Al-Ahram Weekly   Al-Ahram Weekly
30 Dec. 1999 - 5 Jan. 2000
Issue No. 462
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Issues navigation Current Issue Previous Issue Back Issues
20th century Special issue  [INDEX]

< 1980-89 1990 - 1999  
Mega-project at Toshki President Hosni Mubarak
East Port Said Ahmed ZuweilNasr Hamed Abu Zeid
Al-MuhagerAmr Diab
Departure of troops to Hafr Al-Baten 1992 earthquake
Sharm Al-Sheikh Conference 1996 Cairo Summit
Reading for All 6-th October bridge

Perhaps because this decade is so close to us as we prepare to leave the century behind, the '90s are difficult to pin down or sum up. If anything, this has been the decade of economic reform and national mega-projects; but it also witnessed a wave of terror that spilled over from the '80s to the '90s, and from Upper Egypt into Cairo's streets.

Many of the country's major public figures were targeted by the terrorists' campaign: secular intellectual Farag Foda, shot in 1992 as he was leaving his house; Naguib Mahfouz, who almost lost his life to a young would-be assassin in 1994; Nasr Hamed Abu Zeid (right, second from top), accused of apostasy and sentenced to separation from his wife, Ibtihal Younes, by court order in 1995; and Youssef Chahine, whose film Al-Muhagir (featuring Youssra, right, third from top) was banned in 1994.

On the Arab scene, the decade had opened with the Gulf War. Egypt's role was most clearly expressed in its hosting of the 1990 Cairo Summit, held to discuss the invasion, and the departure of Egyptian troops to Hafr Al-Baten (left, second from top), where they fought in the military alliance formed to expel Iraq from Kuwait.

The '90s also witnessed twists and turns in the Arab-Israeli peace process: Egypt was directly involved in the 1994 Oslo II agreement, signed in Cairo; the Sharm Al-Sheikh conference of 1995 (left, second from bottom); and the Cairo Summit of 1996. Barak's accession to power in Israel was a new turning point, after which Egypt began to play an increasingly pivotal role in the reconciliation process.

Both destruction and construction marked these ten years. The 1992 earthquake (second row, second from left) destroyed thousands of homes, further aggravating the housing crisis in the capital. After mid-decade, the infrastructure received the lion's share of attention as national mega-projects like Toshki (top left) and East Port Said (second from top, third from left) got off the ground. President Mubarak paid particular attention to desert reclamation efforts (sidebar, top). Attempts to alleviate the massive traffic jams that have become a part of daily life for Cairo's residents were seen in the addition of extensions to the city's main bridges (bottom centre) and the construction of new links allowing commuters to bypass the congested central districts.

Pop culture came into its own during the '90s: Amr Diab (far right, second from bottom) set hearts fluttering and feet tapping across the nation with each new album he released, and sparked a new fashion trend every time he changed his shirt; Mohamed Heneidi (right) had audiences rolling in their seats, giggling helplessly, with a barrage of box-office blockbusters: Ismailiya and Back Again, An Upper Egyptian at the American University, and most recently, Hammam in Amsterdam.

The success of the Reading for All Initiative (bottom left), sponsored by Mrs Mubarak, brought books to the countryside and poor urban areas, making it possible for underprivileged children to read to their heart's content. The project also included the reprinting and mass distribution of numerous books, both classics and previously little-known gems, at eminently affordable prices.

   Top of page
Front Page