Al-Ahram Weekly Online   4 - 11 June 2009
Issue No. 950
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Pack of cards

Posing for finals

Quite a way to study! But only at the Supreme Ballet Institute is such a pose a familiar scene. Zeinab Mohamed is a second year student at the institute specialising in choreography and direction. Sherif Sonbol wandered through the institute for four hours before he realised that it is about time to take the shot of Mohamed studying for her finals.

Amid an extensive presence of media personalities, Egypt received the Peace Stone from the Hiroshima Peace Foundation at the Cairo Opera House. The Hiroshima Peace Foundation is a Japanese NGO founded in 1991 to promote peace around the world. The base custom designed for the stone was created from carrara marble by Egyptian sculptor Nagui Farid and was placed in the garden facing the entrance to the Open-Air Theatre. Among the attendees were Japanese Ambassador to Egypt Kaoru Ishikawa, a representative from the Hiroshima Peace Foundation who delivered a message of harmony from the people of Hiroshima to the Egyptian people and their president, director of the Opera House Abdel-Moneim Kamel, first under-secretary at the Ministry of Culture, Mohamed Saber, deputising the minister of culture, Ambassador Mohamed El-Zorqani, assistant foreign minister for Asian countries affairs, head of the General Organisation for Cultural Palaces, Ahmed Megahed, head of the Cultural Development Fund, Mohamed Abu Seada, and director of the Central Administration for International Organisations at the Ministry of Culture, Nader Hafez.

Last week, the American University in Cairo Press held its annual book, art and music festival in celebration of AUC Press authors and new publications with musical performances by Elhami Amin and the enchanting Sudanese singer Sattouna at King Farouk's Corner, Helwan Corniche. AUC Press Director Mark Linz and a coterie of distinguished characters graced the occasion, including Al-Ahram Weekly 's Jill Kamel, a veteran AUC Press author; entertainment editor Rania Khallaf ; and international editor Gamal Nkrumah who, much to his surprise, was asked by Sattouna to dance with her on stage. Nkrumah gamely took to the dance floor with Sattouna 's lively dancers rounding up a delightful evening on the panoramic banks of the Nile. Nabila Aql from the AUC Press, playwright Linen El-Ramli, director of Nahdat Masr Publishing House Dahlia Ibrahim, and author Said El-Kafrawi, were also present.

Last Thursday, the newly named Australian ambassador to Egypt, Stephanie Shwabsky, started her activities presenting a cheque for around LE300,000 to the Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights (ECWR), headed over by Nihad Abul-Qomsan, to support a programme of activities in the field of women's legal rights. The funds will support ECWR's legal empowerment and aid project, in particular through the monitoring of women's access to legal rights. 2007 was the first year Egyptian NGOs were eligible to apply for funding from the Australian Human Rights Small Grants Scheme (HRSGS), which provides monetary support to the development of human rights awareness around the globe. In 2009, the HRSGS will fund projects in 19 countries across the Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East.

For the fifth consecutive year, Doroub Art Gallery in Garden City hosted a group Arabic calligraphy exhibition by Ahmed Faris, Munib Obradovich, Salah Abdel-Khaleq and Yousri Hassan. It was inaugurated by US Ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey and head of the Fine Arts Sector Mohsen Shaalan. Most of the calligraphers have participated in several local, Arab and international exhibitions and received prestigious awards from Pakistan, Turkey, Dubai, and have had acquisitions in Arab, Asian and European countries as well as the United States. ( see Listings p.5 )

photos: Abdel-Hamid Eid

GoodNews production company held a lavish private screening at the Cairo Opera House for its new blockbuster, Ibrahim Labyad, starring veteran actor Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz, talented actors Ahmed El-Saqqa and Hind Sabri, scripted by Abbas Abul-Hassan and created by the exceptionally talented young filmmaker Marwan Hamed. The screening was crowned by the presence of a galaxy of actors who congratulated the cast on the release of the film, among them veteran actors Adel Imam, Yossra, Syrian actor Gamal Suleiman, director Adel Adib and his wife, actress Manal Salama, talented director Rami Imam, script writer Tamer Habib, singer and actor Talaat Zein and actor Tamer Hagras as well as El-Saqqa 's wife Maha El-Soghayar. Hamed 's last hit blockbuster was The Yacoubian Building that won much critical acclaim and many awards.

Al-Shemou Salon in Maadi founded by book compiler Lotus Abdel-Kerim held a prestigious cultural and musical ceremony commemorating the 19th death anniversary of the timeless singer and composer Mohamed Abdel-Wahab. Present at the event were Kuwaiti Ambassador to Egypt Mohamed Al-Rashid and his Algerian counterpart Abdel-Qader Al-Hagar, veteran pianist Omar Khayrat, former minister of development Yehia El-Gamal, Mohamed Mohamed Abdel-Wahab, son of Abdel-Wahab, Nisf Al-Donia magazine Editor-in-Chief Afkar El-Kharadli, poet Ahmed El-Shahawi and TV presenter Khairi Ramadan.

photos: Ayman Barayez

A thrilling celebration was held at the Cairo Opera House Small Hall under the title "Africa Day". It featured African and Egyptian folk dancing directed by head of Al-Ghouri Caravansary and Samaa Troupe Intesar Abdel-Fattah. Sudanese folk singer and henna beautician Sattouna sang a number of African songs and Al-Tanoura Whirling Dervishes presented a spectacular dance show. Among the attendees were assistant to the minister of foreign affairs for Middle and West Africa Ibrahim Hafez as well as head of the Central Department of International Organisations at the Culture Ministry Nader Hafez.

The 19th Discovery International Pop Music Festival that concluded last month in Varna, Bulgaria, granted Egypt a prize for the song "No One Out There Like You" performed by Egyptian singer Shaimaa Sharaf. It was composed and arranged by Amro Salah, founder of Eftikasat jazz band and director of the Cairo Jazz Festival. Egypt was officially invited to the festival through the Cairo Opera House that nominated Salah, while Egypt's participation in the festival was supported by the Egyptian Embassy in Bulgaria and the Ministry of Culture. Eighteen participants were competing in the festival, among them Jia Ruan who sang in the inaugural ceremony of the last Olympic games. Salah has won many prizes as a songwriter and producer, including at the Cairo Song Festival, at Cavan (Ireland), Unisong (USA) as well as in Billboard (UK). Sharaf studied as a vocalist in Italy where she also lived and worked.

Al-Ahram Weekly 's dear friend, former MP and distinguished professor of political science at the American University in Cairo, Mona Makram Ebeid has been invited by the National Democratic Institute to be a member of the international election observation delegation for the 7 June 2009 parliamentary elections in Lebanon.

The delegation comprises political and civic leaders, election experts and regional specialists from around the world who will participate in briefings with political parties, government officials as well as observing balloting and vote counting on election day.

Last week, the Cairo Opera House Open-Air Theatre was overcrowded with a rich array of members of the French community in Egypt and a starburst of elegant ladies all flocking to attend Abdel-Hak 's haute couture, including Reham El-Adawi. The up- and-coming 26-year-old fashion designer succeeded in establishing connections with the French community who appreciated his talent. He showed his 2009 summer collection of daring and exquisite soirée, sans bretelle gowns, ensembles and wedding dresses. Abdel-Hak, who is determined to place himself on the map of the local -- if not the international -- fashion scene is planning to organise his upcoming fashion show this month in the French Embassy's elegant garden.

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