<![CDATA[rss-Magazine]]> All Rights Reserved for The Cairo post <![CDATA[Magazine]]>]]> 100 29 <![CDATA[Basma: Coming of Age]]>
Egypt Today chats with the actress and filmmaker about her views on women’s cinema, her own role choices and why she’s optimistic about the local cinema industry is reaching a mature stage.

1-You’ve made a strong comeback on screen. Did you intend to focus on cinema more?

This year I’m hoping to reap the fruits of efforts exerted in the previous two years. I started 2020 with Ras ElSana, followed by Certified Mail and my third movie will be Mako. I hope that people re-evaluate me based on this work. I am confident that I am entering into a new stage on the professional, social and human level. I think the screening of these movies will make the audience and the filmmakers view me from different perspective, especially since I had been away from the field for a some time because of personal reasons. It was not planned that I focus more on cinema, but I was offered good roles in cinema and I found that they would add to me. But even if I am going to act in the reception of my house, I love acting and enjoy doing it. I love the fact that I give each character I perform part of me and take part of her, and that makes me more mature.

2-Now that you’re back, do you see any changes in the field?

Of course, some matters have changed and there were certain things that I forgot but it didn’t take long time to get back on track again. My character has changed a lot, I
gained more experience and became more mature, which I hope will have a positive impact on my performance as an actress.

3-What criteria do you follow when choosing your roles and which role has been the most satisfying for you?

My criteria is always the same, I choose the role through which I feel I can present something different or that satisfies the acting hunger inside me, and where I fit in with the rest of the cast. Every role I performed satisfied part of my acting hunger. The actor is continuously hungry for acting, craving to explore more characters and gain
more experiences.

4-You once said that you only choose to take part in films that have a certain message.

I didn’t mean by that declaration that the project must contain a sophisticated or complicated message. Let me correct this misconception, because entertaining
the audience is a message in itself. It’s one of the most important messages of drama and cinema, because art is one of the most powerful entertainment tools.

5-Tell us more about Rania, your character in Ras ElSana. What’s the message behind this movie?

Rania is a woman who is negatively affected by what she hears, even if it is not based on real information and without bothering herself to verify its authenticity. Despite this, we find that she refuses to be judged by anyone. Ras El-Sana discusses the issues of double standards and its message is that we shouldn’t judge others based on rumors but judge based on actions, situations and facts.

6-Certified Mail participated in the latest edition of Aswan Woman International Film Festival. Do you think we have a shortage in movies tackling women’s

Yes and no at the same time. In the past years I’ve seen a number of movies discussing women’s issues, more than in previous years, which is a good indicator for female filmmakers specifically. Women around the world are not just wives, mothers and lovers; they have major contributions in life and it is important to highlight these contributions in cinema and on TV. Certified Mail tells the story of a woman who suffers from postpartum depression, which is one of the topics that we’ve never addressed because we are not sufficiently aware of it. That’s why I was keen to be present this character.

7-We’ve also witnessed the rise of women’s cinema terminology, how do you evaluate the status of women’s cinema today?

I think this terminology is related to the desire to shed light on everything related to women in our Arab societies, as they tend to be masculine, but in general I support the cinema of humans whether male or female. The Egyptian cinema industry has definitely changed a lot, the movies that are presented now make me feel optimistic about the industry—we are witnessing a stage of maturity in terms of the selection of the topics discussed, the script treatment and the image quality. It is an inevitable change related to human change development; everyone changes, grow olds and matures.

8-Most of the scenes of your upcoming movie Mako are underwater and we know that you have a fear of open water. How did you manage to overcome your fear and pull off your scenes?

I put a lot of effort into this movie, at the beginning I suffered from phobias but thank God with the support of my colleagues, whether the actors or the director, I managed to do it. The credit also goes to my diving coaches, all of them helped me a lot to overcome my
fears, dive and perform underwater. I’ve always wanted to learn a new skill to use in my work. I have high expectations for this movie because it contains graphics that were executed using the latest techniques, and it will open the door for a new type of movies in Egyptian cinema that have never been presented before.

9-Digital platforms like Watch iT and Shahid are also quite new to the Egyptian filmmaking scene. Would you consider working with them?

Of course. If the project is suitable it will add something to me and enhance my capabilities; the whole world is now moving toward digital platforms.

10-Are you open to criticism?

Definitely yes, because I truly believe in the proverb that says, “Were it not for the different tastes, the goods would have not been sold.” If all audiences loved me and
admired my performance I’d be so arrogant; of course some admire my acting performance and others don’t. What I care about is constructive criticism that helps
me to improve myself, the criticism that is based on facts. This type I truly respect and learn from, not the destructive criticism which is criticism for the sake of criticism.

11-What’s your dream role?

I don’t have a certain character in mind, but I do want to play a villain. I’d also love to take part in a period drama because it would give me the opportunity to wear the fashion of ancient times and see what it was like living in a different era.
4/10/2020 8:22:19 PM
<![CDATA[Let’s Talk With Marianne Khoury]]>
Let’s Talk is a unique visual and humane insight into the lives of four women from four different generations in the family of the late director Youssef Chahine, Khoury’s uncle.
The award-winning director also manages to draw the link between cinema and life, by
approaching the topic through a conversation between herself as a cinematic mother and her daughter Sara, who is studying filmmaking in Cuba.

They each explore the difficulties and pleasures of life through a series of archive footage that featuring both members of the family as they appear in Chahine’s autobiographical films and the family’s ladies in real life. Egypt Today sits down with Khoury to talk about her unique movie and chat about her vision and plans for the future.

1- You once said Let’s Talk took more than nine years of preparations. Why? Tell us more about the idea behind the movie and its making.

It has taken even longer than nine years. The idea is that throughout my life I was having all the conversations in Let’s Talk, but I was never aware of it. Let’s Talk is based on a huge family archive, it contains a large number of intimate, personal and family moments. I always have the need to record these moments and scenes, moments with my daughter, while I am giving birth, birthdays, Christmas celebrations and marriage anniversaries, I have a strong relationship with the archive. My grandmother used to keep our family archive, and after my mom died I was keen to look after it. I started digitizing the photos to preserve them and I used some in the movie. I love to record certain situations, in 2004 I recorded my conversations with my uncle, the late great
director Youssef Chahine. I also recorded my conversations with my aunt and with different generations from my family. I’d always known that I wanted to make a movie about my mother with this archive, but I wasn’t able to do it psychologically because
the grief I felt over my mother’s loss was too deep. At that time, I was pregnant so I felt the true meaning of life and death at the same time. It was very tough for me and for a long time I lived in a state of denial, refusing to believe that my mother has died. My daughter pushed me to go through my family archive when she started to ask the questions you saw in Let’s Talk. My relationship with my daughter is the same as it appears in the movie, we are friends who discuss a lot of things with each other. Most of the conversation in the movie took place over a single day in France. We switched on the camera and started talking spontaneously, and it was only after we’d finished talking on that day that I felt I had a movie. Psychologically, I hadn’t been able to do this for many years until I talked with my daughter on that day.

2-As a family, how do you describe your relationship with the camera?

Our relationship as a family with the camera is very strong, we use the camera in most of our moments, gatherings and celebrations like in Christmas. Chahine shot with my wedding with the camera, he recorded some of his conversations with his mom on cassette tapes before Alexandria . . . Why? and when he learned that I wanted to make a movie about my mom he gave me this archive. At first my uncle didn’t see me as a director. I’ve been working in the film industry for the past 40 years, mainly as
a producer. Twenty years ago, when the small cameras appeared I was at the Cannes International Film Festival with Chahine, and I watched the movie The Idiot which was shot with a small camera. I used to fear big cameras because I didn’t study cinema, so the small cameras gave me the freedom to shoot what I wanted. Then I directed a short movie at that time, and Chahine said, “Oh girl, you managed to bring all the emotions out!”

3-Who was Youssef Chahine to you? A father, uncle, friend, professor or boss?

He was everything all in one person, all the emotions in one man. I used to fear him, and at the same time I loved and respected him. He gave me kindness and support, we used to discuss everythin. My father died when I was 20, at that time I got very close to my uncle as I started working with him.

4-If he were alive now, what would he think of Let’s Talk?

I feel he would have loved it very much, because the thing that I am happy with the most in this film is that I managed to have an effect on people. The audience who watched
the movie didn’t see it with their eyes only, Let’s Talk found its way into their hearts; they laughed, cried and were influenced by the movie. This was very important to me because people always think that documentaries are so boring, dull and educational.
In Let’s Talk, instead of casting actors I made my family perform their real roles so it became more credible and real. I am happy that I succeeded in creating this mood, that’s why I was over the moon with the audience award that I received from Cairo International Film Festival; I didn’t expect that the film would be so popular with audiences. Before the filmrelease in cinemas in mid-January 15, I gave talks about it
in universities and clubs to encourage people to come and watch the movie, because I knew they would like it.

5- Let’s Talk does have the feel or a reality TV show. Was that intentional? How do you see this contributed to the movie’s success?

I didn’t intend to add this touch but it was made spontaneously, because we weren’t acting in the documentary we appeared in our real characters, showing our true feelings
and emotions. I shot every family Christmas celebration and my daughter, who is currently studying cinema directing in Cuba, is now doing the same, shooting videos of me and her father. When I shot with Chahine, I would leave the camera running in the office and we used to chat together a lot, so I shot hours with him. The most difficult part of Let’s Talk was the editing process, because I had to choose which incidents I wanted to narrate. If you come to my office, you will see the movie on the wall in the form of cards.

6-How do you see the difference between the four generations in the documentary? Is there a huge gap between them? What do they have in common?

There is a gap between the generations, and at the same time, you will feel that they complete each other. People noticed that my daughter has a very startling resemblance to my mom—her grandmother—who died before she was born. There is a great similarity between them, even though they didn’t see each other, even in the soul. Also, my voice is similar to that of my grandmother.

Documentaries usually don’t attract audiences’ attention and therefore don’t achieve much commercial success, yet Let’s Talk won the audience award at the Cairo International Film Festival and was also the only Egyptian movie participating in the international competition. What made it appeal so much to the audience?

I meant to make a movie that records the daily life of a normal Egyptian family so each one could relate to his or her family. The film houses the stories of more than one generation, so both youth and older people related to it. It appealed to my mother’s generation, my generation, my daughter’s generation and even the generation younger than my daughter saw themselves in Let’s Talk.

7-You studied political science and economics at AUC, and then finished a master’s in economics at Oxford University. To what extent has a background in economics helped you in your career as the producer behind several successful projects?

My economics background definitely helped me as a producer, and I didn’t know at the beginning of my career that it would help me that much. Cinema is a big world full of details, the first job for me in the cinema industry was executive producer with Chahine. I started working and exploring this new world; I learned how to translate the script into numbers, the true meaning of scenes and images. My business studies was the base I started from, it was the theoretical background that helped me to understand the practical world of cinema.

8-You directed a number of successful documentaries. Do you have plans to direct feature movies in the future?

People close to me always ask when I will work on a feature movie—they don’t know that I just don’t relate to feature movies. I’d rather do a documentary with a feature flavor or the opposite. The type of the movie is not important to me, the most important thing is the content, the story and what I am going to narrate and how I will narrate it. Whether it’s in the form of feature or documentary is not the main issue, that’s why I omitted the word documentary from the movie campaign. We wrote a film and people view it as a movie, not as a documentary. Even the Cairo International Film Festival didn’t view it as a documentary, and that’s why it competed in the international competition of the festival as the only Egyptian movie.

9- What are your upcoming projects?

My future project is not to work on another movie but to develop the way movies are being executed. I want to help in that, I have a lot of friends who have projects similar to this one and I can understand the obstacles they are facing. The procedures of executing a movie like Let’s Talk are very difficult, it may seem easy but it’s not because there are a lot of preparations on the side and there is a special technique you have to follow in terms of image, script and editing. I spent a year in the process of subtitling the movie because it was translated into four languages. I believe that these types of movies will be a major leap in the Egyptian cinema industry.]]>
4/10/2020 8:04:28 PM
<![CDATA[A Fun Ride]]>CAIRO - 5 April 2020: American actress Rosie Perez stunned us as usual with a brilliant performance in the newly released superhero movie Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). She speaks to Egypt Today about her experience with the movie from the stunt trainings to the great bonding that went on behind the scenes, and especially how she found herself in Renee Montoya.

1- What drew you to this project?

Outside of the badass-ness of it all, the women kicking ass, and it being on a level of a real action-packed project, it was the message of emancipation. I thought that was really strong; so that’s why I really wanted to be part of it.

2- Are you a fan of comic books?

I was a fan of comic books from day one, all the way back to Archie. But I was specifically a big, big fan of Batman and Wonder Woman. In regard to the Birds of Prey, I really didn’t know as much [about it], but I did know about Detective Renee Montoya, specifically because of Batman.

3-Tell us about Renee. What drew you to her specifically?

Well, the thing that I always connected with —even prior to this project— was that what’s right is right, and that she was always fighting for justice. In my personal life, I’m always
fighting for justice. And the difference between Renee Montoya and myself, the big difference, I would say, is that there’s not a lot of grey area with her. What’s fascinating about this project is that she allows the grey area to come into play when she decides to team up with anti-heroes, specifically Harley Quinn.

4-Because, as a cop, she is very familiar with who Harley is?

Yes, she is, so it’s a big surprise, even to Renee. And for comedic effect it was, you know, “Who’s in?” and Renee Montoya goes, “With you?”. But she understands how fierce and strong and fearless Harley Quinn is as well. And I think that even though
originally Renee Montoya was intended to be much younger than I am, my delivery of that line, at my age, actually worked even better because when you get older you understand there are grey areas in life; and that you have to work with it.

5-And she’s no rookie, she has fought for a long time within the ranks!

Yes. And that’s what I love about her. I remember, even when I first thought of getting into the entertainment business, I said initially, ‘How come there aren’t enough roles for people of colour? Why is it so seemingly racist and sexist?’ And I remember way back when, in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, everyone was telling me to shut up. And I said no, I will not. ‘Well, it’s going to hurt your career,’ [I was often told]. I would say ‘So what? What’s right is right’. And it’s funny. Then, 30+ years later, they’ve all come around. Now everybody says it. So I immediately connected with Renee Montoya. She’s in a job where she’s so easily dismissed and laughed at because of her high moral code and discredited and discounted for her ability to do her job well; and she’s probably one of the most intelligent people on the force. But because of her gender, that is not acknowledged, appreciated or rewarded.

6-You see from the early scenes with her that she views a crime scene differently from the others, that she’s got a certain wayof taking it all in, but that none of the cops around her want to acknowledge her gift. Is that true?

Exactly. Yes, because what I played underneath it was, “Shut up! Let me do my job!”. And I know a lot of people will relate to that. Just shut up, move out of my way and let me do my job. I know what I’m doing. A lot of people want to say it indeed, but they can’t. Perhaps through her they can have that moment. They can have that. They can live vicariously through her, through her boldness and through her tenacity and also through her hurt and pain when she is dismissed. And I know as a woman it drives you crazy when you know you’re right, and no one will listen to you. It’s insanity!

7-Being a cop is a hard enough job and it’s only made harder by all of those other things. On top of that, isn’t she sort of alone on an island there, trying hard just to get through a day?

Yes. And to do well. And she finally finds the courage, being inspired much to her surprise by Harley Quinn and the other women to say, ‘You know what? It’s fine. Okay. Gotham PD doesn’t want me anymore. Fine. I’m going vigilante. I’m still going to fight for justice. I’m still going to go after the bad guys, and I’m still going to do what is right for the citizens of Gotham.’ I think that’s so admirable.

8-There’s so much action in the film. What kind of physical training, weapons training, stunt training and so forth did you do and how was it for you? Was it exciting, was it exhausting, empowering?

It was all the above. It was very very hard for me. Prior to going into production I really tried to get back in shape. As a former dancer/choreographer and also a martial arts student, my body has been through the wringer. I’ve had so many fractures, broken
bones, pulled muscles, torn ligaments, meniscus disc tear on a knee, a broken neck, so when I got this job I said ‘Oh my gosh, what am I going to do?’ And I said ‘you know what? I’m just going to do it,’ and I was so excited about working with 87 eleven; and their expertise got me through, they really know what they’re doing. I never thought I could be as strong as I am today, and it was so empowering. I remember one time in training I just started crying, and everyone was like, ‘Are you okay? What’s wrong? You’re tired? You got hurt?’ And I said, ‘No, I’m kicking ass!’ I never thought I could do this again, you know. I haven’t studied Kung Fu in 20 years because of all of my injuries, and I thought oh well, I’m middle-aged, that’s it.

9- Who would have thought stunt training for a superhero-type movie would be so physically healing?

