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Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 21 - 05 - 2009

Embracing the sky
In his pursuit to climb the highest mountain in every continent, Omar Samra did it again and raised Egypt's flag on his fourth summit on Carstenz Pyramid in Indonesia. He thus became the first Egyptian to reach the highest point in Australasia -- which includes Australia, New Zealand, Tazmania and parts of Indonesia. Carstenz Pyramid is 4,884 metres high and is located on the island of Western Papua, a remote and indigenous region inhabited by native tribes and cannibals.
Samra started his trip from Sugapa, a remote village with a population of between 400 and 500 inhabitants. Joining him was a team of four climbers including an Australian, a Scot, an American and a 73-year-old Japanese, in addition to four local guides and porters from different tribes.
"Carstenz Pyramid is the most technically challenging of the seven summits challenge because of the steepness and rocky nature of the terrain, which requires special skills and tools," said Samra. "This trip was also unique due to the tribal habitat in the region. Before we began our jungle trek towards the mountain, we had to meet with the tribe's chief to get his blessing and permission to proceed."
Samra added: "The trip to Carstenz base camp took six days in hot and humid weather, while trekking in dense jungles, 30cm deep mud pits, crossing cold and fast flowing rivers and slippery bridges. Mud-filled puddles were often the only source of water, and we had to boil the muddy water to be able to drink. White rice was our main meal for breakfast and dinner throughout the whole trip."
To complete his quest, Samra is looking for sponsors. "I believe the Ministry of Youth and Sports can play an active role to assist me in funding the remaining expeditions, either through direct sponsorship or through its vast network. I'm trying to approach them and I do hope they will be able to assist, so I can set a new record for Egypt and the Arab world."
In a prestigious celebration scheduled to take place at the Cairo Opera House next Tuesday, Egypt will receive the Peace Stone from Hiroshima Peace Association for its leading role in promoting peace in the Middle East. Director of the Opera House Abdel-Moneim Kamel said there has been coordination between the Culture Ministry and the Cultural Development Fund to finish the base designed for the stone to be installed in order to be placed in the garden of the Opera House. The Hiroshima Peace Association is a Japanese NGO founded in 1991 to promote peace in the world.
US Ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey honoured Egyptian youth set to participate in the 2009/10 Youth Exchange and Study (YES) programme and their families at a reception at her residence. Participants come from nine governorates in Egypt. In addressing the students, Scobey said, "the most rewarding work that we do is trying to create understanding and relationships between the people of Egypt and the people of the US. Even though our world has instant messaging through computers and cell phones and every other modern technology, technology and rapid communication don't necessarily mean understanding. The opportunity to spend time in a foreign country with friends and family that cherish you, I think, is the truest way to genuine cultural understanding." Established in 2002, the YES programme is part of the youth exchange programmes supported by the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA).
Under the auspices of the UAE Culture, Youth and Society Development Minister Abdel-Rahman Mohamed Al-Owaiss and Egyptian Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni, an exhibition on contemporary Egyptian art titled "Undercurrent" was inaugurated at ArtSawa gallery in Dubai. It showcases a selection of artworks by 29 prominent Egyptian artists. According to Hosni, the works revolve around one main theme which is life in Cairo, a unique overcrowded city that is full of energy and rich in political and social life, as the works reflect brilliantly the contemporary cultural scene in Egypt. Among the 29 artists are Ahmed Askalani, Ahmed Nawwar, Armen Agob, Atteyat El-Sayed, George Azmi, Hazem El-Mestekawi, Mohsen Shaalan, photographer Randa Shaath, Sobhi Gerguis and Ibrahim El-Dessouqi. Among the celebrities who were present in the opening was gorgeous actress Yossra.
photos: Abdel-Hamid Eid
The newly released Syrian blockbuster Celina made its way to Cairo in a thrilling private screening at Nile City cinema. Celina stars veteran Syrian comedian Doreid Laham, gorgeous Lebanese singer Miriam Faris and is directed by Hatem Ali. A galaxy of Egyptian stars attended the event to congratulate Faris on the success of her first cinema experience and shared the cheerful moments of the success of the film with the cast.
