Al-Ahram Weekly   Al-Ahram Weekly
2 - 8 December 1999
Issue No. 458
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Issues navigation Current Issue Previous Issue Back Issues

Front Page

Pack of Cards

By Madame Sosostris

SosostrisHeikalYou may remember dears that I told you two weeks ago that the renowned political writer I -- and many others -- admire most, Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, had travelled to Cleveland for a surgical intervention. I am happy to let you know that Heikal is back in Egypt in good health and is comfortably convalescing for a few days before resuming his normal activities.

Once again this year, as you may have noticed dears, -- don't feel embarrassed if you haven't, I know that at least one of my dearest friends has been caught unprepared and is throwing a last minute Christmas party next week -- Ramadan and Christmas, will be overlapping. To mark the coincidence, the Shadicor Gallery is holding an exhibition of the works of 25 Muslim and Christian artists which was opened last week. There is also a special show of children's drawings on the sidelines expected to last until 10 January.

Adel Sabet, who manages the Shadicor Gallery, pointed out to me the interesting composition in one of Farouk Wagdy's paintings mixing Ramadan lanterns and bright Christmas flowers, while his portraying of a mosque and church side by side spells out even more clearly the message of national unity. More Christmas flowers by Ibrahim El-Azhari, Mohsen Darwish, Mohamed Youssef and Mohamed Desuqi. As for the very talented career diplomat and artist Youssri El-Kowedi, he made use of tangible, colourful, juxtaposed objects, to reflect the close ties that link the two religions.

danceAnother very interesting exhibition is that of the works of orientalist artist Prisse d'Avennes, alias Idriss Effendi, who lived in Egypt in 1829. His lithographs are displayed right now at El-Marsam Gallery in Nasr City. You'd better hurry dears, if like me, you are orientalists at heart because the show will only last another week, until 7 December.


And now my darlings hold your breath while you picture with your mind's eye -- if you were not invited of course ..-- the momentous reception thrown last week to celebrate the 130 birthday of the Gezira Palace AKA Mariott Hotel. Of course I knew about the details beforehand and you may remember that I hastened to share them with you. I was wrong on one count however, I confess: my dear friend Maged Farag did not come in a royal carriage as expected but in a vintage Bentley which was brought to an abrupt halt in front of the Royal Entrance by a uniformed and tarboushed chauffeur. Wouldn't you say that dear Maged is the orientalist par excellence? More importantly, the books he has been preparing in great secret about the history of the hotel were finally ready just in time for the celebration.

MarriotMaged has really surpassed himself this time, subtly transforming a publicity brochure into a precious historical tome adorned with rare photographs of the palace which became a five star hotel. I am so used to seeing the contrary happening these days (i.e. a historical event turned into a publicity stunt), that I really have to extend my warmest congratulations to the management of the Mariott Hotel for having shown taste and wisdom -- a rare combination in commissioning the commemorative volume.

Nile Hilton's BD A much younger member of the Egyptian hotels family was also celebrating its birthday. The forty-year-young Nile Hilton which boasts the honour of being the first modern hotel in Egypt opened its doors in 1959 and was inaugurated by the late President Gamal Abdel-Nasser and Conrad Hilton.

Since the beginning of 1999, the hotel has launched a series of celebrations culminating in a magnificent gala reception held at the famous Nile Hilton Alf Leila wa Leila ballroom. Many dignitaries and VIPs attended: Prime Minister Atef Ebeid, Minister of Tourism Mamdouh El-Beltagui, former Prime Minister Ali Lutfi and former Minister Abdel-Qader Hatem were joined by Mahmoud Abdel-Wahab, chairman and managing director of Misr Hotels Company which owns the Nile Hilton and Hassan Hamza, general manager of the Nile Hilton and vice-president of Hilton Hotels for Africa in cutting a giant white cake in the shape of the hotel.

Newly wedWell darlings with the new millennium practically poking its nose in the door, many people are acting already on their resolutions for the future. Rami, son of our dear friend and assistant chief editor of Al-Ahram Wagdi Riad, for instance, has hastened to make his intentions known by getting engaged to fellow AUCian Karina, daughter of businessman Nabil Zeidan giving me last week the opportunity to attend a lavish swimming pool engagement party at the Conrad Hotel.

All those bright young people danced the happy event -- and the night -- away, but let me tell you that none of them could outshine me when I began to do the Conga.