Well, dears, you know how pleasant it is to mingle, especially when one does so with fascinating people like Ali Ghoneim, deputy chairman and general manager of Al-Ahram Organisation, who was also deputising for our Chairman of the Board and Editor-in-Chief Ibrahim Nafie, who could not attend; former prime minister Ali Lutfi; Zakariya Azmi, chief of presidential staff; Youssef Boutros Ghali minister of economy; Kamal El-Shazli, minister of state for parliamentary affairs; Hitler Tantawi, chief of the administrative control authority; Amina El-Guindi, minister of social affairs and social insurance and Mohamed Abdellah, head of parliamentary committee for foreign relations to name just a few of those I could see in the crowd. I spotted nearly all my dear colleagues from the various publications of Al-Ahram. The superb cake was a present from the Armed Forces, and believe me, it was absolutely delicious. Essam and his lovely wife and colleague Shahira El-Raf'i made sure that all the guests were having a good time. A special celebratory issue of Ektesady was distributed to the distinguished guests and I have made sure to file mine away in a safe place, to bequeath to my grandchildren when the time comes.
* Among the many conferences I plan to attend this week, I have picked my very favourite to tell you about, dears: It will take place at the American University in Cairo on 10 April, is titled "Regional Integration and the Future of an Arab Common Market" and is part of the fascinating English Public Lectures Series. The speakers will be none other than my dear friends Abdel-Moneim Said, director of Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies and Adel Beshai, AUC professor of economics and a member of the Shura Council. I hope that I will see many of you there.
* Aren't we proud when an Egyptian gains fame overseas? I just heard that composer Hossam Fouad Mahmoud won an honorary award from the Austrian government for his musical compositions. Hossam, who attended the Mozarteum in Salzburg, from where he graduated with distinction, is a well-known figure in that happy city, which for centuries has resounded with the music of Europe's greatest composers. He has already presented several of his compositions, among them Nargis, The Sadness of the King and Scheherazade, in France and Germany
* If you happen to be going to AUC in the next few days, dears (and if you don't, I suggest that you plan a special trip at once), head directly to the Entrance Hall of the AUC Press Building, where you will be able to behold an installation by Egypt's foremost contemporary artist (and AUC alumna) Anna Boghiguian, on the theme of books and publishing. This amazing exhibit, which I will let you discover for yourselves, is one of the many happenings marking the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the American University in Cairo Press, so dynamically directed these days by my dear friend Mark Linz. If, like me, you are addicted to books, I am sure that you have noticed by now the number and quality of volumes that we owe to Mark's infallible acumen. I am quite sure that your admiration for Anna's installation will induce you to have a look at the display in the bookshop too.
* I feel really spoilt this week, having attended the exhibition of sculpture and painting by Sayed Amin Fayed at the Goethe Institute art gallery, which was inaugurated in cooperation with my dear friend, Ursula Schernig, owner of the Kunst des Niltals gallery in Germany. The exhibition, running until 18 April, is one with a message, and there are some very interesting paintings reminiscent of things Pharaonic, which I always find fascinating.