Physically healing because we were in the hands of experts. I always admired them and their past work, but I had no idea that they were such a well-rounded, fully encompassing fight coordination company, because it’s not just learning the choreography, it’s being in good health; and they assure you of that. And they did it, and my stunt double, too, she was also extremely capable and very, very kind. But I told my husband after filming, I said, ‘If anything, I know this film is going to entertain, I know people are going to have a good time. But I never saw it as me, being a woman of a certain age, who would also be given a gift in doing this movie, given the chance to tell every woman of my age range and older: Don’t give up! Your body can still do it. Get back into the gym or go swimming or go for a walk or do this or do that. Push your body forward. I am proof that it can happen.’ And he looked at me and said, ‘Are you gonna cry?’ And I just started laughing. And I just said, ‘They are tears of joy and appreciation.’
Who would have ever thought that a movie project would have done this for me?

10-You really have great chemistry together, all of you, on-screen.

Oh, thank you. And it was off-screen too. Though they blamed me a lot for the partying aspect! But I remember telling them, I said, ‘You know, if you don’t know it already, I’m going to tell you something. You have to enjoy the process while the process is ongoing. You have to find the fun because moments like this,m all of us hanging out in my trailer and having drinks after work is going to stick with you, and you’re going to appreciate the project even more.’

11-The friendship, the bonding?

The bonding, yes. Because I told them, I said, ‘Not all actors do this. Not all projects offer this camaraderie. Usually after takes we go back into our trailers or say goodnight, hug and kiss and say, ‘Oh, this was great, we bonded. No! This is what bonding is.’ And even on our time off, Jurnee and Mary Elizabeth, we hung out a lot. Margot couldn’t always join us because she was so busy as a producer, but every single time she goes, ‘I’m going to try to be there,’ so she was pretty fantastic in that sense.

12- Since you mention it, how was working with Margot Robbie as a producer as well as cast-mate?

Margot as a boss was beyond impressive. Beyond impressive, how she never made you feel less than [her], she never made you feel like, ‘I’m the boss and that’s it.’ She was always accessible. She always had an answer, even if it was ‘I don’t know yet, I will find that out for you.’ And she would come back with the answer that you needed. And she was very, very clear in regard to where we needed to be within the script, and also just being able to pick up the phone after work and talk to her. It was fantastic.

13-A boss who’s literally going through the trenches with you in every respect?

Yes, and still being a leader. You know, being one of the foot soldiers and yet still being the general in charge. It was impressive.

14-What do you want audiences to experience when they see the film?

Fun. Fun, fun, fun. Get in your seats, buckle up, and enjoy the
ride. That’s what I’m hoping for them.]]>
4/5/2020 3:51:53 PM
<![CDATA[Behind the scenes with Cassandra Cain]]>and delivering an impressive mix of 90s crime thrillers and 21st century superhero films.

Ella Jay Basco plays pickpocket Cassandra Cain, who, steals a diamond that everyone wants to get their hands on. Suddenly, she has a bounty on her,head and all the superheroines in the movie work together to save her.

We chat with the young actress about her role in the movie and how she prepared for it; and she also gave us some glimpses from behind the scenes.

What do you like most about Cassandra Cain’s role?

When I first read the script, Cassandra Cain was such an interesting character. She was so colorful and so independent and someone that I couldn’t really relate to, which was so interesting to me, because she lives on the streets and she doesn’t really have
anyone or anything, so to play that was super intriguing for me.

Do you see that kind of character often in scripts you read?
I really don’t. She’s jumping around from foster care to foster care. She’s not the best child. She’s pretty sneaky. And she’s just trying to survive in Gotham. So it was cool to represent [her]. Cass really takes Harley (played by Margot Robbie) as a role model because that’s really the only thing she has. And she wants to be Harley, she wants to act and dress and walk like Harley and pretty much be her assistant, until she can be her. Harley is the main goal for her.

How did you go about nailing Cass’s look?

It’s super scrappy. The cast she wears on her arm, that’s probably my favorite part because the director gave me three neon pink casts, and she gave me a bunch of sharpies and just said,“Go crazy”. So, all of what is written on it is actually what I drew
on the cast. All of the art is what I did. And I just wrote a bunch of bad words and the word Gotham, and things like that. That’s obviously my favorite part of the costume. And these Jordans, she can’t afford these sneakers, so, you know, she probably didn’t buy them, and everything else I think she just found off of the street or tried to use extra money she found for it.

What was it like working with the rest of the cast?

They’re great mentors. They taught me how to build relationships and work with people, and [do] different acting exercises. They were honestly like big sisters to me. They always took care of me and we loved hanging out with each other.

What was it like working with Margot Robbie who plays Harley Quinn And is also a producer on the movie?

I think it’s honestly super inspiring, and it makes you want to push yourself more because you think about it and you’re like, ‘Oh, Margot, she already has so much on her plate as an actor and playing this character of Harley Quinn. And on top of that she’s being a producer and going around meetings and doing all of this stuff.’ So it makes you feel like you want to step up your game, because she’s already such an amazing actress and person in general. And she was such a great resource, too, she knew all
the little details, which was great for me, working alongside her for so much of the movie.

Tell us about your experience with director Cathy Yan.

I’m just so lucky because Cathy was super open to everything. We really wanted to figure out who Cassandra Cain was and what her story was, and she helped me develop that character. I just love her. She’s so loving and kind and caring. Cassandra Cain is an important character in the DC canon.

Did you read the comics or do any research like that?

I do read comics. When I found out that I booked this movie,through all of them, studying. And one that really interested me was the original story of Cassandra Cain and how she lives on the streets and how she gets taken in by Batman and Barbara
Gordon; and that was super interesting for me. But I love comics. They are so interesting, so complex, and there’s such a culture about comics that’s really intriguing. I had this one teacher in fourth grade with whom we read comics every Wednesday in

What did you think of the sets of the movie? Did they bring some of those comic book visuals that you read in your research to life?

K.K Barrett, the production designer, he did an amazing job. It definitely felt like a fantasy; it was so colorful and bright. It brought what I read in the comic books to life.

Did having those visuals in mind inform your acting?

In the comic books, I definitely saw emotion in how vulnerable Cass is, because sometimes when you just read stuff you never really know what they actually look like. You may know how they feel, from their perspective, but never know what they
look like, or like the physicality of what they do, which was super helpful and really interesting, seeing the differences and the similarities. And that honestly really helped because she is just a kid. She doesn’t really know anything; and yet, she pretends she
does, and she puts on this proverbial mask and pretends that she’s independent and that she can handle herself.

What message do you want to send millennials through this

I want them to understand how much this meant to me, [working] with a diverse cast and in a diverse film, and also being empowered as a female. I definitely want them to understand how much that theme meant throughout the movie; and probably how much work we all put into it, because all the women had about five months of training in order to get that good, which is such a short amount of time.

Rosie Perez has talked about the moments on set where she felt such joy because she felt so empowered, especially in the fight scenes. How did it feel to be part of these action scenes?

That was pretty crazy. I’ve been swung around so much, it’s just so fun to be swung around by a bunch of women and big stuntmen. And it sure was interesting just watching all of the women fight. That was so amazing and cool. I was a fan myself, a
total fan-girl, seeing that live right in front of me.

Did you do any kind of stunt training?

Yes. I worked with my amazing stunt double, and also did some other training... We had a magician come in and he taught me how to pick pockets and how to flip a coin and make stuff disappear, which was super fun.

Are you still practicing? So you can amaze your family and friends?

Now I know how to roll a coin smoothly on my hand, which is cool. You never know when you need to show off a little at a party.

4/1/2020 11:01:21 PM
<![CDATA[The Superhero]]>
I couldn’t have been more wrong—by the end of the brief interview I discovered that the secret of Karara’s success lies in that he has a lot in common with his onscreen persona. I sat down with him for a behind-the-scene chat with Karara about the hit series, his latest movie Casablanca and the secrets of his success.

1- What was the different thing in Kalabsh 3 .that wasn't in the previous two parts

We’ve taken Kalabsh 3 on a completely different path than that of the other two. Part 1’s main theme was that Selim El-Ansary was subjected to injustice, he was fired from his job and was forced to go on the run most of the time. In part 2 we played on the revenge theme because they killed his wife and sister. In part 3 we will play on the
exploitation theme as they want to pressure him into performing illegal actions, so they poisoned his son, pestering him to resign from the Ministry of Interior so he could harm Egypt. The thing about Kalabsh is that it has become a brand. There are different actors and actresses in each season—only the veteran actress Hala Fakher is in all the
parts—to pump in new blood so that the audience doesn’t get bored. Every part features a new story as if you are watching a new series; we only take Selim El-Ansary and insert him in a new story. Kalabsh 3 features a notable cast including Hisham Selim, Ahmed Abdelaziz, Ahmed el Awady and Yousra el Louzy among others. We have a large number of stars who will appear in a new way in this season which is more
drama than action.

2- Do you prefer long-running series?

I am if all the seasons are successful,but I am against it if the drama cannot be carried across different seasons. It is not wrong to exploit the success of a series, we did that in Kalabsh, but the point is how to exploit that success and while not harming the show. We preserved Kalabsh’s success, developed and grew it. If we reach a point where we are at just the same level of success we will not move on with a new part. We want each part to be more successful than the previous one. Internationally there are very successful multiple-part series like Game of Thrones that millions around the world watch. As long as you are doing well and the audience are amused while watching your series, then by all means perform more parts.

3- Are there plans for Kalabsh 4 next year?

There is another plan for Kalbesh , but I don’t have the right to reveal it now, but it will be something very innovative.

4- Why has Selim El-Ansary’s character become so popular? Is the audience looking for a hero or role model to gather around?

That’s a good theory (he laughs), but frankly speaking I don’t know, I swear I don’t know, I am amazed by the huge success. When I meet people I am astonished at how people see Selim El-Ansary, people truly love him from the bottom of their hearts. He is one of them, they sympathize with him and see that he is a true gentleman who is
ready to help others. It’s very rare that the main character in a series succeeds more than the series itself; Selim ElAnsary is more famous than Kalabsh! He’s even become
popular among kids who think I am not a real person, they think I am a legendary character like The Avengers (he laughs). Even when El-Ansary is shot and doesn’t die,
they accept that fact and don’t see any kind of exaggeration, because they don’t want him to die. From their point of view Selim El-Ansary can’t die . . . he has to live forever
like the superheroes.

5-Did the Ministry of Interior interfere in the plot?

The Ministry of Interior didn’t interfere in the series, because the series is not a purely detective one. It tells the story of a police officer and goes into his personal life,
and it doesn’t contain any politically sensitive incidents. The Ministry of Interior supported us, for example we ask for their opinion pertaining to the kinds of weapons used in the series, they provided us with information about the transfers inside the
ministry. The ministry was very cooperative and gave us all the general data we needed to ensure the series’ credibility. The Ministry of Interior really admire the series because Kalabsh highlights the true image of the good and honest police officer. Some people regard police officers as people who abuse their powers, but this is totally both unfair and wrong because a police officer’s job is like all other profession—there are good people and bad ones. Unfortunately, before Kalabsh much of the drama portrayed police officers as corrupt. I didn’t like that, because they are our Egyptian security forces who protect us, so we should shed light on good examples, not just focus on bad examples. That’s what we did in Kalabsh 1; we have Selim El-Ansary and on the other hand we have a corrupt police officer and constable, so we didn’t say that they are all good, we were objective and presented both good and bad examples. The promo of Casablanca amassed 1 million views within three hours of its release, a record in the history of Egyptian cinema. Tell us more about Casablanca experience.

In all honesty I’m really not sure. The promo is really well executed, but all the huge success was unexplainable for me. I told Casablanca’s director, the great talented Peter Mimi, that I didn’t think the promo got all these views because we are clever, but because we are kind, I swear.

6-More likely your popularity and charisma?

Charisma is a gift from God, but not just my charisma, it is all the cast’s charisma—the director, the scriptwriter, the director of photography, the producer and the rest of the
cast. Yesterday I checked the comments people left below the promo, I really thanked God because I didn’t see even a single negative comment, most people expected Casablanca to be a great movie and said they would watch it. Casablanca is a different type of action movie because it is shot across different cities such as Marrakech, Casablanca, Safaga and Alexandria, so you will see different pictures on screen. You will see some Alexandrian men that you will fall in love with despite them being pirates as they have a touch of humanity. The hero wants to free his kidnapped brother, and together they form a totally different and new composition. The movie also has a light comedy line. When the audience saw the promo they said that Casablanca doesn’t look like normal Egyptian movies, because it was executed with the latest cinematic techniques. The whole cast exerted great effort in this movie to get this result.

7-In Harb Karmooz, Casablanca and also Taht El-Ard (Underground) you worked with acclaimed international actors like Scott Adkins (aka Boyka), Halit Ergenc and Songul Oden. Tell us more about your experience working with these international actors. Do you feel such participation enriches the works?

Definitely. This kind of cooperation enriches the movie or the series because when you watch and see a group of stars performing together you become excited to watch,
then why don’t we open the door for such fruitful cooperation? For example we become so proud if one of our filmmakers participated in an international movie, we are happy to see an Egyptian working in the international cinema industry, then what is the problem to invite these stars here to work with us in our Egyptian cinema? Boyka is worldwide action star with a great repertoire. In his latest film he worked with Silvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jet Lee—when a big star like that comes to work with you in your movie as a guest, this means that you are doing well and that we are big, and that Egyptian cinema is really great. Halit Ergenc is one of the best actors that I have worked with in my entire life, he is a wonderful, respectable and cooperative actor, he loves the cast and the movie, really an exceptional artist, I really enjoyed working with him. We chose Ergenc also because of his wide popularity, Egyptian audiences admire Ergenc because of his great role performing Sultan Suleiman in the successful Turkish series Hareem El-Sultan (The Sultan’s Harem), so when people saw us together in the Casablanca promo they were excited to watch the movie.

It was the same with Songul Oden in Taht El-Ard. She became very popular in the Egyptian and the Arab world after playing Nour role the successful Turkish series bearing the same name. I love this kind of cooperation because it adds glow to the movie or the series plus I am not a oneman-show actor. I love to work with big names and stars, I don’t insist on being the main star of the show, I just want to present good movies and series that people love and at the end they say who was the best and who was the star.

8- Some see that the role of TV or cinema is to portray reality as it is, with all its negative aspects; others argue that drama should provide audiences with principles, role models and positive example—much like Selim El-Ansary in Kalabsh. Which do you believe is the real purpose?

There was a time when cinema focused only on the bullying, drugs, rape, sexual harassment and slums. It provided the audience with a concentrated dose of all these negative aspects of society and that was a problem. If we were presenting both types in a balanced way we wouldn’t have such a problem, because cinema or TV drama means diversity, mirror society and so should convey both the good and the bad, not only in separate movies or series but in the same work. We should have both good and bad examples, like Kalabsh as I stated earlier. I personally have never watched any of these movies that tackled purely all the negative aspects, because I don’t like this school of cinema. I like a movie that I can watch with my wife and kids, why should my kids see movies that tackle only negativities? Harb Karmooz was a respectable movie that people of all ages enjoyed watching. It didn’t have any cheap scenes and carried
a good message. Casablanca is the same. We made Casablanca following international standards, so much so that everyone felt from the promo that it was a Hollywood movie. We were keen to shoot in many cities to provide the audience with good and diverse scenes, we’re talking about four pirates who stole a car from the port, but you will see also that they were punished, one of them was jailed, the other’s brother was kidnapped. Yet despite being criminals they have good characteristics, so the world is not always black. My exact answer to your question is that during a certain period some movies conveyed all our negativities without providing a single good example, but if we highlight the good examples and present beside them the bad ones—but without exaggeration—then this will be the exact role of cinema and drama.

9-Do you believe there is good and bad in everything?

I am annoyed when just a bad side is presented. It’s OK to present a negative character but let’s also add a twist to this character to see how his/her problem or negativity will be solved—not decide that there’s no hop and that’s it. I am one of the millions of Egyptians who love this country, I get really annoyed if someone criticizes Egypt and the Egyptians, I get angry when we write negative things on facebook about ourselves and our country then people abroad read that we criticize and attack our country and our president, badmouthing and making fun of him, mocking our actors. This really is a
shame, what we write with our hands really disgraces us; we are supposed to refute all the bad things written about us not write them with our hands and blemish our reputation. I love to see the positive side of each story.

10-What type of movie or series do you enjoy working on the most?

I don’t have a favorite genre; if you watch Kalabsh you’ll find social, drama, action and light comedy lines. Casablanca is the same,you will see drama, action, suspense and comedy plots presented by Amr Abdel Gelil. I love to work in a comprehensive movie or series that contains everything, multiple plotlines, not a purely action movie without a comedy or social theme. Today at my current age and physical strength I can perform action movies, run, fight, but for example after 10 years I might not be able to perform such scenes so I may shift to romantic or social movies and series.

11-Which three words would you choose to describe Amir Karara

The first word is that Amir Karara is a father, spending my time with Selim, Laila and Nelly really is worth the world to me. I have to mention them with that order because Selim is the eldest and he gets angry if I didn’t mention him first (he laughs). The second adjective is ambitious, the third is patient. I had a dream and target that I worked hard to fulfil and I am satisfied with what I have achieved till now. I started from below the zero point, and gradually made good steps with God’s blessing. That’s why 99 percent of what I’ve achieved is God’s generosity and only one percent is my own planning.

