Al-Ahram Weekly Online   17 - 23 June 2004
Issue No. 695
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Pack of cards

By Mme Sosostris

* My dears, there is nothing I enjoy more in the summer months than spending the evening on my terrace with fresh mango juice and a good book. I already have one to look forward to; the newest release of Dr Abdel-Salam Ragab, chairman of the Pharaonic Village and board member of the Children with Cancer's Hospital. The book, in the fine Arabic-language, is a work on pediatric oncology -- the cause being a personal interest of mine. The book is to be distributed, free of charge to children with cancer and their parents at pediatric oncology departments in hospitals. It offers illustrated, simplified information on cancer and its side effects in an attempt to raise awareness and ban the social stigma on the topic. This comes as part of the social contribution programme of the Pharaonic Village.

* A personal favourite of mine, the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR) in Cairo organised a gala dinner on 4 June to celebrate World Refugee Day as part of the 50th anniversary of UNHCR's presence in Egypt. The event was attended by officials from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior, diplomatic community, refugees as well as UNHCR's implementing partners. Almost 400 guests enjoyed the open-air atmosphere of Club Mohamed Ali, enjoying as well the music of famous Egyptian singer Mohamed Mounir, whose performance was a goodwill gesture on the occasion of the event. Mounir, my dears, is known for his charity work. Among those who attended were: UNHCR's Goodwill Ambassador Adel Imam who co- hosted the event; guest of honour Anne William Biljiveld, director of external relations at HQ; Ana Liria-Franch, the regional representative; Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Fayza Abul-Naga ; as well as Said Kamal, assistant secretary-general for Palestinian affairs with the League of Arab States, and a gathering of UNHCR staff. This gala dinner is part of a month-long series of events to commemorate World Refugee Day. Other events include a "Refugee football tournament", a celebration of refugee music and crafts in cooperation with American University in Cairo and a benefit performance of Adel Imam 's play The Bodyguard.

photo: Abdel-Hamid Eid

* Architecture is certainly one of the richest elements of our historic nation, and my dears, the opening of an exhibition entitled "The March Of One Shot: From 2002 to 2004" was most interesting, enhanced by the delightful presence of Ali Ghoneim, director general of Al- Ahram Organisation. Ghoneim inaugurated the event hosted at the art gallery of Al-Ahram's new building. The gallery, a collection of eye-opening pieces depicting Egyptian houses and their eclectic mix of traditional and modern, tracing back how they are constructed. Ghoneim told my friend, Mustafa El-Menshawy, that he was most pleased with the "the collective conscience of fresh- minded artists".

* My dears, our country is full of most accomplished and inspiring individuals. Next Monday, one such distinguished individual, Milad Hanna -- former head of the Housing Committee in the Egyptian Parliament and visiting professor at the University of New York School of Law, who is also winner of the State Award of Recognition in 2000 -- will participate in Barcelona Forum 2004. The forum, running from 9 May until 26 September, is a large-scale, unprecedented international event. This unparalleled event that gathers people of all cultures, takes place in a new area of Barcelona, next to the Bes˜s River. At the closing session, Hanna will take part in a seminar titled "Towards a universal Justice- Justice Without Borders in the XXI Century", which revolves around bringing international norms and institutions in line with international needs and expectations. For those of you lucky enough to spend the summer months in Spain, do try to partake in the Barcelona festivities.

* Music, my dears, is such an enriching sphere, and within the framework of the cultural exchange between the Cairo Opera House, the German Embassy in Cairo and Goethe Institute, the institute was most gracious to grant a number of wind instruments including trumpets and flutes to the Cairo Symphony Orchestra and the Cairo Opera Orchestra. German Ambassador in Egypt Martin Kobler and Director of the opera house Samir Farag spoke about the strong cultural relations between the two countries. Director of Goethe Institute Johannes Ebert said that the institute will grant the opera other musical instruments, equipment as well as providing it with technical aid and modern technology.

* Last week, Chairman of the Board of Elaf Travel and Tourism Group Moataz Fouad Kayal organised a press conference -- under the auspices of Tourism Minister Mamdouh El-Beltagui -- at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, in the presence of around 150 experts in tourism from Egyptian, Saudi and European companies. Under the title, "The Path of Hope for Arab Interdisciplinary Tourism", the conference was followed by honouring a group of artists: actors El-Sayed Radi, Hassan Youssef, Wagdi El-Arabi, retired actress Shams El- Baroudi and singer Mohamed Tharwat as well as distributing shields of distinction among the distinguished companies. Needless to say, my dears, as the sun shines stronger upon us and the holiday months hits, the buzzword of tourism is everywhere.

* The dynamic French Ambassador in Egypt Jean-Claude Cousseran celebrated the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the French Department at the Faculty of Economics and Political Sciences, Cairo University last Sunday. A bevy of luminary figures from Cairo University including professors, French and Egyptian politics and economy experts participated in the celebration. On this occasion, professor of Political Science at Paris University and head of Rotary Centre for International Studies on Maintaining Peace and Settling Disputes, Bertrand Badie, came to Egypt to deliver an extremely crucial lecture entitled "The Disability of Power, The New Crisis of the International Status" at the French Cultural Centre in Egypt. It was most stimulating. My dears, stimulating lectures are in abundance in our intellectually rich nation -- do take the time to attend those approaching in the summer months.

* My dears, it is most encouraging to hear of constructive efforts towards both change and safety in our environment. And when we do hear of such initiatives, I believe it is one's duty to share them. A couple of weeks ago, 50 primary school children of Misr 2000 school collected more than 20kg of used batteries, exchanging them with small plants, courtesy of the Ministry of Environmental Affair. This comes as an initiative of collecting used batteries and keeping them in a safe land fill in Alexandria. Minister of Environmental Affairs Mamdouh Riyad handed the children certificates of recognition as a way to encourage them to help keep their environment clean. Fourth grade student, Ramy Ahmed was among those who gathered the most batteries.

"When I knew about that initiative, I wanted to participate because I love my school and I would do anything to help," he explained. Among those who attended the event were Engie Marie Lorenzen, environment council of the Danish Embassy, project director at the British Aid Organisation Philip Gogo and Rafda Askar, the school's principal. Certainly an item to talk about.

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