200 years on Egyptian French relations

18-10-2016 10:06 PM

Mary Fikry Nevine Kameel

To celebrate 200 years on Egyptian French relations, a two-day event has been held by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s (BA) Centre for Francophone Activities (CAF), in cooperation with the French Embassy in Cairo and the French Chamber of Commerce in Egypt. The event, which runs through 17 and 18 October 2016 and has been in preparation since 2014, is held under the aegis of the Egyptian Tourism Authority and the Egyptian and French Ministries of Tourism. France’s relations with Egypt go back to the military campaign by Napoleon against Egypt, which took place in 1798 – 1801. Napoleon brought with him an army of scholars and researchers who roved the land far and wide and documented their finds in the epic tome ++Description de L’Egypte++. Even though Egyptians resisted the French occupation of their land with all their might, it was the first time in centuries Egypt, then under Ottoman rule, gets a glimpse of a civilisation and culture outside the Arab culture. Many historians mark this short-lived campaign as Egypt’s first propulsion towards modernity which nevertheless had to wait till Muhammad Ali Pasha in 1805 became Ottoman Viceroy to Egypt, and worked the country’s venture into the modern world.
The first day of the BA event, 17 October, saw a conference held at the BA under the title: “Two Centuries of Egyptian-French Relations: Common Destiny and Prospects” curing which distinguished speakers from Egypt and France tackled political, economic, and cultural topics. The opening session of the conference featured several speakers, including André Parant, French Ambassador to Egypt; Mahmoud al-Qaisi, Head of the French Chamber of Trade and Industry; and Sameh Shoukry, Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs. Dr. Ismail Serageldin, Director of the BA, also deliver a lecture titled “The Saga of Egypt and France: Two Centuries of Fruitful Interactions”.
Other speakers at the conference included Ahmed Darwish, Chairman of the General Authority for the Suez Canal Economic Zone; Khaled El-Enany, Minister of Antiquities; Amr Moussa, former General Secretary of the Arab League of States and former Minister of Foreign Affairs; Mounir Abdel-Nour, former Minister of Trade and Industry; novelist Ibrahim Abdel Meguid; Nabil Haglawy, Consul General of France in Alexandria; and Professor Albert Lourde, Dean of Senghor University in Alexandria.
Two exhibitions are held alongside the conference, “Alexandria Tram” and “Portraits of French Antiquities in Egypt”. The Paris-Cairo Trio are presenting a concert under the title “Best French Songs”.
For the third consecutive year, the CAF is holding the Francophone Professions Festival alongside the conference, with France as honorary guest. The festival is organised in cooperation with the Embassies of Switzerland and Côte d’Ivoire, and it will be inaugurated on 16 October 2016. Various heritage products representing Francophone culture will be sold during the festival, along with popular foods from the participating countries.

Watani International
18 October 2016

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