Diplomatic briefs

31-05-2013 08:55 PM

Mary Fikry - Antoun Milad

To mark Coptic Easter last May, the Italian Institute of Culture in Cairo held a presentation of the book In the Name of the Son. by Vittorio Sgarbi, published by Simon and Schuster, and a concert by Russian opera singer Anna Galushchenko.

The volume traces the milestones of the history of art through the most significant representations of Christ by Mantegna to Antonello da Messina, by Guido Reni in Grunewald, with references also to contemporaneity. 
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Swedish fashion show 
The fruit of the work of recycling workshops that collaborate with local fashion designers to produce fashion products were on exhibit in Cairo’s Darb 1718 culture centre. From 29 April to 29 May, to the tunes of jazz musician Ahmed Rabie, the Recycled Fashion Project showcased the works of 10 local artists to the public. 
Swedish experts helped spark in Egyptian designers new concepts in fashion, which they carried out in their designs on display at the exhibition. “Garments, items and installations are used to express and question identity, androgyny, consumerism and waste. Experimenting with forms and focusing on the stories, memories and history connected to the items, each one-of-a-kind piece celebrates and commemorates the life events, relationships and passions of those who made it, wore it, or tore it apart,” the press release describes. Last November, Swedish fashionistas held the workshop Make and Remake Fashion & Gender, inspiring Egyptian designers to create pieces which raise questions about gender and identity using recycled materials. 
Queen’s Day 
The Embassy of the Netherlands in Egypt celebrated on 30 April the Queen’s Day (National Day). At hand to offer their good wishes were Egyptian officials, public figures, and the diplomatic community. This year, the Queen’s Day carried a very special implication, since Her Majesty Queen Beatrix abdicated the previous day in favour of her son HRH Prince Willem-Alexander, who now is the first King of the Netherlands since 1890. King Willem Alexander is the new The Netherlands head of State, and his birthday, 27 April, will be the date of the Dutch national day from 2014 onward. 
The national day was also special this year because 200 years ago, in 1813, the Kingdom of the Netherlands was founded when the first Dutch King, Willem The First, acceded to throne. The country at that time had just been liberated, and the Netherlands began its journey as a modern kingdom. The ambassador of the Netherlands to Cairo, Mr Gerard Steeghs, reflected on this year’s celebration saying: “on this historic day for the Netherlands, I would like to take a closer look at the political developments during the first decades of our Kingdom.” He argued that after the Netherlands was founded in 1813, it was struggling with the concepts of constitution and State, much as Egypt after the 2011 revolution.
“Looking at our first constitution, adopted in 1815, you cannot really call it completely democratic; it gave extensive rights to the king and considerably less to his people.” However, he pointed out that the Dutch constitution did grant freedom to citizens to practice whatever religion they adhered to and it prohibited discrimination based on religion, “a fundamental trait of Dutch society since the early days of our independence under the Dutch Republic of the 16th century.”
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Merging blinds in society
With the aim of integrating blind individuals in the community, the Spanish embassy in Cairo and the Cervates Institute, in collaboration with Egypt’s al-Nour wal-Amal (Light and Hope) Association, have launched a new project. The idea occurred when Cervantes organised a free course for eight blind students from the Spanish department at Faculty of Alsun, Ain Shams University, which gained a support of La ONCE. The project details were elaborated in a celebration held in Cairo last 30 April by Eduardo Calvo García, the Cervantes manager. 
On 1 May, al-Nour wal-Amal band captivated the audience at the Cairo Opera House, with a concert in collaboration with Spanish musicians: flautist Alvaro Marias and pianist Blanco Calvo. Al-Nour wal-Amal band includes 43 blind female musicians, among whom five are visually impaired and can only see shadows. Their age ranges from 11 to 40, covering several generations of young musicians. The band travels around the world and has performed in over 20 countries. 
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Dahshur handcrafts fair
As a fruit of a five-year project of promoting Dahshur launched in 2009, a new fair of handicrafts was held in Cairo and Siwa art galleries late last month under supervision of UNIDO. Handmade crafts included wooden works: tables, chairs and benches made of halfa plants and palm tree, as well as garments. The project mainly targeted 400 Dahshur residents, 80 per cent of whom are women, and trained them on how to utilise the natural resources the town is rich with. The Joint Progamme aims to ensure the sustainable development of the Dahshur component of the World Heritage.
Watani International
31 May 2013
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