12-What are your weak spots? What do you dislike about your character?

My kids, I am obsessed with them, they are literally my life, if you ask me to prioritize my life roles, I will say number one I am a father. What I dislike is that I am incapable of
thinking about myself or even looking at Amir and seeing what he wants for himself. I dedicate my whole life to my

work, wife, kids and people working with me. Amir always forgets himself, sometimes I want to take break, enjoy my success, be happy with what I have achieved or do something for myself, but find that I am incapable of doing this. Even when I go shopping I find myself always buying stuff for my kids instead of myself.

13-To what extent have your good looks helped your career?

I don’t see myself as handsome at all by the way (he laughs) but good looks can’t help an actor if he is not talented. The biggest stars in Egypt and the world are not handsome, it is all about the talent and the charisma.

14-In general what attracts you in women? What attracted you in your wife?

The woman for me is the supportive, strong, courteous one who stands behind her husband and helps him, the wife that pleases her husband and makes him happy so he can concentrate in his work, so that he can succeed and make her life and that of the kids a happy in return, so that he can secure a good future for them. It is a cycle and the
woman is the key to this cycle. What attracted me to Hend is that she has all of that.

15-How has stardom changed you?

It’s changed nothing in my character. Deep inside I am still that humble Egyptian guy, but it added responsibilities on my shoulders to work harder to please people and meet
their expectations.

16-Which roles have been milestones for you?

I’ll tell you something that I’ve never said before: Amir Karara’s career started with Kalabsh 1. I don’t remember anything before this series and I don’t want to remember.
What people don’t know is that I was about to stop acting before part one. I was depressed and frustrated and decided to leave this career and when I started working on it I said it might be the last series. But after only three episodes, Kalabsh was booming all over the Arab world. The credit goes to Synergy Company headed by the creative producer Tamer Mursi, the company manager Hossam Shawky, the artistic producer of Kalabsh, Casablanca and my upcoming movie Fathy Ismail, and definitely the director Peter Mimi. I’ve never dreamed of even a fraction of this success. People
in media circles told me before Kalabesh 1 that they were talking about Ramadan stars who would win the race and they never even mentioned me or Yasser Galal, but because of God’s will, Kalabesh and Zel El-Rais (The President’s Shadow) achieved booming success. I can say that my main milestones are the three parts of Kalabsh, Harb Karmooz and also Horoub Edterary (Forced Escape) with Ahmed

17-You formed a trio with famed producer Tamer Mursi and director Peter Mimi. Tell us more about the harmony between three of you.

We collaborated on the three parts of Kalabsh, Harb Karmooz and Casablanca. We know how to work with each other, there is a great harmony and chemistry between all
the cast members. Together we know how to make a good dramatic composition. This is the first time that we’re announcing that we are currently preparing for '' El Ekteyar'' series which is expected to be screened in Ramadan.
3/27/2020 2:45:01 PM
<![CDATA[Loving Leila ]]>talks about her most powerful roles that have inspired change and how being a mom has changed her outlook on both her personal life and professional career.


Lovingly known as the “kitten of Egyptian cinema” since starting her acting career as a child, acclaimed actress Laila Eloui is a paragon of beauty—both inside and out. As the face of our annual women’s issue and to mark Mother’s Day, Eloui opens up in this exclusive interview about her career as one of Egypt’s leading ladies, the status of women and her biggest role yet: being a mother. March marks both International Women’s Day as well as Mother’s Day.

1- To what extent do cinema and TV play a role in portraying women’s issues? Can these platforms actually help address societal problems, offer solutions or
even change mindsets?

Art definitely has a great effect on the society and plays a significant role in changing concepts and unifying thoughts on specific principles and issues. There are a number of movies in Egyptian cinema that tackled vital women issues and moved the public opinion toward certain societal problems including El-Moghtasboon (The Rapists) and the iconic Oreed Halan (I Want A Solution) staring the lady of Arab screen, the late great actress Faten Hamama and directed by veteran director Saeed Marzouk
which managed to make changes in the personal status law.

In the era of black and white movies, Egyptian cinema tackled the pain, sufferings and obstacles faced by working women at that time in movies such as Avocato Madiha (Lawyer Madiha) and women’s issues were addressed in several novels written by
the iconic Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz that were turned to movies. Nowadays acclaimed female filmmakers like Egyptian directors Hala Khalil and Kamla Abou
Zekry presented movies that discussed women’s issues and challenges across different social segments and even sometimes offered some solutions like in Youm Lel Setat (A Day for Women).

The role of cinema or drama is to reflect reality and highlight the problems, it doesn’t always have to offer solutions. The real value of art is to discuss issues and help us to find solutions to changing mindsets.

2-Many of your roles have promoted women’s empowerment. How do you feel about the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements sweeping the globe?

Of course we are against violating the rights of women and children in any form and the role of cinema is to raise awareness and shed light by discussing these issues. In El Moghtasboon, for example, I was proud to play the character of Safaa, which was based on a real victim. At the time late veteran director Saeed Marzouk presented a bold idea in an attempt to highlight a terrifying social phenomenon that horrified Egyptian society in particular and Arab society in general, after it became widespread. Renowned scriptwriter Faisal Nada drew attention to the social, economic and educational motivations of these rapists and the role that drugs and unemployment played.

Produced in the late 1980s, the film was bold enough to present an intense, real-life story, and the credit goes to Marzouk for managing to make the audience feel and interact with the movie’s dramatic scenes and achieve high revenues. The film’s credibility in portraying the victim’s character helped to change the final sentence on the perpetrators.

3- What is the most demanding role that you have played until now and which of your roles has touched or affected you the most? Do the roles you perform affect your real character? If yes, how do you manage to get rid of their effect?

All the roles that I embody leave a positive effect on me and enhance my experience and self-confidence. For example Khokha’s character in Kharag w Lam Ya’aod (Missing Person) made me feel the psychological serenity and kindness away from the hustle of the city. I consider Safaa in El Moghtasboon the character that affected me the most psychologically, and I felt victorious after the sentence was changed as a result
of the movie, as if I was Safaa. I was influenced as well by the determination, challenge and the insistence that exist in some characters like in Hala in Hala w El Mestakhaby (Hala and the Unknown) and Captain Effat which among the stories of the Hekayat w Benisha (Stories We Are Living) series. I always interact with the character I am performing, whether positively or negatively and this reflects on the audience’s acceptance of the role.

4-What is your dream role?

At present, I think a lot about the family bonding principles presented through our different series and movies. Some of these bonds were broken as a result of technology, we see now every member of the family is living in his own world apart from the other. The new generations now have their different personal freedom that sometimes makes them forget the meaning of love and compassion, so I’d like to embody the role of a mother who tries to strengthen the family bond. This idea requires a strong and smart script, I hope to find it. Also I want to play the role of the late famed poet May Ziadeh, I have a lot of dreams and ideas that I want to present, I have lots of feelings that I want to let out and have many roles in mind.

5- Which actor, actress and director do you want to work. with the most and why?

I was lucky at the beginning of my career to work with a number of veteran directors, scriptwriters and stars so I wish now to work with younger generations because cooperating with them will definitely change the work spirit. But the directors I want to work with from the younger generations have to be well versed and know how to use all their tools; I totally believe in the talented directors Marwan Hamed, Mohamed Yassin and Kamla Abou Zekry. I have a good relationship with all the stars of the current generation such as Menna Shalaby, Ahmed Helmy, Maged el Kidwany and Hend Sabry
and I’d love to work with them.

6- You’ve acted in period dramas and taken on comic, tragic, romantic and social roles. Which is the closest to your heart?

I tend more toward social, romantic, tragedy and dark tragedy. I don’t prefer violence, I can’t bear violence but at the same time I can present it. It is difficult to determine the
closet to my heart but the script and the way the character is presented are the factors that attract me to a role.

7- What are the one movie and the one soap you consider milestones in your career?

I consider Kokha’s role in Kharag w Lam Ya’od (1984) with veteran actor Yehia el Fakharany and directed by the late renowned Mohamed khan an important milestone in my career, because at that time I started to know how to choose my roles. In the late 1980s I started to be a box office star so I had to continue my career at the same pace in the 1990s, where I presented a number of distinguished movies that I cherish, and which won awards and honors. I was lucky that I got the chance to work with veteran directors like Atef el Tayeb, Saeed Marzouk, Youssef Chahine, Mohamed Khan, Rafaat el Mehey. I presented different and diversified roles and deeply studied many characters.

8-How has motherhood changed your personality? How do you balance between your work and person’s life?

Motherhood has improved my character and given me more positive energy. It’s made me more forgiving, increased my awareness and drove me to love the future more. It is by all means a great gift from God, the mother loves her son more than anything, that’s why paradise is under the feet of mothers. I love my work a lot, I am so keen to succeed as an actress, I respect myself, my audience and I take seriously the responsibility of my work and present my roles with all the love, credibility and devotion, I really enjoy acting. For more than 10 years I was solely focused on my work and I neglected myself, it is true that I enjoyed a lot of achievements in this period as result of my concentration and huge efforts but at the same time I didn’t enjoy many things in my life. Recently I started to balance between my work and personal life, I work
hard at the same time I spend more time with my family, paying more attention to my family bond and personal life.

9-What principles and values are you are keen to instil in your son?

Raising a son is very difficult and a great responsibility. Since Khaled was a child I was keen to instil in him good morals, manners and principles, teach him how to treat others
properly, to have strong faith, be close to God, and to love for others what he loves for himself.

This generation is clearly difficult to deal with; and most millennials feel a sense of entitlement to everything. How are you dealing with that?

My mom faced a lot of difficulties when she was raising me and my sister, but nowadays because of the technology, the whole world has become like a small town; youth are now more open and bold. I see this as a much healthier environment because youth today have all the things available so they have to choose based on their minds and references. On the other hand, it’s made the parents’ role much more difficult, that’s
why mothers today need to be patient and understanding.

10-What’s the secret of your beauty? Could you give our female readers some beauty tips?

I don’t see myself as beautiful, but in general beauty is that of the soul, what is important is the calmness and psychological serenity. I generally don’t wear make-up except while shooting, or for occasions and events. I use natural oils like olive oil and coconut oil and drink a lot of water to make sure I’m always hydrated. I also sleep early to relax my facial skin; our psychological state directly affects how we look, so we have to take care of our mental health. I also work out daily, even if just walking, I eat healthy fresh food and I never eat canned food.

11-Tell us more about your role as a goodwill ambassador with the UN.

In 2015 I was appointed the #Unite4Heritage envoy, becoming the first envoy of the campaign launched by UNESCO. At the time, several Egyptian monuments had been smuggled and looted and our Egyptian antiquities are the main factor that boosts our tourism. Thank God Egypt now has regained its strong tourism status due to the sustainable work carried out by the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. My role is to work on protecting our antiquities and looking for means to preserve them by conducting training courses in schools for students to increase their awareness through drawing and films, and organizing visits to various Egyptian museums.

12- You started your career as a child. How has this early start contributed to your early artistic maturity and helped in building your talent?

I was raised in a family that was concerned with different kinds of arts, and that increased my artistic experience at an early age. My mother was a radio presenter with the European program of the Egyptian radio, that’s why during my childhood I participated in a number of television programs before I started my cinematic career. I was young when I performed a big role in “El Bo’asaa’’ (Les Miserables), co-staring giant stars like Farid Shawky, Adel Adham and Fardous Abdelhamid. At that time I used to participate in two or three movies every year, that’s why I got used to the work system at an early age. But my father insisted that I must continue my education,
and was keen to guarantee that balance between work, family and education.

13- You are always keen to participate in the different Arab and international film festivals, to what extent you benefit from these festivals as an actress? How do evaluate the role of festivals in enhancing the cinema industry?

Festivals are the cinematic forum that gathers filmmakers from all over the world, where I find out about new cinematic trends on the technical, cultural or intellectual levels. The artist must keep up with the latest in his or her field, be artistically intellectual and familiar with everything new. My passion drives me to watch the festivals’ movies whether in the official competitions or outside it. I also participated in a number of
festivals as a jury member. I love to watch movies from all over the world to know
who shares with us the same passion with cinema. I prefer to watch the films in cinemas more than at home, it is more joyful, and I am keen to attend the seminars and the discussions that take place after the screenings at the festivals. I wish success to all the movies participating in festivals, as well as the expansion of the Egyptian film market in particular and the Arab in general.

14-To what extent can joint Arab production enhance the Arab cinema industry?

Joint Arab production is the optimal way to present different, diversified and bold projects with a good budget and will guarantee the highest percentage of distribution in the Arab world in particular and globally in general. Producing five huge joint Arab projects implemented with the latest cinematic techniques and that can compete globally is better than every country producing on their own. There is an interest in global cinema as evidenced by South Korea’s The Parasite which grabbed the world’s attention at the Academy Awards and took the lion’s share of the Oscars. The world is now concerned with other cinema industries, not just Hollywood.

15- Are satisfied with your career thus far?

I am happy and satisfied with what I’ve presented till now, whether in cinema, TV drama or theatre and hope that my audience accepts and admires my movies, series and plays as I work to please them and gain their respect. Throughout my long career I always glimpse happiness in the eyes of my fans when I see them, I see their love and respect and this is the real treasure to me.

3/25/2020 4:42:43 PM
<![CDATA[French Riviera Film Festival : An International Haven for short films]]>
Egypt Today Magazine chatted with the founder of French Riviera Film Festival Gotham Chandna about his prominent festival which is dedicated to short film content and why he chose to host it every year in Cannes. Chandna plays a key role in Cannes International Film Festival as his goal as well as the festival one to provide a platform to showcase short film content to the audiences in Cannes.

gotham 2

- 1-What is the main mission of French Riviera Film Festival?

The mission behind French Riviera Film Festival (FRFF) is to provide a platform to the filmmakers to showcase short form content to a worldwide audience under one roof! Cannes is one of the largest events attended by the filmmaking community from all over the world. It is literally the melting pot for creativity and that backdrop provides the best setting for our film festival.

2- Why is the film festival dedicated to short films? To what extent you see short form content play vital role in the cinematic scene in general?

Short form content is gaining popularity very rapidly. Audiences today like instant gratification, sooner than ever. The advent of platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram stories have brought the attention span of people to a bare minimum. We decided to go the short film route to cater to the changing times.

Yes, short form content plays a very vital role in the big scheme of things. It is an arena where budding or experienced filmmakers can practice their craft of story-telling on a small budget and in a very limited time. Unlike feature length films, the filmmakers working with short films have a very little time to get the message across. Many times, this also sets the stage for future feature length projects.

3- Explain to us more about the festival sections?

The filmmakers have a wide variety of film genres that they can pick from in the festival. These include Drama, Comedy, Documentary, Animation, Sci-Fi/Horror, Experimental, and Lifestyle, Fashion, Music Video were added to give it the “French Riviera” flair.

4- Why did you choose to make this festival in French Riviera despite being an Indian American? Why not in India or US? And why its date is very near Cannes Film Festival?

Our festival takes place during Cannes FF and this is intentional. We are delighted to provide young filmmakers from around the world another avenue to promote their work. Many will be attending the Short Film Corner at Cannes, and some are even official selections. We definitely have a captive, built in audience by scheduling FRFF during Cannes.

5- Tell us more about the festival achievements in the first edition?

The inaugural edition of FRFF was very successful! Not only did we receive hundreds of submissions from all over the world, our festival advisory board and jury were very helpful in helping us bringing the festival together.

The festival opened with an “out of competition” screening of the Oscar (2019) winning short film, Skin. We had intense competition in the Drama category, and the winner, “Tattoo” is a Berlinale Crystal Bear alumni. The best actress also went to “Behdokht Valian” (Tattoo).

Bruno Chatelin of Filmfestivals.com has provided us major support in the first year and he continues to do so in a very strategic manner. All in all, we’re one small happy family!

6- With your passion for independent cinema, what are your future plans for the festival?

I love independent films (more than mainstream cinema) and I’d only like to see more and more filmmakers learn about our film festival and showcase their talent. A little secret, I watch all shorts that are submitted to the festival!

7- Do you follow Egyptian or Arab cinema? If yes how do you evaluate it?

I’m not avidly following Egyptian or Arabic films but I do watch them on a regular basis. As artists (the filmmakers) they have a unique way of painting (storytelling) and nurturing has a lot to do with that. Different backgrounds offer a different way of telling stories.

I equally enjoy the drama tear jerkers and the comedies that I have come across. I would really love to see more Arabic content being submitted to the festival (hint hint!)

8- This was your first time to the Cairo Film Festival, what are your thoughts?

It was my first time in Cairo and it will always have a special place in my heart. I was truly amazed to see the lavish red carpets (yes plural), A+ production by the festival team and the impeccable hospitality and service offered to me everywhere in Egypt. The festival left no stone unturned. I look forward to being there in the years to come.

9- What is your favorite cinema festival and why?

I basically love all film festivals. The synergies that evolve at the film festivals have something special. I might just have my heart set on Cannes if I dug deeper.
10- Who are the festival sponsors?

