Al-Ahram Weekly   Al-Ahram Weekly
7 - 13 September 2000
Issue No. 498
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Issues navigation Current Issue Previous Issue Back Issues


Pack of Cards

By Madame Sosostris

* A few years ago, the United Nations came up with a grand idea, and started to appoint movie stars and celebrities as their good-will ambassadors. These people have been doing a great job promoting various projects launched by the United Nations. Naturally, when people know that a favourite actor or actress is taking an interest in a good cause, they are much more responsive. The humanitarian programme of UNDP in Egypt is one endeavour strongly promoted by Safiya El-Emari, Hussein Fahmi and Adel Imam. In view of the time and effort these three stars among stars have put in, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a reception at the Diplomatic (formerly Mohamed Ali) Club to pay tribute to our three ambassadors. Needless to say, it was attended by scores of dignitaries and representatives of the media. The rumour has it that Ambassador Hamdi Saleh and Nahed Salama, UNDP programming assistant, were instrumental in organising the event.

Edmund Cain, UNDP resident representative, praised the contribution of the good-will ambassadors, adding that when he accompanied Hussein Fahmi on a tour of the UN headquarters in New York he noticed that the actor was "just as much a star in the UN as he is in Egypt." Both Safiya El-Emari and Adel Imam received their share of compliments and more. Between you, me and the wall, dears, I suspect that without them, no activity (no matter how beneficial to humanity) would have drawn as much attention from a public with a very special place in their hearts for their beloved movie stars.

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* There is a special show that I would really not like you to miss, dears: that organised by Khan El-Maghraby in honour of great artist and cat lover Tahia Halim to celebrate her 81st birthday. Entitled Lots of Love to Tahia Halim, the exhibition will open on 9 September and will run for 20 days; more to the point, you will have the opportunity to admire sketches that have never been exhibited before. I must tell you that I can't wait for the opening, since I have always been a great admirer of the artist's work. See you there, then, and let's all wish Tahia Halim the happiest of birthdays.

* Action begins at Le Méridien Heliopolis, which has been chosen as the best location for shooting the new TV soap currently under preparation,Wagh Al-Qamar (The Face of the Moon), directed by Adel El-A'sar and featuring the one and only Faten Hamama, and super stars Ahmed Ramzi, Gamil Ratib, and Wael Nour. As for us, dears, all we have to do is tune in come the holy month of Ramadan.

* I am so happy that environmentalists are getting the credit they desrve these days! The Committee on Environment of the National Democratic Party recently organised an artistic encounter at the Radio Theatre of the Pyramids to think of creative ways of promoting care for the environment. During the event, actor Mohamed Sobhi was honoured for the role he has been playing in this field, raising people's awareness of environmental issues through his numerous films and plays.

* My dear friend Tarek Heggy has done it again and come out with yet one more interesting little volume, entitled Culture First and Foremost, which promises to be quite enlightening. As I finish the day's work, my darlings, I am thinking of reserving a few hours tonight to acquaint myself with what such an interesting writer has to say this time.

* Our own charming Mariz Tadros, daughter of Al-Ahram's Fikry Tadros, was engaged to Akram Rifaat during a blissful ceremony at the Saint Mar Guirguis Church. Later on in the evening festivities continued in the romantic setting of Port Fino. Editor-in-chief of Al-Ahram Weekly Hosny Guindy and his enchanting wife Moushira were there, as were Managing Editor Hani Shukrallah, Gamal Nkrumah, Faiza Radi with her husband Ted Blashak, Fatemah Farag, Dominic Coldwell and Heba Samir. The setting for such an event could not have been more perfect: dim lights, tables decked with flowers, a breathtaking view of the Nile and, most of all, the sight of a handsome couple basking in happiness.

Atef Ebeid * If you are in the mood for something a teensy bit academic, on 11 September AUC will co-organise the opening session of the 26th International Conference entitled "Very Large Databases (VLDB2000)" at the Mena House Oberoi's Khalifa Hall. The conference will be held under the auspices of Prime Minister Atef Ebeid, and the conference chairman, Nabil Kamal. Australian Ebbe Nielsen, one of the world's leading biodiversity scientists, will deliver the inaugural speech. Representatives from no less than 30 countries will participate to discuss fascinating issues such as Web and Internet security, data mining and its role in database systems and the high performance of data management.

* And as I could have told you a few years ago already, the Web is here to stay and we have to reckon with it. Recently Dar Al-Shurouq's chairman Ibrahim El-Moallem was telling me that he had his mind set on creating the Arab world's most powerful portal (a huge website, for those of you who, like me, are hearing the word for the first time). Last week he signed an unprecedented contract with Egyptian Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz which gives El-Moallem the exclusive rights to publish Mahfouz's literature in all languages on the Internet. In return, Mahfouz received a million-pound cheque at a small party attended by several intellectuals including Akhbar Al-Adab's Gamal El-Ghitani. El-Moallem also struck two other exclusive deals with pioneers in journalism and music. The first is with none other than Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, who will allow the portal to publish all his works. The second was struck with Sawt Al-Fann record company, which sold El-Moallem the right to make the legendary Umm Kulthoum's songs available in MP3 format. Says El-Moallem, "I want to create the biggest website, and where should I begin if not with our pioneers in all fields?"

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