my dear friend, renowned Professor Doctor Fathi Iskandar, chairman of the board, has good reason to celebrate: they have been awarded the ISO (International Standardisation Organisation) 9002 certificate. As you may have heard, this organisation has established international standards based on 20 requirements that the administration body of the hospital has to fulfill to be approved as having a quality assurance system. Well, dears, I am happy to tell you that this particular Al-Salam hospital has just won the certification thumbs up.
* Darlings, you do know how awfully cosmopolitan I am, and how the crème de la crème loves rubbing shoulders with me. Not long ago, it was Canadian Ambassador Marie-Andrée Beauchemin who afforded them the opportunity when she hosted a superb garden party at her Zamalek residence. I am very fond of Canadians, especially the Québécois. While Monday-night hockey may not be my thing, I insist on putting sirop d'érable on my pancakes and I actually know what poutine is -- French fries topped with gravy and clumps of gruyère cheese.
To my surprise, I discovered the other evening that Beauchemin has added a feminine touch to the mundane white crépis of her classical residence, by having the entire structure repainted in pretty pink. Upon entry past the heavily secured front gates, I was warmly greeted by Beauchemin, Counsellor Darren Schemmer, and the embassy's press man, Walid Khoury, who kindly took me around to meet many of the movers and shakers at the Canadian representation in Cairo. Among them were Danielle Walker, David Hutchings, Nevine Osman, Isabelle Martin and her husband Jalal Alaoui.
The garden was filled with some 200 sparkling personalities. I caught sight of two dear Al-Ahram Weekly colleagues, Gamal Nkrumah and Tanya Goudsouzian. Then I spotted sociologist Saadeddin Ibrahim chatting with John Munro from the European Union, and, further on, actor Hussein Fahmy, flashing his killer grin. What a pleasure it was to meet Col Fadil Abdesslam from the Moroccan embassy. Also mingling in the crowd was the ambassador's pet pooch, with shaggy white hair and a bright red scarf tied around his neck.
* A photographic exhibition titled "Hidden Japan" by the Japanese photographer and leading graphic designer Kijuro Yahagi will be organised by the Japan Foundation in Cairo, in collaboration with the General Organisation of Cultural Palaces (GOCP) and the Faculty of Fine Arts, Helwan University. The exhibition, which starts on 19 October at the gallery of the faculty, has been travelling around Eastern Europe and the Middle East since April and will return home in March 2001. It shows almost 80 very original photographs.
Along equally cultural lines, the director of the Italian Cultural Institute, Attilio De Gasperis, inaugurated an interesting exhibition titled "Vetri Italiani del 20 Secolo: Murano 1921-1996" at the Institute's gallery in Zamalek.
LThe exhibition showcases some items from Luca Bossaglia's private collection of glass works. You may not know it, but Bossaglia acquired his fame as a collector of artistic pieces that commemorate the history of Murano glass in the 20th century. On this occasion, priceless works by leading Egyptian artists in this field, such as Zakaria El-Khanani and Aida Abdel-Karim, are on display. Bossaglia's interest was concentrated more on the Venetian glass that became globally prominent starting around 1200. I bet, my sweets, you will be as impressed as I was by the ravishing shapes and bright colours on display.
My olfactory nerves were tickled pink last week: eight years after its launch, French couturier Thierry Mugler's fragrance Angel has made an appearance in Egypt. A select group of journalists were summoned to the Nile Hilton's Aida Ballroom to sample the scent. One of Mugler's perfume gurus was flown in from Paris specially for the occasion to explain, in laymen's terms, what sets Angel apart from the rest. A clip of Mugler's Fall 2000 show was featured on a giant screen. Amazon-like women with tiny waists and impossible busts strutted down the catwalks in concoctions straight out of comic strips. Comic strips have indeed been an important source of inspiration for the Frenchman, whose idea of ultimate feminity was epitomised by the sirens of Hollywood's golden era -- Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Anita Ekberg, Rita Hayworth, etc. The idea behind Angel's unique scent is that it encapsulate all that should be associated with a Mugler woman -- mysterious, sensual and very, very light. When the presentation was over, I quickly dashed over to the counter where the marketing ladies were handing out the échantillons. The sky-blue star-shaped bottle with a silver cap is so special that I must make an exception and have it figure prominently in my collection, although as a rule I only include very old and rare bottles.
The family of Al-Ahram Weekly celebrating Editor-in-Chief Hosny Guindy's 60th birthday at the Cairo Diplomatic Club
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