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Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 13 - 08 - 2009

Block ahead
On the new extension of the Greater Cairo Ring Road, drivers are up for a surprise every day, as photographer Sherif Sonbol endeavours to show. On reaching the Pyramids -- as can be seen in the side-view mirror -- drivers suddenly come against an unannounced road block and are forced to turn back into the sand. The secret? A new extension is being constructed that necessitates the block ahead, but with cars queuing up further and further, and the general view looking more like an involuntary desert safari than a daily road trip, one wonders why no road sign could announce the road block on the way to its location.
The Alexandria Fourth Arab Music Festival was inaugurated last week by Cairo Opera House Director Abdel-Moneim Kamel and the festival's commissar, Ratiba El-Hefni, at the Sayed Darwish Theatre (the Alexandria Opera House).
The opening ceremony was enlivened by the performance of the Abdel-Halim Noweira Arab Music Ensemble, conducted by Salah Ghoubashi, presenting a repertoire of classical Arab songs. It also featured the powerful voice of budding singer Maye Farouk, who performed the best of late diva Umm Kolthoum. The grand finale was the thrilling performance of veteran singer Hani Shaker, who mesmerised the audience with a collection of classical Arab songs by the likes of Sayed Mekkawi, Fayza Ahmed, Umm Kolthoum and Abdel-Halim Hafez as well as a number of his own highly sought after songs.
The Zamalek Inner Wheel Club presided over by Samia Abul- Fottouh inaugurated the first kidney dialysis unit for children at Abul-Reish Hospital under the auspices of Minister of Social Solidarity Ali Meselhi and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University Sameh Farid, as part of their charity work.
Head of the kidney dialysis unit Bahiya Mustafa, head of Cairo University hospitals Ashraf Hatem as well as members of the club, including Fatina Fadel, Nabil Abdel-Aziz, Noha Saad, Hasnaa Abdel-Moneim, Ola Ragab, Nelly Helmi, Iman Abdel-Latif and Nevine El-Ebrashi attended the opening of the unit.
Last week, popular Nubian singer Mohamed Mounir rocked the North Coast resort of Cazabianca as he featured in a dazzling concert. The much anticipated concert was attended by thousands of Mounir 's dedicated fans who went all the way to Cazabianca to listen to the enchanting tunes of their favourite music icon on the Mediterranean Coast.
The closing ceremony of the Third Wahran International Arab Film Festival witnessed the distribution of a number of awards. Veteran actress Elham Shahine attended the screening of her film Khaltet Fawzya (Fawzya's Secret Recipe). The film received two awards, the first for Best Actress that went to Shahine for her role in the film, the second for Best Film that went to director Magdi Ahmed Ali. The talented Algerian actor Hassan Qashash was granted the Best Actor award, handed to him by veteran Egyptian actress and festival jury member Nabila Ebeid. The award for Best Script was given to Syrian director Abdel-Latif Abdel-Hamid for his film Ayam Al-Dagar (Days of Anger), presented to talented Syrian actor Gamal Suleiman who received the award on behalf of Abdel-Hamid. The Best Director award went to Moroccan director Noureddin Al-Khimari.
Qandil, Fathi, Abdel-Aziz and Shahine
photos: Abdel-Hamid Eid
At the Sayed Darwish Theatre in Alexandria, the inaugural ceremony of the 25th Alexandria International Film Festival took place. The festival celebrated its silver jubilee and dedicated this round to late veteran writer and journalist Kamal El-Malakh. Alexandria Governor Adel Labib, in cooperation with head of the Egyptian Association of Cinema Critics and Writers Mamdouh El-Leithi and president of this round, famous movie critic Khairia El-Bishlawi, distributed the awards among the honourees.
On the top of those honoured were veteran actress Mariam Fakhreddin, veteran comedian Hassan Hosni, veteran director Tawfiq Saleh as well as talented scriptwriter Faisal Nada who dedicated his honorary award to late director Nour El-Demerdash. The celebration began with an operetta featuring dazzling singer Rahma. Afterwards, TV presenter and media figure Amr Adeeb distributed the award named after his father, Abdel-Hai Adib, among the cinema's budding artists. The ceremony was crowned by the presence of retired actress Naglaa Fathi and her husband, renowned media figure Hamdi Qandil. The couple was overwhelmed by the warm welcome of their audience who received them with a long standing ovation. Consummate actor Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz and his wife, TV presenter Poussy Shalabi, actors Khaled Zaki, Elham Shahine and Lebleba and Fifi Abdu were all present.
Powerful voices Medhat Saleh and Khaled Selim featured in thrilling concerts at Qait Bey Fort in Alexandria within the framework of the eighth round of the Qait Bey Fort Festival for Music and Singing organised by the Cairo Opera House. The concerts witnessed the turnout of large groups of fans.
On the occasion of the 62nd anniversary of India's Independence Day, the Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC) will organise, in cooperation with the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, an exhibition entitled "Gandhi: His Life and His Message" from 15 to 20 August.
The exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi, father of the Indian nation, will feature portraits, photographs, and books. Documentary films will also be screened. It will be jointly inaugurated by Ambassador of India to Egypt R Swaminathan and Bibliotheca Alexandrina Director Ismail Serageldin.
Of all the national leaders associated with India's struggle for freedom, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2 October 1869-30 January 1948) is the most revered. He was the pioneer of Satyagraha resistance based upon the twin principles of truth and ahimsa or total non-violence. His vision and philosophy inspired not only India's struggle for freedom, but also movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. He is commonly known and addressed worldwide as Mahatma ("Great Soul" in Hindi).
Gandhi was not only a great leader but also a gifted and prolific writer. His collected works comprise around 100 volumes of which his autobiography, My Experiments with Truth, is essential reading for those interested in Gandhi's philosophy.
His birthday on 2 October is a national holiday in India. On 15 June 2007, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution piloted by India with the co-sponsorship of 142 countries to annually observe and celebrate Mahatma Gandhi's birthday as the International Day of Non-Violence.
The British Council is bringing 14 leading theatre professionals from the Near East and North Africa to take part in the biennial Edinburgh Showcase, which runs alongside the Edinburgh International Festival from 14 August to 6 September, one of the world's biggest festivals of performing arts.
From the 24-29 August 2009, delegates from countries including Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Syria and Tunisia, will be taking part in the programme, which is a diverse mix of contemporary UK performances, ranging from the experimental to the established. Participation is organised within the framework of a broader British Council project supporting creative collaboration between theatre professionals in the region and the UK.
In New York, Outskirts Press Publishing House recently issued the English edition of Mohamed Abdel-Salam El-Emari's novel The Wedding Palace. From the author of Descent to Egypt, The Silence of Sand and A Soul's Shelter comes a book that mixes fairytale romance, Shakespearean plot twists and stirring suspense for a page-turning novel that will keep you guessing right up to the shocking finale. The novel is translated by professor of English language at Al-Azhar University Laila Osman.
photo: Ayman Barayez
In honour of Hassan Hamdi, general manager of Al - Ahram Advertising Department, a prestigious ceremony was held on the occasion of his being elected president of Ahli Sporting Club. Al-Ahram Chairman of the Board Abdel-Moneim Said and Al-Ahram Editor-in-Chief Osama Saraya granted Hamdi the honorary shield. Saraya gave the opening speech in which he said that Hamdi was indeed an icon of Al-Ahram Establishment. At the end of the celebration, Hamdi expressed his gratitude for the attendance of numerous media personalities as well as Al-Ahram veteran writers and reporters.

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