We plan to announce our sponsors and latest partners in the New Year.

11- What are you plans for the second year of FRFF and any other plans in the works?

Nicole Muj and I co-produce the festival and we are thrilled about our second year. We have worked together for about six years at Cannes Film Festival on various projects and on many other events, including Miss India America in LA, as well as events during Sundance, American Film Market, and others. We have amazing partners and judges already in place, and an online shop at Yuzzl.com I hope you can join us at the second annual FRFF. We also recently announced the Reel Rosé film festival that will launch during LA Fashion Week in September 2020.



2/15/2020 6:36:26 PM
<![CDATA[Lucky in Love: Inspirational Marriage Stories]]>
This month we share the experiences of three real-life couples who have found
love in unlikely places, who have enduring marriages and who have their own special
quotes to go along with their stories.

Yasmine & Mohamed

“I was 33 when I met him. Divorced, broken, with zero self-confidence after finally ending an abusive marriage, I was almost certain that all men are the same,” Yasmine El-Ghazaly begins.

She says she first met her husband Mohamed on a rock ‘n roll Facebook group; and it was only when she noticed a number of close common friends between them on the group that she plucked up the courage to reply to his Facebook message.

“I mean, who in their right mind can [imagine] meeting their life-partner online and on a rock ‘n roll group on Facebook? But I sure am glad I went ahead and replied to his message! I got the best husband I could have wished for in return,” Yasmine says.

After the Facebook chats came the long phone calls and finally they met in person. “Mohamed would call me up to suggest meeting over coffee or a movie and
I would reply, “Sure, but I am in Siwa hiking and riding bicycles” or, “That’s a great idea! Wait till I come back from St. Catherine because I’m over there running.”

“He was very amused at how different I was and he understood how these eccentric activities were a big part of my life,” Yasmine adds.

Mohamed is a women’s rights champion who works as a counsellor in the judiciary system in Egypt.

Yasmine admits he is a very unique male combination that she has never seen before.

“He defends women’s rights and knows a lot about this field in Egypt, even
more than me. We courted briefly then decided to try marriage again for the second time for both of us.

He too was divorced and never really thought of getting married again. We
were both afraid to fail again. We were both in our 30s, he has two kids with him fulltime and neither of us wanted to fail and get our hearts broken again, still, we decided to test our love for each other and try. So we got married,” Yasmine recalls.

Both Yasmine and Mohamed bore baggage from previous abusive hurtful relationships, so they were trying to avoid making the same mistakes and they were both
investing in this relationship. “On my side it was very challenging to be a fulltime stepmother without having children of my own and hence no experience with
kids, but thankfully, no experience was really needed, my heart spoke to his children’s hearts from the first moment we met. Motherhood comes in so many forms, not necessarily through blood ties, and I now consider them both no less or different than children of my own,” Yasmine recounts.

“Our married life is certainly unorthodox, but it works for us. I am very emotional, he is more rational. I love adrenaline rushes, he enjoys calm serene activities. I am athletic, he enjoys reading books. I spend my free time hiking, he goes to philosophical
debates. We are both metal-heads, although I am way more dedicated to going to metal and rock gigs and concerts than him. We are different, but at heart we do resemble each other,” Yasmine explains, elaborating that they are both unselfish, compassionate and giving.

“In the end, what makes the good days outnumber the bad days is how keen we are to make each other happy even if we do not do everything together,”
Yasmine explains.

According to her, it’s not about having a lot in common, as much as it is about trusting your partner and doing your best to make them smile, even if you are
not doing everything together.

“In our home I will go on hikes with my friends for two nights or more and my husband will take over my duties at home, with a smile while he misses me but understands that this is part of the personality he loves so much and it’s also his way of showing his
love to me. In reciprocation he may opt to travel alone with his friends or engage in any other career or leisure related activity that can consume his time with us as a couple, however I will gladly support him knowing that he is happy, even though I miss him. I
am the wife who runs marathons, rides bicycles, hikes mountains, lifts weights, hates the kitchen, hates shopping, wears mostly sports gear instead of fancy heels and he loves me the way I am,” Yasmine says.

Asked to describe her story in one quote, Yasmine says, “We take a step up and a step down at the same time, always.”

Radwa & Ezz

“I think destiny played an important role in our love story and marriage,” Radwa Abdelmoneim says, describing her relationship with her husband Ezzeldin Ibrahim. A silver aficionado, Radwa was visiting a silver store near her house five years before she met her future husband. “The owner was a lovely cheerful man in his 60s, and after I chose some pieces he said to me ‘you are so beautiful, have fine taste and I will pray to
God that my son will have a bride like you,” Radwa recalls.

A year after, the kind shop owner passed away and Radwa moved to a new house and didn’t visit his store again. Four years later she met Ezz at the gym of the Gezira Club and it was love at first sight. “I felt I had seen him before, not just his face but I felt I’d
known this soul before,” Radwa recalls.

Ezz was in the silver business but it never occurred to Radwa that there could be a relation between him and the late lovely shop owner, until he asked her to
accompany him to one of his stores, only to to find out it was the same store she visited five years ago. “I told Ezz about the lovely man I saw in this store, and I found out that it was his father! Our love was arranged by God, a result of his father’s prayers. Ezz has
the same kind soul as his father,” Radwa says, adding that her marriage was built on love, support and sharing from day one.

“Ezz discovered my artistic talents, encouraged me to start working with him in silver designs and I truly found myself in this,” Radwa says.

Today, Radwa and Ezz have been married for 13 years and have three kids; Ibrahim, Rukia and Omar. “Before I met Ezz I used to enjoy reading quotes about
love but I never thought that my all-time favorite (“The best thing to hold onto in life is each other”) would describe my own experience,” Radwa says.

Mohamed & Nabila

Mohamed and Nabila have been married for 40 years. “Our marriage was an arranged traditional one, without an amorous love story, but in the first year I discovered that I’d fallen in love with her,” Mohamed recounts. “Nabila made me know what love is, she is
my first and last love,” he says.

The businessman recounts that the best and the greatest love is born as result of hard work and dedication, and doesn’t usually happen at first sight. He describes how Nabila, who chose to be a homemaker, endured a lot of hard circumstances at the beginning
of their joint journey. “That’s why our marriage managed to survive for 40 years,” explains Mohamed.

“That first click can happen very easily, but the challenge is to continue and keep the love alive. Nabila and I simply did that,” Mohamed says.

“Nabila made me him realize the true meaning of Ghandi’s quote, ‘Where there is love there is life.’ For me where there is Nabila there is life.”
2/14/2020 2:06:04 PM
<![CDATA[Mawadda: Marriages Made To Last ]]>
In an effort to address the spiralling divorce rates, the Ministry of Social Solidarity has launched the “Mawadda” Program, with the primary aim of keeping couples together.

“The idea of the Mawadda [which roughly translates to Cordiality] program
came up at the sixth Youth Forum that took place at Cairo University in July 2018, when President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi asked the Minster of Social Solidarity—at that time Dr. Ghada Wali—to study the reasons behind the high divorce rates in Egypt that had become a phenomenon,” says Dr. Ayman Abdel Aziz, the General Coordinator of the program.

“The minister went back to the statistics provided by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics [CAPMAS] and found that in 2017, there were 198,000 divorce [cases in Egypt], marking about 542 per day,” says Abdel Aziz, who has a strong academic background in the area of family disputes, adding that the rate of divorces among the newly married couples who had been married for one to three years was the highest, constituting 38 percent of the total number of divorces that year.

Cairo, Alexandria and Port Said were the governorates with the highest percentages.
“The minister thought that since the highest divorce rates are among newly married couples, we have to raiseawareness in this demographic about the importance of
protecting their marriage bond and the negative consequences of divorce before they get married, to solve the divorce problem from its roots,” Abdel Aziz says.

The Mawadda program teaches youth the skills needed to protect their marriage before they commit to this union.

It teaches both young men and women how to deal with each other to be able have a successful and strong relationship, and teaches married couples how to be role models
for their kids, Abdel Aziz explains.

A protocol has been developed between the program and the Ministry of Higher Education, given that universities bring together the biggest numbers of Egyptian youth in one place.

“We’ve completed two rounds [of training] for university students; in each round we spoke with 20,000 youths,” Abdel Aziz recounts, explaining that the first round took
place in March and April 2019 and the second round was in November and December of the same year.

Mawadda also offered sessions to 12,000 young women and men who are performing their general service after university graduation, in addition to raising the awareness
of 30,000 young army conscripts, 2,500 police conscripts and 500 university students at summer camps.

Abdel Aziz explains that each training day includes three workshops: a religious, medical and social/psychological session, in addition to a psychodrama session presented by two of the participants who portray a married couple negatively interacting with each other, and two others (or the same) portraying a married couple showing positive interaction.

“We practically see the difference between the negative and positive interactions, and the participants themselves start to know what is right and what is wrong, so they start to say, ‘no the husbands shouldn’t have done that or the wives should have done this.’ Instead of just telling them this is right and this is wrong, we make them think and discover by themselves the right and wrong things, that way we push them to change themselves by themselves, not just by memorizing the scientific content now and forgetting it after a while,” Abdel Aziz explains.

Creating a comprehensive scientific guide covering all aspects of marriage, Mawadda’s content is offered directly to university, session and camp participants as well as indirectly to everyone through the program’s online platform and Facebook page, Abdel Aziz says.

The content is reviewed by Al-Azhar and the Supreme Council of Universities. Mawadda’s online platform was launched by President Sisi during the third edition of the World Youth Forum that took place in December 2019.

The platform offers advisory information for parents of sons or daughters who are about to wed, as well as guidance to young women and men before marriage.

Married couples can also find advice and access information, “because some married couples unfortunately lack a lot of information about the medical, psychological, social and sexual sides of the marriage relationship which contributes to the high divorce rates,” Abdel Aziz explains.

Through the platform, users can access to guidance lectures offered by 17 experts, including Sheikh Amr ElWardany who raises their religious awareness pertaining to
marriage relationships; Dr. Mohamed El-Mahdy who gives lectures about psychological awareness; veteran actress

Ragaa El-Gidawi; famed writer, scriptwriter, poet and producer Medhat El-Adl; and TV presenter Shafky El-Monayery. Through their lectures on the platform, the experts
offer their wide experience to users to help them understand the true meaning of marriage. Also, Dr. Mohamed el Mahdy delivers lectures on the platform to raise psychological awareness.

“The 17 Mawadda platform experts are respected public figures that youth consider as role models and look up to.We are keen that Mawadda platform experts have different backgrounds, covering all the aspects of the marriage relationship; whether medical, social, sexual, psychological, religious or human,” Abdel Aziz says, adding that anyone can register on Mawadda’s online platform for free, by providing their name, number, email, and creating their own personal account and then they can watch all videos.
“Between the videos, we ask users questions to know the extent to which they were paying attention and understood the information given to them by the experts. We
want to be sure that people truly benefit from Mawadda lectures, and not just watch the videos and gain nothing,” Abdel Aziz says.

In addition to the online platform, Mawadda’s official Facebook page is very active, as anyone can ask any question related to the medical, psychological, social and sexual sides of marriage. Users can also find a number of videos produced by the platform on YouTube.

Recently, the program produced a play that was staged on Sayed Darwish Theater, where entrance was free. It tackled how married couples’ problems have persisted
from the Pharaonic era till now, the nature of the problems between husbands and wives, and how they devel-oped over the ages. More free plays will be produced in the
upcoming period, tailor-made for couples who are about to get married and for married couples, to be able to recognize and overcome their problems, Abdel Aziz announces.

In the upcoming period, Mawada will cooperate with the Ministry of Justice through the family courts and dispute resolution office, to talk with the married couples who have disputes with each other to prevent their divorce.

‘’So Mawada is keen to preserve the marriage bond in all its stages before marriage and after marriage’’ Abdel Aziz said.

The program has a total of 240 trainers who “work in the three governorates with the highest divorce rates:

Cairo, Alexandria and Port Said, in the three universities in Cairo which are Ain Shams, Helwan and Cairo Universities, in addition to Alexandria University and Port Said
university,” Abdel Aziz explains, adding that Mawadda was keen on choosing younger trainers who share a common language with youth, so that they are able
to interact with and understand each other.

The trainers are of varied professional backgrounds. A number of governmental and nongovernmental organizations are partnering with Mawadda, such as the Ministries of Higher Education, Justice, Defense and Interior, Al-Azhar, the Coptic Orthodox Church, Dar El-Iftaa, the National Council for Women, the Information and Decision
Support Center (IDSC) and the United Nations Fund For Population Activities (UNFPA). In future, Mawadda is set to cooperate with the Ministry of Justice through the family
courts and dispute resolution office, to talk with married couples in an effort to prevent their divorce.

“Mawadda is keen on preserving the marriage bond in all its stages, before
marriage and after marriage,” Abdel Aziz says.]]>
2/14/2020 1:48:33 PM
<![CDATA[A Vision of Modesty]]>
Tell us how it all began

I started my professional career in 2005 as a stylist and make-up artist after returning from Germany where I took make-up and styling courses. At that time veiled brides used to take off their hijab on their wedding day so this pushed me to design a new style of hijab for brides, which was very popular. Back then I did bridal make-up and helped brides with their veils. In 2011, I established my fashion line, Glow. My first collection launched in summer 2012, and though the designs were simple, the collection achieved great success because it had a unique concept.

Why did you choose to design for veiled women?

My main aim is to create simple designs that make veiled ladies look elegant, because wearing hijab doesn’t mean you have to forgo elegance. Modest fashion has become mainstream in many countries around the world; Nike cooperated with the iconic veiled model Halima Aden, who I want one day to wear one of my designs. My goal is to have a different perspective for hijab fashion in Egypt, and I’m working to be part of this change. But not all of my customers are veiled; I design for veiled women of all ages but any woman looking for a modest outfit can wear my designs.

What are the latest trends in hijab? What advice do you have for veiled women for choosing their outfits?

Number one you should take good care of your psychological health, because this will be reflected on your face, skin, body, hair and also on people around you. There are a lot of trendy styles, wear what suits you and makes you feel comfortable. The most important thing is to know your body and its weak points in order to choose the outfit that can hide your body’s defects. Don’t be obsessed with being curvy or having an hourglass figures body, because few women naturally look like that. Don’t overdo make-up, and instead go for simple, natural looks. The colors of your hijab should be consistent with those of your outfits, the simpler you are the more elegant you will be. I prefer cotton, satin and pure silk veils.

What inspires your signature designs?

I love simple designs. Of course I continuously follow the latest fashion trends worldwide, for example pailettes are very in this year, so I used them in my latest designs but in a different way. Now entire suits are made from paillettes, but not everyone has the courage to wear them, some ladies see that paillettes are not practical so I used them as ornaments on sleeves and mixed them with other fabrics. So yes, we are following the latest trends but at the same time create elegant, simple looks. I want to send a message to Egyptian ladies: please be braver and don’t hesitate to wear bold fabrics. For example some ladies say they can’t wear outfits made from sequins in the morning; this is not right. They have to try new styles and get out of their comfort zone.

Screen Shot 2020-02-12 at 5.03.13 PM
Jailan Atef - Photography by Amera Nour

Do you specialize in certain types of clothes?

I design mainly casual and semiformal outfits which are more in demand and are more practical for me because I mass produce. Personally I love to design untraditional, new and creative evening outfits and dresses, but that requires haute couture or in other words something specific for each client. I do sometimes make some apres midi outfits, and with the right accessories they can turned into eveningwear. For example if you are wearing a plain black dress, statement jewelry or a big diamond necklace can turn it into an evening dress. I sell accessories in my stores to match my outfits. I deal with a talented group of accessories designers, I give them the ideas I want to be implemented and they do it. I’ve designed accessories before, especially the ones made of fabric, and have also designed shoes and summer boots, but I prefer to focus on the outfit design.

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Jailan Atef - Photography by Amera Nour

What are the trends this winter?

First of all black which I personally adore, burgundy, dark cashmere, dark yellow, beige, and forest green, especially in an army print. Capes and long coats are very popular this season. Under a coat you can wear a dress, especially a checked one, and a cardigan. Skirt trousers are also in this winter and fabric trends include velvet, suede, thin wool, angora and wool lycra. I love using thin wool because it makes you feel warm and at the same time it’s very flattering and slimming.

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Jailan Atef - Photography by Amera Nour

What fabrics do you use? Where do you manufacture your outfits?

Someday I hope I can get all my fabrics from Egypt, but unfortunately the quality and the pigments of Egyptian fabrics are not always high, so I use imported fabrics to guarantee good quality. In the past our fabrics were better than those made in Europe, I wish the quality could go back to that level.

I have production lines in three factories. The credit in the manufacturing process goes to my husband, Khaled, who is responsible for the production phase. Without his vision and support the brand wouldn’t have grown this big.

Screen Shot 2020-02-12 at 5.03.05 PM
Jailan Atef - Photography by Amera Nour

What plans do you have for the future?

