Thursday,19 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1306, (4 - 10 August 2016)
Thursday,19 October, 2017
Issue 1306, (4 - 10 August 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Obituary:Pioneer environment journalist

Omaima Kamel (1944-2016)

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Omaima Kamel, a pioneer in scientific and environmental journalism for television and radio in Egypt and the Arab world, passed away on Monday 18 July at the age of 72.  Kamel started working in Egyptian radio in the mid-60s in a career that stretched almost 40 years. She was the first graduate of the Faculty of Science majoring in chemistry and geology to work for Egyptian radio while continuing her studies to attain a doctorate degree in organic medicinal chemistry.

Throughout her career she focused on scientific and cultural programmes, and started the school of popularisation of science, becoming the first to head scientific programmes in Egyptian radio. Among her most celebrated programmes were Science and Life, Scientists under the Spotlight, Space World, Scientific Encyclopedia, A Window on Knowledge and Road of Days.

In the early 90s, Kamel joined Egyptian television where she presented One World, the first environmental programme in the Arab world. One World was a weekly show which shed light on various environmental issues in Egypt and the rest of the world. She also presented a series of documentaries called The Sons of the River Nile, featuring the lives of Egypt’s most prominent scientists and their contribution in the scientific arena.

Kamel also designed and executed several media campaigns on radio and TV, focussing on health and environmental awareness, including anti-smoking, saving water, protecting Cairo’s air, and combatting industrial pollution.

Kamel also established the Green Corner, the first specialised library for environmental issues for children.

Kamel was a member of several scientific committees, including The People’s Assembly’s Health and Environment Committee, the Scientific Culture Committee of the Higher Council of Culture, the Environmental Committee of the National Women’s Council, and the Genetic Engineering Committee at the Specialised National Councils. She was also head of the Scientific Cultural Committee at the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, and an alumni of the Salzburg Seminar.

Kamel also established an NGO called Science Protects our Life.  In 1989, she was awarded the National Award for the Popularisation of Science. In 1992, she was awarded the American Hall of Fame Award for Science Educators, and in 1997 she received the Doctors Syndicate Shield for her contribution in raising public awareness of health and environmental issues. In 2004 she received the WHO shield for the same cause.

In 1999, she was awarded the Mustafa Gamal Tolba Award for environmental awareness. Kamel also received the UNIPS first African award for her documentary The Ozone Layer the Protector of Earth. Her achievements also included writing a book Problems of the First Child. In addition, she translated a children’s book entitled This is my Planet to Arabic. Throughout her life and career, Kamel believed that science and raising public awareness were the only way to eradicate poverty, disease and ignorance in the region.

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