More news on summer blockbusters! Goodnews Cinema in the Grand Hyatt Hotel witnessed the private screening of the film Dokkan Shehata (Shehata's Store) starring sultry Lebanese singer Haifaa Wahbi, veteran actor Mahmoud Hemeida, controversial actress Ghada Abdel-Razeq and talented actor Amr Saad, directed by controversial filmmaker Khaled Youssef and scripted by Nasser Abdel-Rahman. The private screening was followed by a press conference attended by the film crew and a bevy of media figures and cinema critics.
For the third consecutive year, a celebration was held at Al-Azhar Park honouring students of the Austrian schools in Egypt who are the winners of the cultural contest titled "Austria Discovers Egypt". Organised by the Tourism Promotion Authority represented by the Egyptian Tourism Bureau in Austria, the contest included 60 students. Minister of Tourism Zoheir Garana, head of the Tourism Promotion Authority Amr El-Maghrabi and Egyptian tourism counsellor in Vienna Hazem Atteya participated in the celebration.
Last week, the launching of the latest and exclusive collection of the Turkish jewellery designer Zeynap Hanif took place at the classy Nile Boat Le Pacha, Amany Abdel-Moneim attended. Hanif 's designs which were shown for the first time in Egypt, are far from ordinary and ranging from classic to modern. The models strolled down the runway wearing Hanif 's fashionably elegant collection displaying her unique designs with exquisite mixture of gold, silver, precious and semi-precious stones. The event was attended by connoisseurs, spouses of ambassadors, media figures who came to see the latest in jewellery design. Among the attendees were members of the International Club, Al-Beit magazine Chief Editor Silvia El-Naqqadi, head of Al-Ahram Women Department Heba Louza, Al-Masry Al-Yom newspaper writer Gailane Gabr and wife of the Hungarian ambassador to Egypt Martina Schiller.
Veteran actor Nour El-Sherif celebrated his birthday in a villa in Al-Mansouriya where he was shooting his new TV series Matkhafoush (Don't Be Afraid), directed by Youssef Sharafeddin with the participation of a number of young actors. El-Sherif 's daughters budding actress Maye and director Sarah did not miss the opportunity to share the joy with their beloved father.
The Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture, in cooperation with Egypt-India Friendship Association, is organising a lecture titled "Indian Music: Hobby and Art" by Abdel-Moneim Khalil. The lecture will be held on 25 May at 6pm at the centre's premises at 23 Talaat Harb Street, Downtown, Cairo. Khalil is a professor in the Higher Institute for Arab Music, Art Academy and cultural advisor in the Cultural Development Fund. He has represented Egypt in several countries around the world, foremost among them being India, presenting music and song performances in Arabic and Hindu. He has received more than one opportunity to participate in Indian films produced in India and the US. The lecture will shed light on Indian music and its major features which make even non-professionals love and feel it even if they do not know its language. It will also approach the significance of knowing about Indian music and the common features of the Indian and Egyptian music.
Last week, the German Evangelical School in Doqqi held a thrilling ceremony to celebrate the graduation of class 2009 with the attendance of school principal Rupert Baab and the German Ambassador's Deputy in Egypt Erika Behrens.
Hannah, daughter of Al-Ahram Weekly 's very own talented photographer Sherif Sonbol was among the graduates. The Weekly remembers little Hannah, the apple of her father's eye, as a beautiful baby girl. Today she is a wonderful young lady and her parents are proud of her achievements.
photos: Bassam El-Zoghby
Last Friday, Heliopolis Association and Suzanne Mubarak Women's International Peace Movement, presided over by Mrs Suzanne Mubarak, held its annual Korba Carnival under the slogan "The Peace Carnival". Like the past five years, the carnival took place in Baghdad Street where the action started at 2pm after crowds flocked in occupying every inch of the street. Folk troupes from various Arab and foreign countries performed on stage, children drew and painted on the ground, and participating countries exhibited their traditional costumes. The audience enjoyed the spectacular musical performance of Wust Al-Balad playing their highly-sought after contemporary Egyptian songs. The entertaining musical programme was organised by Al-Sawy Cultural Wheel. At the very end of the day, people were very eager to see veteran pianist Omar Khayrat who dazzled them as usual with his exceptional performance.

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