I export some of my outfits but on a small scale but I want to expand and export to more countries around the world to make my Egyptian brand an international one. I want to open branches in the MENA region, in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and also in London, the US and Paris because there are large Arab communities there.

2/12/2020 5:14:30 PM
<![CDATA[The Talent Hunters]]>
Fares was in Cairo to get to know the Egyptian fashion industry and its designers a little better; and she and her team spent their time visiting showrooms and mingling with up-and-coming designers for a sense of who they are, their inspirations, aspirations, processes and talents.

We sat down with Fares before the introduction event that was hosted by Egyptian singer Lara Scander and Maison Pyramide. It was a star-studded event with Egyptian icons, such as Shereen Reda, Yousra, Mona Zaki, Arwa Gouda and many more famous fashionable faces.

Fares started by explaining how the trust aims to develop and showcase Egyptian designers to the region and international fashion industry. “Fashion Trust Arabia (FTA) is open to all Arab designers in the GCC, the MENA region, the Levant, so the whole region … now we have 550 applications and we would want to get to 25 finalists,” Fares says, pointing out that last year’s trust saw many Egyptians in the final round. “Last year, we had a few Egyptians, this is how we showcase and show the talent and the creativity of Egyptian designers by having, of course, Egyptians being part of the 25 finalists and focusing on their creativity and their talent.”

Over the past years, the Egyptian fashion industry has taken off and become a hub for many designers. But with so many off them wanting to go international, a number winds up westernizing their designs to appeal to a wider audience rather than embracing their roots, leading to a concern that Egypt and the Middle East have lost their culture and identity in fashion. “There are some Egyptian designers who do have a Middle Eastern [feel], like Okhtein. I remember seeing them for the first time; and I said to myself, these designers must be Middle Eastern, so yes some designers have a Middle Eastern feel and it’s great to embrace it but also some are more influenced and are happy to be more Western and it’s fine too… It depends on their own identity,” argues Fares. “You push them and help them to stick to their own identity but if they are more influenced by the West, it doesn’t mean that they’re not good designers.”

Azza Fahmy is one of Egypt’s biggest success stories and has managed to push her brand into the global market, by tapping into marketing and commercializing her collections. For many designers in Egypt, this isn’t a possibility due to lack of funds; often it’s not a lack of talent but more that our work just isn’t seen, Fares says. She highlights that the FTA is here to do just that; “So for instance we took them [the finalists] to New York, to be more exposed to the international industry, we chose the finalist in Diane Von Furstenberg showroom in June in New York. Now they’re being mentored by MatchesFashion.com (an online luxury shopping platform)... So this is what I am trying to do; to bring the West to our region to showcase the Middle East.”

With its highly influential advisory board, the FTA has a significant impact on the designers. “This is why I am trying to have people on the advisory board like Sarah Mower who is an advocate for young designers,” explains Fares, who recalls the board’s reaction to the region’s talent when they first arrived. “When they came, everyone was so happily surprised to see how creative our region is, how talented our part of the world is… This is what I am trying to do through Fashion Trust Arabia’s work; we are trying to expose our region and our designers to the West by bringing Tim Blanks, Jefferson Hack, Sarah Mower and all those people. So that’s my aim and that’s how I am trying to do it,” she says.

Recalling her experience with the finalists during last year’s FTA showcase, Fares cites how networking was one of the best outcomes. “When I went around and spoke to all the 25 finalists, the thing that they all told me was that it was an amazing opportunity for them to bond. Before it, the Lebanese designer hadn’t met the Egyptian designer, the Egyptian hadn’t met the Qatari, the Qatari hadn’t meet the Jordanian. So it’ wasn’t a community… Through Fashion Trust Arabia we build a community and then we build the exposure for them. But there are a lot of fashion weeks; there is New York, London, Milan, and Paris. All those editors, they’re exhausted traveling from one show to another. So I feel that way through Fashion Trust Arabia we’re doing it where we showcase everybody.”

Pointing out that the FTA is not a competition for designers, and that there are no losers, Fares explains, “The advisory board will see that one [designer] is not chosen but a member might want to work with that designer that’s not a part of the 25 finalists. So it’s exposure really.”

As the trust will be nurturing the next generation of designers, it’s important that those designers have put the environmental effects of their production into consideration. “I want to bring experts to mentor the designers,” Fares says. “Maison De Mode are our partners so they will be mentoring the designers, they already did when they went to New York in June. It’s a matter that everyone is exploring, everyone is interested and we will focus more and more and be much more involved next year for them to be even more sustainable.”

Maison De Mode is a luxury ethical fashion online retailer; and among other experts is Livia Firth, the co-founder and creative director of Eco-Age and founder of the Green Carpet Challenge. Her aim is to change the world to a more ethical and sustainable one. “That’s the way moving forward, every designer has to be sustainable,” maintains Fares.
Intellectual property piracy in the Middle East is a major issue with high-end brands and even amongst local designers in the region. “Everyone is influenced by everybody. But if there is a serious problem, we will support the designers and in terms of mentoring it would be the MatchesFashion team who would be handling [it],” explains Fares who will be launching her second book this month. “It’s my second book by Phidon and Krista Smith is my co-editor, she was the West Coast editor at Vanity Fair. So yeah, I think that I would like to explore that.”

For updates on Fashion Trust Arabia, follow them on Facebook and Instagram @FashionTrustArabia
11/11/2019 9:05:39 PM
<![CDATA[The “Breadwinners”]]>
Caring for one family can be a daunting task, yet these hardworking women do it for several families in the short span of one day. Then, most of them go home to deal with the toxic masculinity of their husbands or fathers, who wait for the women to come home in order to collect their money and go sit at a street café. “I was married to a man who used to drink and smoke up in front of our child, which is unacceptable. As soon as he started getting physically aggressive I got a divorce,” says Amal, one of the breadwinners interviewed for the project.

These housekeepers work day and night to earn enough money for a modest life and to take care of their families, receiving barely any appreciation or gratitude for their relentless efforts. “I was supporting my husband and daughter financially and I ended up having a lot of petty debts. My husband is old and not involved in household decisions. I consider him my third child,” says Azza, another of the women interviewed.

“Qualitative research reveals anxiety among men and women about shifting gender roles. Some men described women’s work outside the home as a destabilising force within the family, supplanting the husband’s ‘natural’ role as a provider. Others worried about a woman’s career drawing her away from her supposedly primary role as caregiver, putting children at risk. Some women were also concerned about the risk of a male backlash against demands for gender equality, making women shoulder more burdens and responsibilities, instead,” the intro of Geoushy’s Breadwinners book quotes from the “Understanding Masculinities 2017” UN Women report. The report illustrates some of these tensions and how they relate to the shift that is occurring in the female-male work paradigm.

Geoushy’s inaugural portrait series captures Egyptian housekeepers in proud, empowering, and humanistic ways, highlighting their role as cornerstone to their families and every home they work at. The Breadwinners exhibit is showing till the end of September at the Royal Photographic Society 100 Heroines Exhibition in London & Blackpool. One of the portraits was selected as an AOP (Association of Photographers) finalist and was part of an awards exhibition in London in July. The Breadwinners photobook will be available for purchase by the end of 2019, with all the sales proceeds going to the collaborators.

We talked to Geoushy, who is currently studying photography at London College of Communication (LCC) and investing her academic knowledge to add depth and meaning to her love for capturing images and telling stories that deconstruct and question the public’s perception of the prevailing power of patriarchy, as she states on her website.

What was your inspiration for the Breadwinners project?
My inspiration was drawn from Alfonso Cuaron’s Film Roma. The film was a catalyst for events and people [I have] always encountered and met in [my] hometown, Cairo.

What drew you to these women in particular and to the stereotypes attached to their choice of occupation?
In a patriarchal society where men can expect to control their wives’ career choices and have a final say over all household matters, a woman may go out into the world, find a job as a housekeeper, earn money and support her whole family. However, her power and status at home may not change at all, so she ends up carrying the burden rather than the privilege of being the sole provider.

Being a woman and a documentary photographer, and having been directly impacted by these patriarchal structures, I was burdened with the financial responsibilities of providing for their families while enduring the societal pressure of expected gender norms. These narratives are my visceral reaction to our current social and legal climate, my way of raising awareness of these problems that we must all face together.

What surprised you the most when you were talking to the women?
These female domestic workers are not provided any sort of legal protection. They don’t have health insurance, social insurance, or pensions to rely on when they retire. In fact, legislators had actively sought to deprive them of legal protection because they do not understand how to compare a domestic worker to a regular one—their work is not seen as real or worthy of labor protection laws. The sheer amount of effort and time required of them to do all this work, and yet not be given any appreciation, legal support, or respect appalled me.

[There’s also the] shocking toxic masculinity and the commonality of having a passive unemployed man in the family (usually the husband or the father) taking control of his wife’s or daughter’s income. Usually, those male family members rely on her completely to provide [for them], yet expect her to obey and answer to them.

Most of my collaborators were proud of their work; however, they felt that it’s the society, especially the men, that associated negative connotations to the profession. Many women had to lie about their profession when they started working, in fear of stigma.
[Finally, the] normalization of the word shaghala or khadama and how some children and employers have unjustified entitlement and ownership over their housekeeper; these attitudes and ways of communication deeply hurt housekeepers.

Were any of them reluctant to take part in the project?
Some were unwilling to collaborate [out of] fear that the man in their family would object to them being photographed. I had to accept and respect their choices of course.

What kind of impact do you want this project to have on audiences?
My project strives to initiate/stir a conversation about how Egyptian society perceives, treats, and rewards these dignified female housekeepers in Cairo. It aims to be a catalyst for social and legal change. It aims to prompt viewers to reconsider their perceptions and behaviors towards these dignified women and the work they do in their communities.

Follow Lina Geoushy on www.linageoushy.com and Instagram @linageoushy
10/27/2019 12:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Limitless Talents: Sarah Essam]]>
The Stoke City striker recently teamed up with fitness guru and fashion designer Deana Shaaban on a shoot to showcase Shaaban’s newest womenswear collection, which she describes as “a visual representation of the strength inside every woman and the true power that lies within, if one can allow themselves to delve deeply and access that strength.”

Egypt Today caught up with Essam to chat about her career path, her personal life and the situation for female athletes in Egypt.

Photography by Salma Adel / Makeup by Sara Ghoneim / Dressed in Deana Shaaban/ Shot on location at Ignite Egypt

When and how did your passion for football start?
Since I was a little child, I’ve always loved any sport that includes a ball. I found myself very talented in all of them: basketball, volleyball, handball, and football of course. Football has a special place in my heart; I used to watch my brother [playing] as a goalkeeper for Al-Moqawloon Club and also with his friends outside the club. I’d get really excited every time he and his friends let me play with them. I’ve always grabbed the attention of anyboy who saw me touching the ball, and that made me even [more] confident and hungry to improve myself in the game, to prove that there isn’t a difference between sexes [when it comes to playing football].

I knew there wasn’t enough attention from the [Egyptian] Football Association for women’s football and there would never be the same appreciation they get in Europe; or maybe in a long time, who knows? There are so many things I wish to see in my country and in the Middle East for women’s football.

Women’s football is not that popular in Egypt, how did your parents first respond to your passion for the sport?
There wasn’t any reaction until they realized that I’m taking it very seriously, not only as a hobby. I honestly prioritized it over my social life to train every single day and prove to all girls that nothing is impossible. You should only listen to the inner voice that supports you and tells you you’re capable of going beyond your expectations.


Tell us more about how your professional career started, and your debut on the international football scene.
It has always been an honor for me to play for the national team; I enjoyed every second of it. I loved being in the camp with my mates, training hard every day to represent my country; the national anthem and team spirit, it was irreplaceable. I always loved helping my mates in the national team and made sure everyone was happy and mentally ready for the upcoming game. I wish I can play in the World Cup when the FA decides to bring back the women’s football national team after two years without participating in any tournament.

You have made history, becoming the first Egyptian female footballer in the English Premier League. What kind of challenges have you had to face to reach this pioneering success?
Thank God for that, and I’ll always be looking forward to improving and breaking gender barriers. Challenges are not challenges when you have faith and discipline.

What do you consider to be the milestone moments in your career so far?
Winning best player in the El Gouna tournament with my school; being picked from the academy to [join] the juniors team; being picked from the juniors team to the first team at a very young age and scoring a hat-trick in my debut with them; qualifying for Africa’s Cup of Nations for the second time ever in our history (2016), the first time was before I was even born in 1998; signing for Stoke City Women and being able to give hope and change parents’ opinion about a girl who plays football; winning the Arab woman of the year award 2018 by London Arabia organization; and winning the Golden Boot. Working with the BBC was an amazing experience, and being able to be the first Egyptian and Middle Eastern female footballer to do a commentary on AFCON matches with the BBC; and most importantly, of course, being able to study civil engineering alongside being a footballer.

You have made such amazing achievements in recent years, which drove many to compare you to the famous Mohamed Salah. Some social media users have also criticized the fact that you, a female athlete, did not get the same recognition as Salah did. How do you feel about that?
First, thank God for the achievements, and I hope I keep representing Egypt in a positive way internationally. Mohamed Salah is a unique case and he’s done a lot. I cannot be compared to him, the only thing we have in common is the persistence and being the first to do a lot of things; more importantly as well is good manners and self-development.


How would you evaluate the situation for female athletes in our society today, and especially women’s football?
In our generation, age is just a number. We are more open to being determined and we always aspire to achieve what our mums struggled [to achieve] in their generation. Therefore, I’m so proud of female athletes and of women’s football in Egypt. I would suggest our motto be “Limitless talents.”

Do you see yourself as a role model for Arab females who dream of excelling in largely male sports like you have? What kind of influence do you think you can have in this regard?
Well, thank God again for rewarding me for all of my hard work and sacrifices. I’m grateful to hear someone say I’m their role model, and for winning the Arab Woman of the Year Award 2018 in sports. I was the only Egyptian there so this was a delightful responsibility. I hope I keep inspiring all young Arab female athletes and show non-Arab youth our determination and success.

When I was younger, I struggled to find a female role model to look up to and to make me feel that anything is possible; but unfortunately, I didn’t find enough support in the beginning. The only advantage of that was it made me stronger and more stubborn . . .

Tell us more about your personal life, asides from your football career.
I enjoy simple things in life, and I’ve been a pistachio

Photography by Salma Adel / Makeup by Sara Ghoneim / Dressed in Deana Shaaban/ Shot on location at Ignite Egypt

Fitness guru and fashion designer Deana Shaaban’s newest collection is an expression of the different sides to every woman. From the bright orange colors that represent the outgoing and full of life angles to the more subtle shades of blue and white reflecting the calm and sensual facets of the feminine, the fabrics used are soft and light on the skin, giving a light-as-a-cloud feeling to balance out through the hot summer/fall days. The shoot is a visual representation of the strength inside every woman and the true power that lies within, if one can allow themselves to delve deeply and access that strength.


10/27/2019 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Greenish for Sustainable Awareness ]]>

Greenish was founded by Abdalla and his best friend Medhat Benzoher. “During the Christmas break of 2016, me and my late best friend Medhat decided that instead of travelling to an expensive destination with our friends, we would use the money to travel to communities outside of Egypt and raise awareness about plastic pollution,” Abdalla recalls, speaking of their initial incentive.

Both shared a passion for traveling and combating plastic pollution. “At this time, we wrote a status saying ‘If you know anyone outside of Egypt who can welcome us for a training about the environment, we would be more than willing to come.’ The status was highly shared, to our surprise, and we ended up traveling to Aswan and attending a workshop at a public school, in addition to delivering workshops at Hamata on the Red Sea, Alexandria, and even Siwa and Marsa Matrouh,” Abdalla recalls, speaking of trips where they educated and raised awareness about the environment. Today, Greenish is one of the most recognized environmental awareness organizations nationwide and is a frontrunner for banning single-use plastic in Egypt.

Thanks to their work and that of other environmental organizations, there is hope on the horizon for Egypt’s long-term sustainability. “After the Red Sea governor’s decision to ban single-use plastic in the Red Sea governorate, we see a great change and optimism [in tackling environmental issues] on the horizon,” Abdalla says. “The upcycling industry is growing, but with a focus on exporting due to the expensive pricing of items presented, so we are looking forward to more affordable upcycled work presented in the market.”

The public have also shown their preference for a sustainable lifestyle, as supermarkets have now begun offering reusable bags instead of single-use plastic. “Young generations are basing most of their decisions on conscious purchasing. Consumers create brand changes and demand. The more the green wave is growing in Egypt and globally, the more we find businesses that are conscious and aware of their consumption,” the ambitious and forward-thinking entrepreneur explains.

When it comes to household owners, we all must do our part. No matter how small it is, Abdalla has several tips for going green around the home. “Buy a filter. It will save the environment tons of plastic, and also save you money. Link yourself to an oil recycling company. This is essential. Remember to buy local, particularly products wrapped in little plastic and take your reusable bags and containers when you go to market. Avoid single-use culture.”

Outside the home Abdalla encourages everyone to continue living green. “Leave nothing but footsteps at the beach, and take nothing but pictures. Don’t litter. When you are packing, you need to pack sustainability essentials, which are reusable bags and reusable bottles, as well as environmentally safe sunscreen and AVOID STRAWS at all cost because they kill our turtles."

The Circular Economy
The circular economy is based on reusing waste resources in order to create new products and to repeatedly do so in a circular fashion, thereby eliminating waste altogether.

“Any good businessperson will think branding, cost efficiency and circular economy is key for profitable businesses,” Abdalla tells Egypt Today. “All inputs need to analyzed and questioned Can we consume better? More sustainably? Also, businesses need to understand that change is never easy or smooth; yes, staff are going to struggle a bit, but if they are well engaged and oriented the business is both making money and building a good reputation, which will build a healthy environment for the surrounding community.”

Greenish have taken several steps to tackle plastic waste, aiming to eventually eliminate it completely. Among these steps is educating and raising awareness about plastic reduction and reuse, instead of recycling. “This means eliminating plastic from the source and substituting with more sustainable sources,” explains Abdalla, who also engages heavily in social media awareness campaigns and on-the-ground workshops to educate people about upcycling and turning trash into art or more valuable materials.

One of the projects that Greenish carries out is GreenishX, which aims to support entities such as schools to organize sustainability committees, comprising water, energy, waste, planting and sustainable development categories. The school committees are led by students and teachers in aims to reduce the waste produced by the entities and their CO2 emissions, Abdalla explains.

The committees are also responsible for planning a green transition for their entity under the support of the Greenish team, developing an action plan and ensuring implementation. “This model gives the children ownership over the change,” expresses Abdalla.

Greenish also certifies companies that are doing their part for the environment, as well as supporting their building of an effective environmental management system, including gathering workforce support. “Companies need to have willing staff members to build a sustainability committee. That committee can attend a one-day training session at our facility. They need to be willing to make their consumption figures visible, such as energy and electricity, and so forth,” says Abdalla.

VeryNile is co-founded by Greenish and Bassita, and takes on monumental efforts to clean up the Nile. It has successfully organized several cleanups, many with the participation of corporates. VeryNile is currently working on developing products from plastic trash collected from the Nile and banning plastic in Zamalek through raising awareness with the support and collaboration of the Ministry of Environment and the Zamalek Association, according to Abdalla. Their eventual goal is to ban single-use plastic altogether.

Greenish Manuals
Greenish manuals are where conscious and sustainable entities, and even the public, can find information, guidelines and morefor running a green-focused campaign, cleanup events planning, preparation and execution, planting, recycling or renewable energy. The manual is going to be in both written and video format. “Our information is based on content created by experts and instructors in the field of development and environment, as well as our experience so far in community engagement covering the environment,” Abdalla further explains.

A project Greenish is still developing and will hopefully be able to launch soon is Locate Green, an open-source community brand that maps the green solutions in the market, gardens, conscious businesses and entities. The brand also offers an online database of conscious businesses and sustainable solution providers, along with environmental guidelines for adopting eco-friendly practices.

Plastic Bah’
At the end of July, Greenish launched Plastic Bah, a collaboration with Go Clean, Montazah Center For Water Sports and Welad El Balad for cross-initiative support through training sessions in Alexandria. It also held a mega beach cleanup event in two locations, which hosted around 300 volunteers.

After Alexandria, they will be heading to five other different locations including Sharm El-Sheikh, Minya, Luxor, Kafr El-Sheikh and Qusseir. “This campaign is to create awareness among communities about the environmental challenges we face in water sanitation, waste management and how people can individually and collectively contribute to solve it,” says Abdalla.

10/26/2019 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[The Girl with the Golden Straw]]>
Among several brands encouraging a waste-free, sustainable lifestyle is UrbanEarthlings, whom we spoke to this month for the latest installment of our conscious living series. Formerly known as a community that inspires ethical living, and a platform where founder Amira Ayman can share her “experience with a plant-based diet, minimalism, conscious travel and more,” as she says on the website, UrbanEarthlings has relaunched as a store offering essential products that are both functional and sustainable.

The product that’s taken the market by storm is the brand’s stainless steel gold straws. Now a golden straw may sound like a luxurious item that one doesn’t need, but in fact it is a lifelong companion. I go everywhere with my golden straws and present them to my friends, not only as a product that’ll help reduce plastic waste, but as one that will make your drink taste ten times cooler and better. It even makes for a great conversation starter.

We caught up with Ayman to find out more about UrbanEarthlings, giving back and how to live a sustainable, waste-free life.

What’s your main goal for UrbanEarthlings?
Awareness. I really want to bring people closer to issues we face on a daily basis that are affecting the quality of our lives without us being aware of how much power we have over the situation. Examples are animal abuse and the relationship between our consumerist habits and climate change.

When did your interest for waste-free living start? What made you want to turn it into a business?
When I was an architecture student back in college, we used to learn a lot about sustainability but I had never considered how our lifestyles are related to it. Years later, I adopted a plant-based lifestyle, mainly for health reasons but also as a protest against factory farming and from there, I started understanding how a plant-based diet is gentler on the environment. I continued to educate myself until I came to understand how harmful our consumerist lifestyles are to our psychological state and to every living being on the planet.

I was buying all my zero-waste “essentials” from Europe whenever I traveled, and my mother also took up a habit to buy fabric or reuse old pillowcases to make bags for grocery shopping. I used to get a lot of questions on social media about “zero-waste essentials” and at the same time, I was personally supporting a few animal rescue shelters. I wanted to make these products available in Egypt and I wanted to have a sustainable source of income to help those shelters and so I realized that this can be a “waqf” style project, where it’s a sales-based business but most of its income funds charities and projects that basically help make the world a better place!

How do you source your materials?
For items produced in Egypt, it’s usually my mother with the help of my friends who work in the field. For example, she goes on hunts for synthetic-free cotton fabric with tips from my friends on how to verify that the fabric is plastic-free. For items produced outside of Egypt, I work with an agent who is responsible for verifying that our suppliers source materials ethically, do not test on animals, provide safe working conditions and pay fair wages.

What can people do to minimize their plastic/waste usage?
Consume less in general! Sometimes we think that an item packaged in glass is better than an item packaged in plastic. Well, yes, it kind of is, especially if you’ll forever reuse the jar. But let’s be honest, we are impulsive consumers and we buy a lot more than we need. We believe that convenience at the expense of the planet is inevitable. It really is not. That’s why I believe that adopting more of a minimalist lifestyle is essential to living with less waste.

Where do you think the Egyptian waste-free and upcycling industries stand today?
I see a lot of initiatives addressing the issue. I believe there’s room for more, plenty of room for even more!

What practices can people include in their daily lives to minimize waste and plastic usage?
Other than consuming less, we need to make less excuses for ourselves and start going everywhere with our reusable bags and jars. I also believe in restricting when the only choice is not a good one. For example, if I’m out and I want a coffee to go but I don’t have a reusable cup, I will not have my cup of coffee—it’s not like I’ll die without it, if I can’t make the time to sit and have it in a glass mug. If we start applying this to more and more of the hundreds of choices we make daily, we will be able to make a difference.

Do you believe that consumers’ buying and waste habits can change for the better?
I honestly do not think that reducing my waste, for example, is making much change in terms of having less trash in the world. It does work on something else, equally as important, and that is shifting a mindset. I believe this is important especially for my generation, we are raising future leaders, business owners and policy makers and it’s important that we raise them with awareness of these issues.

Where do you see your brand going in the future?
I would love it if it can support more anmal shelters and do more good overall. I am planning a full range of products that support people going plastic-free, yet I want the brand to stay small.

What fabrics/materials do you prefer to work with?
Natural, organic, biodegradable, always. I do support recycling and I know it’s very fashionable to reuse PET, for example for swim and sports wear, but everytime these items are washed, they shed microplastics in our water streams and soils. I would say it depends on how you’re using the material. If it will be washed, then always 100 percent organic fibers; if it will not be washed, recycled materials are an excellent solution to help get rid of much of the waste we have.

For UrbanEarthlings, it’s still relatively early to decide what I’ll be working with. We are investing 10 percent of all our sales on research and product development so I guess we will have a lot to explore! I’m currently looking at sugarcane pulp, rice straw and palm straw for some of the products.

Follow UrbanEarthlings on Facebook and Instagram: @UrbanEarhlings www.urbanearthlings.com
10/25/2019 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Alchemetics Cosmetics: Taking the Lead]]>

“As a little girl, you would always find me hiding behind a curtain with some makeup. [I] always got in trouble for it too! So you can say [it was] pretty early on that I fell in love with makeup,” Fareed begins. Having been a loyal buyer of beauty and skincare products for years, Fareed would soon come to find a gap in the Egyptian beauty market. “I realized there are no artisan Egyptian makeup brands in the market, nothing like the high-end quality makeup we all love but at reasonable prices. And that’s how Alchemetics was born.” At the time, Alchemetics Cosmetics was the only clean, cruelty-free, safe, durable, high-quality Egyptian artisan makeup available in the local market.

The product line includes crème luminizer, lip and cheek tint, Illuminating prepping essence, highlighter drops and velvet pressed eyeshadow, among others. The illuminating prepping essence is water-based, with no added preservatives, which Fareed says can be a blessing as well as a curse. “It keeps the makeup clean but it can also shorten its shelf life to two months, meaning you’ll have to store it in the fridge,” explains Fareed, who says that natural ingredients are always her first choice at Alchemetics.

The current line of products seeks to give a natural glow. “I wanted to cover women in shimmer and sparkles and I wanted to make sure of the sources, where the makeup and ingredients come from,” says Fareed, adding, “Though we love natural concoctions, but above all we love the synthetic fluorphlogopite, which is the magical ingredient that gives all the shimmer and color to our products. We choose and love to use this over its natural equal because it’s much safer for the skin and the environment. We are against the cruel child labor that is used in mining of the natural thing in India.”

When it comes to production, Fareed takes pride in their processes. “Everything we make is handmade from A to Z to ensure quality and safety. We make and sell [them] in small batches.” And other local beauty manufacturers are following suit. “After we started, a couple of other brands started to follow and started to produce makeup too. I think [Egypt] is actually starting to catch up with the world,” Fareed says, adding that her own brand is looking ahead to expansion and a couple of product releases in the coming months in both makeup and skincare.

Follow them on Facebook @alchemeticsindiecosmetics and Instagram @alchemeticscosmetics
10/24/2019 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Br?s: Perfect Hair Solutions]]>
Being somewhat of a newbie to the curly hair team, I have started to embrace it for a while now but I’ve only recently begun to adopt a natural haircare routine.
After getting a dry haircut to re-establish common ground with my hair, I tried a couple of popular curly hair products spawned by the Instagram beauty community and several curly hair bloggers. Yet they always seemed to work for them and not me. It might have been my method of application or perhaps the way I diffuse my hair—it always seemed like the texture it gave my hair was twiggy and dead.

I eventually came across Braes and fell in love with the photography, and the product reviews were all very positive, so I decided to take the leap and ordered some of their products. My package arrived, in a millennial pink branded reusable carton bag with black ribbon handles. Each product is packaged in the same minimalist pink attire, and has its own unique name in French and translated into English, such as “On fait quoi ce soir?” (What are we doing tonight?) shampoo or “Je suis de retour!” (I’m back!) conditioner.

I got the “Shower Pack” which contains a 500 ml shampoo enriched with Argan oil, jojoba oil, sesame oil, macadamia, cold-pressed coconut oil and natural essential oils. In addition to argan oil and macadamia, the 500 ml conditioner also contains sweet almond oil, rose oil and natural essential oils. Both retail at LE 100. The shampoo seemed to be a little bit watery but that is expected when it’s sulfate, paraben and sodium chloride free. It still worked perfectly, leaving me with hair that was softer than usual.

Currently the products available are for oily and all hair types, you can always have a brief consultation with the Br?s team before making your order, to ensure you’re making the right purchase.

The deep conditioning hair mask is infused with heavenly lavender essential oils that managed to keep my hair feeling and smelling fresh long after my styling process. To make styling easier, you should add two drops of their anti-frizz hair serum and you’re good to go. The serum retails at LE 150 and contains natural oils such as macadamia, sweet almond, coconut, sesame, argan, geranium essential oil, bitter orange leaf oil, shea butter and natural essential oils.

The final touch: to freshen up, before going out spray on a little of their all-natural Hydrating Hair Mist (LE 135), which is infused with rosewater, lavender, Kashmir essential oil and palma rosa. It gives your hair that first-day freshness and the small bottle fits perfectly in your bag.

Meeting the Br?s Team:Always staying on brand, Br?s impress not only with their products but through their social media channels, visuals and overall execution. It’s hard to find an Egyptian beauty brand that can compete neck to neck with other indie brands popping up daily in the online beauty community, which is why I wanted to catch up with the founders Amira ElZayat and Yara Saleh. The duo have always been interested in hair, skincare and cosmetics, especially that they, like everybody else, experienced the pain of straighteners, heat and hair dyes. They then eventually found themselves bouncing back to natural remedies. “Ever since I was a kid, my grandma made me love the natural oils and masks made from fruits; she always believed that anything you could eat, you could also feed to your skin and hair,” says ElZayat. Saleh was all for it: I’ve always believed in self-care in all its forms and it just somehow translated to me in terms of beauty products and cosmetics, and this is where Amira and I decided to merge forces.

The pair stared exploring and experimenting at home, watching videos, reading books and studying natural methods in general, but mainly delving into the details of natural oils, which are reflected in their ingredients. After some trial and error, they came up with the perfect formula for hair transformation: products that are safe, clean, vegan-friendly, sulfate, paraben, silicon and cruelty free, and that suit all natural haircare routines. I chat with the girls about their success story.

What encouraged you to start Braes?
We wanted to empower women to stay natural and love themselves, and to be the best version of themselves and know that self-care is not selfish! We wanted to promote self-care as a lifestyle and not just a luxury during one’s free time.

What inspired your current product line?
Hair transformation products for every hair type. We wanted to be user-specific and come up with the perfect formula for all hair types, no matter how many products we will introduce to the market.

What are your favorite ingredients to use in products?
Pure, cosmetic cold-pressed argan oil. We also love experimenting with essential oils for the best aromatic scents.

Can you walk us through the manufacturing process?
All our oils and raw materials are imported, we work on the recipes until they are perfected then approve them with our professional consultant and start the production process with certified factories in compliance with international standards.

Tell us about your latest products.
This season, we launched our summer edition beach hair products including travel-sized packages and our new beach curls magic formula. We are definitely looking to delve into the cosmetics and skincare sector for the winter season as well.
Recently we’re seeing a lot of Egyptian beauty brands on the market. Whether it’s cosmetics, skin or haircare.

Where do you think the Egyptian beauty industry stands today?
Well, it has its ups and downs honestly, as not all natural ingredients are good for different skin and hair types and not all chemicals are harmful. However, we’ve witnessed booming in the past few years in this industry and an even larger rate of awareness of the importance of natural products amongst women.
In fact, we believe that our brand has an authentic identity that sets it apart from everyone else. While there are pretty good products on shelves, we think that our products are the answer to most women’s complaints.

What are your favorite and local/international products to use?
We love Anese brand, Milk makeup and Lush as well! We think they offer a wide range of cruelty-free and natural products, lovely and powerful brand concepts as well as interesting choices of products.

What’s in the future for Braes?
Our goals are to inspire women around the world to reach their goals without letting go of their self-worth. We’re looking forward to branching out into the fields of skincare, cosmetics, and aromatherapy. [We’re looking to] export our products in the Middle East region in the near future, and later on to be sold and shipped across the world. [Ideally, we want] to build a platform including not only products, but also beauty tips, success stories of female icons and eventually make a difference in the industry.

Follow Br?s on Facebook @BraesHair&Skincare and Instagram @Braes.co
10/23/2019 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Source of Beauty]]>
One woman saw this problem and found the solution for it. Lydia Schoonderbeek has founded Egypt’s first online beauty store Source Beauty, which “is a beauty company that is focused on Egyptian millennial price-friendly products that showcase natural and healthy skin.”

In its early phase, Source Beauty was a beauty blog with insightful information about all beauty, skincare and haircare products, from the ingredients to the best way to use them. Taking advantage of the huge interest in HowTo posts, Schoonderbeek gained the trust of her online audience before setting off to sell those products on Source Beauty, turning it into the e-commerce platform it is today.

“My mission is ultimately to decode the often-intimidating beauty world which leaves people in a state of confusion,” says Schoonderbeek, whose platform aims “to inspire the Egyptian female to nourish, enhance, and make the right beauty choices tailored for her. The platform is led by women for women, providing them with the choice to choose local alternatives to their self-care routines, and an opportunity to get their brands known to women, as they source all the region’s best products.”

According to OrbisResearch.com’s Global Cosmetics Products Market-Analysis of Growth, Trends and Forecasts (2018-2023) report, the global cosmetic products market was valued at $532.43 billion in 2017. The value is expected to reach $805.61 billion by 2023, and with the over-60 population segment expected to reach 2.09 billion, the market is set to be even bigger for skincare.

“The Egyptian market is brimming with export-grade skincare and haircare opportunities that are undiscovered locally. My aim is not only to provide an affordable solution for beauty products but also to empower women by educating them and giving them relevant information about what is available in Egypt,” explains Schoonderbeek, whose says her favorite local picks are Areej Aromatherapy, Saskia, Braes and Joviality.

“The beauty industry has turned around and it’s saying, ‘We’re interested in you, your story and your routines.’ We are seeing a shift in consumer demand for more local affordable products, where the customer doesn’t want to comprise on quality,” says the beauty guru who has worked in the luxury fashion industry since she was 16. “I worked at Harvey Nichols, Vivienne Westwood, Dunhill; and more recently, Harrods. The basic requirement that I learnt throughout my work experience in fashion is that personal presentation is non-negotiable. Having good skin, hair that is well-groomed, and being able to apply makeup correctly comes hand in hand with working in this industry.

Moreover, my knowledge has been developed from a general interest in the beauty industry with the psychology that is attached to it. That was taken a step further while I was studying for my MBA at Central Saint Martin’s (London College of Fashion) in London.”

Lydia Schoonderbeek
Lydia Schoonderbeek Founder of Source Beauty

For Source Beauty boxes, Schoonderbeek and her team have selected products and created ready-to-go packages that are accessible to everyone. “The Source Beauty boxes are the ultimate wish list and could be a gift for yourself or to a friend. They are really the perfect kits for glowing, energizing, relaxing and all-around pampering . . . the beauty box is curated in such a way where it makes the perfect gift. We also do customized boxes that help you with certain beauty issues such as a cellulite kit which comes with certain essential oils and creams that help treat this, or a hair growth kit which has a number of essential oils that help stimulate hair growth when applied to the scalp,” she says.

Source Beauty have also created their very own products, such as their powder fragrance, which is introduced as ‘limited edition luxury powder scent . . . lingering clean essence captivating eternal freshness on your skin.’ They have also collaborated with Caroline Beauty and created a line of eight lip and cheek stains which contain Vitamin E, beeswax, jojoba oil, Sasol wax, coconut oil, Shea butter, essential oils, and natural pigments. “Our collaborations are with suppliers with whom we work very closely on branding, scent, colors and packaging. We come up with things we love and develop them further,” explains Schoonderbeek who reveals that Source Beauty is planning on “growth and expansion” in the future.

With Fall around the corner, the beauty expert tells us how to best prepare our skin for the transition. “Get a facial, wear SPF, and try to go a few days without makeup. And of course what you eat is key, your skin reacts wonderfully when you eat and sleep properly.” When it comes to which ingredients to work into your diet, Schoonderbeek preaches “Vitamin C, Vitamin C, Vitamin C and retinol during the colder months.”

Visit Source Beauty at www.sourcebeauty.me and on Facebook:@sourcebeauty and Instagram: @source_beauty
10/22/2019 6:55:36 PM
<![CDATA[Zero-Waste Summers]]>
The Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) was founded in 2002 to provide guidance and set the standards for a waste-free world, according to ZWIA.org. The ZIWA Planning Group adopted the first peer-reviewed, internationally accepted definition of zero waste in 2004 as “the conservation of all resources by means of responsible production, consumption, reuse, and recovery of products, packaging, and materials without burning and with no discharges to land, water, or air that threaten the environment or human health.”

Continuing our sustainable living series, Egypt Today talks with Eman Mossallam, the founder of @zerowaste.egypt, the Instagram platform where she documents her journey to achieving a zero-waste life. Mossallam’s goals are to create much-needed awareness, while educating her audience with the correct information after years of trials.

“I’ve always been passionate about the environment, but I was hooked since I first heard about the zero-waste lifestyle a few years ago through an interview with Bea Johnson, the mother of zero-waste living on Ahmed AlShugairi’s Ramadan show Khawater. I started researching and reading more about the topic, and it didn’t take long before I [started] to change my life for the better.”

Johnson, who is also known as the “Priestess of Waste-Free Living,” has been a key player in the waste-free community. Her blog-turned-book has earned her worldwide recognition among environmentalists and others as she has brought down her family’s waste to one liter per year. Her book Zero Waste Home offers “hundreds of easy tips for sustainable living that even the busiest people can integrate: from making your own mustard, to packing kids’ lunches without plastic, to canceling your junk mail, to enjoying the holidays without the guilt associated with over consumption.”

A strong social media presence is key to influencing younger generations as they are the ones who can make a difference, not only because they want to, but because they understand how critical the situation can get if we don’t start making changes, explains Mossallam. “I wanted to reach future generations, hoping to inspire them to become positive change makers,” she says, adding that she wants “to reach the largest number of people possible, to be able to give them the know-how to change their daily habits, choices for a more sustainable, low carbon footprint.”

Mossallam continues that back in 2018, Egypt’s Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy stated that 80 million tons of garbage is collected each year in Egypt. Yet each year, people who live a waste-free life have proven that it is possible to cut down on waste consumption enough so that their waste fits in a Mason jar. We all can cut down on our waste easily and achieve effective results, Mossallam advises, if we “purchase less, buy things of good quality so they can last a lifetime, use what you already have and borrow what you don’t. Make sure you know that waste comes in many forms; it’s not just plastic that we’re fighting against. A zero-waste lifestyle aims to less, zero-waste in food, water, resources, money, time, and so on.”

Mossallam’s response when we asked her if the shift in lifestyle was hard is, “Absolutely not! There are a lot of changes you’ll have to make, start with the easiest ones to you and don’t cripple yourself by putting impossible targets that you might not achieve when you’re just starting your journey.” Other small changes one can adapt is to “take shorter showers, eat less meat, pack your lunch, coffee, tea and so on for work, school or university. Don’t waste food, buy local produce, buy less clothes, buy second hand. The options are endless.”

Mossallam currently lives in Dublin, Ireland, with her husband and cocker spaniel Milo. She has lived a waste-free life here in Egypt and in Dublin, and believes that a misconception most people have is that it is difficult to live a waste-free life in Egypt. “I have to say it’s much easier going zero-waste in Egypt.

Than it is in Dublin. Most, if not all, of our produce in Egypt is local and package free. The abundance of local souqs and attarin spice stores in Egypt makes buying in bulk a breeze.”

Because packaged food in supermarkets carries a higher price than that sold by street vendors, most Egyptians have the luxury of opting for fresh produce. It is also a lot cheaper to eat home-cooked meals than ordering takeout, and also wastes less time considering that the delivery time is a lot longer than the cooking process.

When it comes to sharing the waste-free lifestyle with friends and family, Mossallam says that “the key is not to force your lifestyle on anyone, but to lead by example. My husband has been more than supportive about this and has tagged along since day one. I always talk to him about what I read and the findings I’ve reached and keep him involved in every step. . . . The point is we have to minimize our consumption, leading to less waste to deal with. Follow the 5 Rs in this exact order: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot.”

When it comes to implementing waste-free plans within specific entities such as hotels, restaurants, and other corporations, a lot can be done, says Mossallam “from refill shampoo, conditioner, and soap dispensers instead of disposable ones, and charging hotel guests for food waste; providing refill water stations instead of single use plastic water bottles; applying motion detection light sensors; the switches are endless.”

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?????? ??????? ???? . ?? . Shopping #plasticfree might not be as easy as you think if you're not prepared. This is an example of a trip to the grocery store with my #reusable string bags. They help me avoid not only the #plastic shopping bags, but the plastic bags used for fruits and veggies How do you avoid plastic when shopping? Share your experience in the comments down below ???? For orders, please send me a DM . ?? . ?? ???? ?? ?????? ????? ? ??? ???? ?????? ? ???????. ????? ??? ??????? ?????? ?????? ??????/????? ????? ??????? ??????? ?????????. ?????? ??????? ??? ????? ??????? ??????????? ? ???? ??????? ??????? ?? ???????? ???? ??????? ??????? ????? ??? ??????? . #ZEROWASTEEGYPT

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Tips for a Waste-Free Holiday
1. Avoid traveling by plane and opt for trains, buses, or cars when or if possible.
2. Pack your reusables with you, you’ll need them.
3. Don’t forget to opt for natural sunscreen, which won’t affect marine life and contaminate the sea or ocean.
4. If you’re staying at a hotel, skip on housekeeping services, some hotels will even give you points on your loyalty card for doing so.
5. Try to make a habit of picking up any plastic, debris, trash that’s already there (on the beach or anywhere).
6. Do not throw any cigarette butts on the beach! They’re made of plastic and will affect marine life.
7. Travel light, don’t overpack and try to avoid buying new things on your vacation. Make memories and take lots of photos instead.

Follow? Zero?Waste?Egypt ?on ?Facebook ?and? Instagram ?@zerowaste.egypt.?You? can?shop ?for ?essential? reusable,?sustainable,?lifestyle?products?@zerowaste.egypt,?where?you’ll?find?reusable? string ?net ?shopping ?and ?produce ?bags,?as ?well ?as ?reusable? cotton? rounds ?for?makeup ?removal. ?All ?products?are? handmade? in ?Egypt?and?are? 100 ?percent ?cotton.
8/30/2019 5:26:45 PM
<![CDATA[On The Rails]]>million in January, as the train remains considered an easy and comfortable means of transport for traveling round the country independently. Yet, the system does
not come without errors.

Seeking to relieve crowds at the station, and to avoid queues outside ticket kiosks, the Ministry of Transport officially launched a new application in October 2018 that would help users book their ride via mobile phones for the first

Egypt’s first railway line was established in1851; and since then, booking tickets has always been through ticket booths, requiring passengers to head to the station hours before their trip’s departure time to save seats. A website was available in recent years for online bookings, but it would often crash and was criticised for
not being user-friendly.

The new free application, its name in English translating to “Egypt Trains – Booking and Inquiries,” is considered one of the latest bids in the government’s move for the digital transformation of services, aiming to relieve the ordeals often involved in the booking process, especially for people using the trains on a frequent basis to commute for work across different governorates.

Assigned to be the application’s developer, Transport Information Technology CO (TransIT) has introduced it for Android users, and is working to adapt the service to other operating systems, like IOS. The application has attracted around 80,915 users thus far, while the total number of people who installed the app hit 210,371, the company announced.

By installing the app, booking tickets will become at travelers’ fingertips, and they will conclude the process through their phones by creating profiles, following registration steps and paying by credit cards.

The new application does not replace standard ticket purchases at the stations.

Assigned to be the application’s developer, Transport Information Technology CO (TransIT) has introduced it for Android users, and is working to adapt the service to other operating systems, like IOS. The application has attracted around 80,915 users thus far, while the total number of people who installed the app hit 210,371, the company announced.

By installing the app, booking tickets will become at travelers’ fingertips, and they will conclude the process through their phones by creating profiles, following registration steps and paying by credit cards.

The new application does not replace standard ticket purchases at the stations.

E-booking experience

Currently available only in Arabic language, the application asks users to create a registered profile by entering their names and national ID numbers. Users who already have accounts on the Egyptian National Railways Authority’s website will not need to sign up again.

Users need to enter their visa card number, through which they will electronically purchase the tickets, after selecting precise dates and seat numbers.

The application allows users to make complaints and to leave recommendations for better service. Each passenger can book up to four tickets, with their names added to the tickets.

The application asks users to approve a list of conditions and regulations, which include that the main passenger should be the owner of the visa card used in the booking process, or that the ticket holder should be one of his/her relatives. Then users determine the arrival and departure stations, the date and time of travel, the train class and the number of seats.

Screenshots of the new booking application

Passengers are charged registration dues, estimated at 4%, added to ticket prices booked via the application. After booking, passengers are emailed a summary of the reservation receipt and details, which they print out before taking their train so
the collectors can review them.

Upgrading system

Chairman and CEO of TransIT Khaled Attiyah tells Business Today Egypt in a phone interview that a new version of the application will be out within the upcoming two months, after amendments are applied in response to users’ comments and recommendations. Available for use across all parts of Egypt, the booking application will be translated into the

English language to help non-Arabic speakers book tickets, especially as some tourists have already used the application with the help of Egyptians who have it installed on their phones.

The new amendments include removing unnecessary booking steps, and enabling seat
selection, according to Attiyah, who says that more features will be added to facilitate the e-booking experience, like tracking the train journeys and providing live information about the trips. “Tickets purchased via the application will have the names of the passengers printed on them, an important feature that has never existed in the standard purchasing system, which will help the Egyptian National Railways Authority to counter black markets,” explains Attiyah.

The Egyptian National Railways Authority has incurred losses of billions of pounds, largely due to the sale of tickets on the black market.The authority’s losses during the 2017/2018 financial year were estimated at LE10 billion, according to Abdel Naby Mansour, an official at the Ministry of Finance, during a testimony at

Although the application has been installed thousands of times, a number of citizens randomly polled by Business Today Egypt said they had never heard of it. Some of those who installed the application have used it only to check seats and trip schedules, rather than to book tickets.

TransIT CEO Attiyah says that the company has a plan in the works to advertise the application and explain its features to the public. Egypt has a comprehensive plan to upgrade all aspects of the Egyptian railway system, including the infrastructure, tractors, signals and train carriages, with a total cost of LE55 billion for a 5-year overhaul program. Attiyah further added that the company is involved in the government’s overhaul plan, which the new booking app is a part of.

One of the challenges that might be facing such apps in Egypt would be the e-payment culture, as many Egyptians are not yet willing to use their credit cards online for purchasing. The government has been consistently pushing to digitize services to keep up with the electronic payment wave that is taking over the world.

Egyptians are advised through TV advertisements to turn to e-payment and mobile cash instead of standard payment methods. Among the recent bids was installing more than six million pre-paid electricity meters across the country, targeting raising the figure to 20 million within 10 years.
Screenshots of the new booking application
7/27/2019 11:55:24 AM
<![CDATA[Go Clean: Pioneering Household Recycling]]>
The secret behind Go Clean’s quick success is that clients are offered something in return for their recyclables. The company has marketed itself as a way to increase one’s income; where all you have to do is separate your plastic, paper and metal recyclables. Then, you contact them to pick up your items whenever you are free. Your recyclables are weighed and you get to choose whether you want cash in return, make a donation or swap for household cleaning products.

Go Clean bins make the separation process easier for the consumers, also using biodegradable plastic bags for each type of recyclables.

All items are then sent to certified factories to be recycled. Paper is deinked and turned into lesser quality paper or cardboard. Cans are melted and turned back to aluminum. As for plastic, it is broken down and turned to polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or polypropylene.

Go Clean founder Hamdy believes that consumers’ buying and waste habits in Egypt are on the right track. “People are so encouraged to help our environment by recycling and are really so supportive of our initiative as we get so many daily orders from householders, universities, schools, cafes, restaurants, factories, and more,” he says, adding, “so many companies and huge entities contact us to help them go clean and green. We also get many volunteers who are willing to help us in any activity just to help save their environment and country. People share and report our content to spread the word and allow everyone to know about Go Clean. Finally, we receive so many motivational messages that really help and leave us wanting to achieve more and more.”

Concerning where Egypt’s waste-free and up-cycling industries stand today, Hamdy says, “Egypt has been struggling with waste disposal problem for years. But we think that Egypt is trying to take actual steps towards recycling and towards a cleaner Egypt.” He notes that the Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad has expressed the government’s aim to recycle 80 percent of garbage within seven years, and that Egyptian MP Anisa Hassouna submitted a proposal to the Egyptian Cabinet in June to ban single-use plastic bags. “So hopefully, we can watch the results come in soon!” Hamdy says.

The Go Clean founder also shared with us some tips on how to minimize waste. “You can avoid buying frozen foods because their packaging is mostly plastic; even those that appear to be in cardboard are coated in a thin layer of plastic, Hamdy says, advising to always choose cardboard over plastic bottles and bags and to opt out of using plastic straws. “Simple choices can greatly impact our environment,” he says.

Speaking on where Egypt’s waste-free and up-cycling industries stand today, Hamed says, “Egypt has been struggling with a waste disposal problem for years. But we think that Egypt is trying to take actual steps towards recycling and towards a cleaner Egypt, as the Environment Minister Yassmin Fouad stressed that her ministry seeks to recycle 80 percent of garbage within seven years. Also, Egyptian MP Anisa Hassouna has submitted a proposal to ban single-use plastic bags to the Cabinet of Egypt, along with the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Minister of Environment and Industry, on Monday 10 June. So hopefully we can watch the results come in soon!”

Discussing consumer’s buying and waste habits, we ask Hamed believes we are we on the right track. “As people are so encouraged to help our environment by recycling and they are really so supportive to our initiative as we get so many orders daily from householders, universities, schools, cafes, restaurants, and factories. A lot of people support our work, which keeps us driven to achieve more and more.”

Expansion is the Go Clean founder’s goal, and he seeks to eventually reach anyone and everyone. “We are now covering Cairo, Giza and Alexandria and more governorates are definitely in our future plan… We are also designing a Go Clean application to make everything easier and faster for our clients,” Hamed says.

GoClean operates all over Alexandria. In Cairo they pick up from Heliopolis, Ain Shams, Sheraton, Nasr City, Gisr El-Suez, Moqattam, Abassia, New Cairo, Sherouk, Madinaty, Sixth of October Sheikh Zayed, Haram, Maadi, Zamalek, Mohandessin, Dokki, Dontown, Manyal, Shobra and Maahad Nasser.

For more information call +20106 666 6555, Whatsapp +20106 666 6555 or email: info@gocleaneg.com
7/12/2019 3:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[EgyEcoLand: Your Go-To For Green News, Info & Tips]]>

When did your interest in waste-free living first start?
I got interested in an eco-friendly lifestyle after I moved to Egypt. I noticed that all the retailers here hand me plastic bags for free and use them excessively. In Ukraine, if you need one, you should pay for it. That’s why a lot of people there choose to reuse the old ones. I once watched a video of one Ukrainian zero-waste blogger who was doing her grocery shopping without any plastic bags. Since then, my life has changed; I’ve started trying to reduce the consumption of plastic bags as much as I can.

Irena: My interest started with healthy eating and cooking. I realized the importance of knowing what goes into the food we eat and wanted to reduce the amount of chemicals and pesticides entering my body. The realization that the pesticide-laced food we eat, the polluted air we breathe and all the chemical-based products we use daily negatively affect our quality of life gave me a push to do something about it.

Kateryna: The first time I felt really concerned about the topic was when watched the documentary Before The Flood featuring Leonardo Di Caprio, who was designated a UN Messenger Of Peace. I was astonished to find out that people knew about climate change decades before I was even born; and still, they did nothing significant to stop it. Of course, it is all a matter of money and power. When I moved to Egypt, I was surprised by the amount of plastic bags I was given at the supermarkets, so I started refusing them automatically and packed the products the way it was convenient for me while using less plastic bags, or I refused plastic bags completely in certain cases. Then, seeing people littering in the streets and in transport was absolutely heartbreaking, so I started thinking that it would be great to do something about it. So, I started commenting on my friends’ habits that were not sustainable. Then, the girls and I came up with the idea of EgyEcoLand.

Where did the idea of a social media platform come from?
In our perspective, the root cause of the current environmental situation in Egypt lays in two dimensions: the government and citizens. We can’t change the government’s policies at the moment, especially since the government is launching a lot of initiatives to change the situation. But we can always reach out to people and raise their environmental awareness, helping them adopt eco-friendly habits and providing them with support, as it is always easier to do something when you are not alone. The digital era we are now living in now offers the easiest way to reach people—social media. Therefore, we started with two commonly used platforms; and it was the right choice. Day by day, our following grows, so we are able to reach more and more people.

What’s your main goal?
EgyEcoLand’s main goal is raising environmental awareness, providing Egypt’s residents with information on all aspects of eco-friendly lifestyle and creating a community of like-minded people to give them support and inspiration to change their habits and become more eco-conscious. We believe that once 10 percent of population is driven by one idea, this idea will spread further to reach the other 90 percent of people

What tips do you have for people who want to minimize their plastic usage and waste?
The main advice on how to minimize plastic usage is to refuse as many disposable plastic products as you can. It is harmful to our health, as most types of plastic release carcinogenic chemicals, especially when in contact with hot food and liquids. A lot of people think that all plastic can be recycled. In fact, not all types of plastic are recyclable; and if it’s mixed with carton or metal (for example, Tetra Pak packaging, “paper” cups, some types of food packaging, and so on), it makes it [paper] very difficult to recycle as these layers have to be separated. There are a lot of alternatives to all the disposable items like metal straws, travel mugs, cotton bags etc. If you can’t refuse something, try to reuse it; as long as it’s not harmful to your health. [For example], plastic water bottles are made of PET plastic and are not recommended to be reused. People can learn about all types of plastic, their recyclability and alternatives from our posts.

Where do you think waste-free and up-cycling industries in Egypt stand today?
In our opinion, the waste free industry is at its initial stage of development. There are a lot of things that need to be done to grow and develop the eco mentality and change people’s habits. To start with, people should know what types of waste they produce; and only then, can they start reducing it. Now, most people don’t think about it—everything goes into one trash bin, people are used to many things being done in a certain way (for example, ordering takeaway food that comes over packed with unnecessary disposable cutlery); and no one thinks it could be done differently.

On the other hand, we are very positive that this [waste-free] trend is developing, and we meet more and more people who are concerned and aim to reduce their waste step by step. There are also several organizations that upcycle waste and turn it into beautiful products, and we are quite certain there are more organizations or maybe even individuals who do upcycling projects and should be known and supported.

Do you believe that consumers’ buying and waste habits can change for the better?
To be honest, it’s hard to be a conscious customer in Egypt, as every retailer and every restaurant tries to provide their “best” service by offering a lot of things for free and when you want to refuse it can be awkward. But the conscious lifestyle is becoming a mainstream around the world, and Egypt is no exception. It may take several years before most people change their habits, but we are sure that one day it will happen.

Summer is here and people will be traveling and heading out to the beach. What is the best, environmentally friendly way to travel this summer?
We would recommend to carpool or use public transport in order to decrease carbon dioxide emissions; take your own flask/mug and refill it whenever you can instead of buying water in plastic bottles; bring your own toiletries when traveling to avoid using the ones provided by the hotels, as soap packed in paper is no worse than shower gel and takes up much less space. Do not print your tickets or hotel booking confirmations unless it is absolutely required—you can always show your reservation on the mobile; try staying in eco-friendly hotels… Most importantly, people should not leave trash at the beach and should try to pick it up when they see any.

Do you have any travelling or packing tips that people can follow this summer?
In general, we would like to advise minimizing your carbon footprint by flying less or at least flying non-stop, as well as buying carbon offset. The longer the distance, the more efficient flying becomes because cruising requires less fuel than other flight stages. Around 25 percent of airplane emissions come from landing and taking off. By buying carbon offset, people put money towards replanting trees, which absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

When choosing a hotel, check the reviews to see whether the hotel is eco-friendly or not. Get reusable small bottles for your toiletries and refill them every time before travelling, so you don’t have to use the ones provided by the hotels. Do not use hotel toiletries if you don’t really need them. Remember to bring your toothbrush and toothpaste, so that you don’t have to get a new one every time.

1. Use your towel for several days, don’t leave it on the floor as in many hotels it’s a sign that you want it to be replaced.

2. Check if the tap water is drinkable in the country you are going to, and pack your reusable water bottle, it will save you money and reduce your plastic usage.

3. Take your travel mug and use it to order takeaway drinks, you can also get a cutlery travel kit that you can use instead of disposable cutlery when you order takeaway food.

4. Use public transport instead of taxis or rented cars—it’s very convenient in most countries, cheaper and obviously more eco-friendly. Buy gifts that are guaranteed to be useful. Make sure you only buy souvenirs people will be happy to receive. Otherwise, don’t get them.

What plans do you have for EgyEcoLand?
Our goal for 2019 is to create a website where all our posts will be translated into Arabic to reach a wider audience. Another goal is to start cooperating with schools, universities and companies to conduct various workshops for them. We are planning to run a campaign aimed at encouraging local producers and retailers to reduce and gradually refuse plastic packaging. We are also planning to organize more street cleanups in Cairo and hope that more people will join us.

Do Your Part: easy ways to minimize waste
There are many ways we can reduce our consumption if we follow the “5R” concept, which refers to the well-known 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), and can be widened further by following the following steps:

- REFUSE: Say no to things you do not really need, even if they are given to you for free.
- REDUCE: Change your consumption habits. Buy things that are only absolutely necessary. Look for products without any packaging or the ones that can be recycled. Get one product that can be used over and over again instead of large amounts of it.
- REUSE: Use the same item more than once instead of disposing it right away. Repair broken things instead of purchasing new ones.
- REPURPOSE: Give old material a new purpose. Be creative.
- RECYCLE: Waste can be recycled and used again in production. It requires far less resources than producing a new material. Make sure your waste is being collected by Zabbaleen (Garbage Collectors), or contact one of the recycling companies to collect it from you on a regular basis.

In Photo: EgypEcoLand team. Courtesy of EgyEcoLand

If you’d like to learn how to live eco-friendly in Egypt, you’ll find over 400 posts on different aspects of sustainable living on the Facebook and Instagram pages of @egyecoland. For specific information, you can use the hashtag #EgyEcoLand_... and add a keyword, for example #EgyEcoLand_Plastic, #EgyEcoLand_Food, etc. A list of hashtags and the most popular questions from followers can be found in the stories highlights.]]>
7/11/2019 12:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Summer Edit: Nile Eyewear Creative, Exclusive &100% Egyptian]]>

Having decided to leave his career in real estate and do something different, Hamdi was in and ready for a new challenge. “I wanted to do the most difficult thing; and that is eyewear,” he recalls, adding, “Production of the glasses took from six months to one year. We then officially launched [the brand] in the market in 2014.”

Pointing out that at the time it was a new idea in the Middle East to go into a one brand glasses store, or even an Egyptian one, Hamdi says, “I was doing something new. It wasn’t normal to go into a store and find only one brand for eyewear. There were always different brands from different countries displayed.”

Not willing to wait for the customers to find them, Nile Eyewear began exhibiting at events and malls all around Egypt, to introduce the brand to the public. “We started our pop-up shops in Sahel in the summer of 2015; and in Arkan in 2016.” Today, they have traveled around the world and showcased their glasses in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bali, Hamdi says.

Having mastered the business of eyewear, Nile Details was soon to be born; a sister accessories brand offering a new collection of exclusive designs every 18 months. Nile Details collections include high-quality leather products ranging from wallets to backpacks, travel and waist bags, laptop covers and clutches, even leather bracelets and cuffs for style. “We created the brand after we had received positive feedback and found that the public trusts our brand and is looking for a bigger variety, with our same high quality,” Hamdi says, adding that “the dream is to be available in every country and to change people’s misconceptions about Egypt’s fashion industry and quality standards.” He refers to the Egyptian stigma of imported products being of better quality.

Now you can visit Nile Eyewear at: Arkan Mall, Capital Business Park, Mall of Arabia phase 2, Mall of Egypt, Downtown Mall. “The reason we pick pocket stores is because we aren’t available everywhere, the collections are constantly changing,” Hamdi says, continuing, “this is all in order to create exclusivity and maintain quality... only creating limited quantities of each piece.”

Follow them on Facebook and Instagram: @NileEyewear and @NileDetails
7/11/2019 2:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Mobikya: The Trash Designers ]]>
As the disposal of rubber waste is a serious ecological problem, upcycling tires has a greatly positive impact on the environment. Founded by Ibrahim A. Abougendy, also known as the “Trash Designer”, Mobikya is a green interior design studio and firm that up-cycles old rubber tires into furniture, from tables to chairs and even beds.

During his final year studying architecture, Abougendy started to wonder if up-cycling was the solution to the excessive waste problem and a way to fulfill consumers’ need for everyday sustainably made products. “Building unique spaces for people is cool but being sustainable and utilizing my design eye and knowledge to transform solid waste into a product that people and the environment would love [was my goal],” Abougendy says. Lacking the financial capacity to use solid waste in architecture, he decided to switch to smaller units; and after trying with plastic containers and wooden pallets, Abougendy selected tires.

When it comes to sourcing tires, it is safe to say that there isn’t a shortage of any kind; tires are easy and cheap to buy, as they are frequently dumped in junk yards and landfills. The issue, however, is more about quality control for Abougendy. “After working with tires for three years, we developed a certain criteria to pick and source [them]… to transform them into a product that suits the specific tire,” he says.

Yet sticking to high-quality tires comes at a cost. “We increase our prices quarterly for buying materials from suppliers; that’s how you keep them dedicated enough to source materials that Mobikya needs according to the updated specifications,” Abougendy says. “Our goal is to gather tires end-to-end from clients, and involve them in the process of exchanging their wastes with products.”

The tires are always a significant part in Mobikya’s designs. “We, as designers, always prioritize the tire to be apparent in our products. We find that seeing the tire in the final product would make the customers wonder about the most worthwhile way to deal with his or her waste,” Abougendy explains. Their R&D department works tirelessly to develop special paints and coatings and other innovations, and every collection is a bit more advanced. “Maybe one day, our clients won’t see tires but they will know that a tire was the reason why they are swinging comfortably,” the innovative founder contends.

With a range of more than 15 products, Abougendy created the ‘Tire House’, the main design element being tires throughout the entire home. “We wanted to design an immersive living room experience,” Abougendy tells Egypt Today. And after a month of trial and error, Abougendy transformed strong car speakers into a sound system, using rubber tires instead of the more common wooden boxes. “The properties of the rubber material improves the acoustics of sound,” Abougendy says. “The sound system… turned out to be very immersive, not only in the music mood, but also when watching a movie; the balance between music, sound effects and VO is awesome while sitting on ‘Hubbly Bubbly’ chair or a sofa,” Abougendy adds, referring to another invention by Mobikya often alternatively dubbed the ‘Living Chair’. The chair’s elasticity helps users sit back while still in motion, not putting all the concentration on their back, so it is even more healthy to sit on it for longer hours than ordinary chairs. The chair could reportedly last up to 20 years, and Mobikya offers a replacement for free in the unlikely case that the chair is destroyed in the first year. When asked about who he sees as his ideal clientele, Abougendy says, “I want people who think that the green hype and climate change are not real. When they interacts with our products, I want that to educate them. After the client tries the product… he will love it like a pet, he will search, he will see facts; and then, he will be aware.”

Although he believes that the “up-cycling trend is not prevalent yet” in Egypt, Abougendy says, “I see we have an increasing number of mature companies offering unique products. Accelerators and VCs begin to emerge in the green sector… I see leading potential in Egypt’s participation to global up-cycling.”

He also stresses that it is important for people to include up-cycled and reusable products into their daily lives, as the smallest contribution can still make a difference. “Each of the 7 billion people living on the planet matter. Their daily habits matter. [If] all of them decided not to use plastic straws for a day, we would save 50 million straws. If all of them stopped buying wooden furniture, we would save thousands of trees. If all of them used electric vehicles, 500 million oil barrels moving daily across the world would stop. The planet is dying, and every person should do his part,” Abougendy notes.

Mobikya is currently working on a collection of innovative mirrors. “Golden geometry in the main ambient of crafting circular mirrors with detailed elegance. I think [in the case of] these mirrors specifically, most people when they see them they don’t know if they are tires or another material.” With a vision for circular economy, Mobikya has also partnered with the online retail platform TheRealReal; where secondhand Stella McCartney purchases are rewarded with $100 credit to be used at the brand’s own stores. This prevents unwanted pieces from ending up in landfills and eliminates waste. It also drives up in-store and online purchases of the new collections. Mobikya is working on launching a similar service soon.

Follow Mobikya on: Facebook and Instagram @Mobikya
7/10/2019 12:05:00 PM
<![CDATA[An Easy Guide to the No-makeup Makeup Look]]>By Loujina Mounir

The days of heavy contouring, pioneered by Kim Kardashian and her long-time makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic, are far behind us. For years, beauty bloggers and makeup aspirers flooded our social media accounts with harsh, drawn-up lines of contouring in the hopes of achieving cheekbones that you can spot from miles away. For summer 2019, the go-to look instead is natural skin, bushy eyebrows, and cream blush. The no-makeup makeup look is the new trend in the beauty world. Celebrities and bloggers alike are striving to enhance their natural beauty with makeup, rather than chiseling out their cheekbones and changing their face structures completely.

Although the au-natural, I just woke-up-like-this-look has been rocked by countless celebrities, it’s not as natural as it looks. The key to achieving the new trend is layering, very, very thin layering. If you’ve been watching countless online tutorials and still can’t achieve the barely-there makeup look you want, here are some tips that will help you nail it.

Natural skin naturally has some glow to it, so avoid going for a heavy coverage matte base. Try using a tinted moisturizer or a very thin layer of foundation on top of your daily moisturizer. As you layer, make sure to use a very light touch. Use a small amount in the beginning and then add more to the areas that may need slightly more help. Make sure to blend every layer into your skin as best as you can, to help your makeup look natural. Whether you use a tinted moisturizer or a foundation, make sure to be sparse and blend, blend, blend. Using a beauty sponge will help flawlessly blend in your base and pick up any extra product left on your skin, further enlacing the natural skin look. The idea is not to cover all your flaws. If you’re blessed with freckles, beauty marks, and such, don’t try to hide it. They help you achieve a youthful look. Besides, having them makes you unique, so flaunt it!

Put away your powders and reach for your cream products. Cream-based products such as cream blush, cream highlighter, and even cream bronzers will help you achieve the natural glow. Continue to use your beauty sponge to apply these cream products, avoiding any harsh lines and ensuring that you’re applying the thinnest layers you possibly can. Powders build up on your skin and can easily look cakey. For those of you who have oily skin though, only powder the areas where it is necessary, like the T-zone and the areas that may build up oil surrounding your nose.

Drop the tweezers, I Repeat, drop the tweezers! Thicker, fuller, messier brows really enhance the natural makeup look and your face a far more youthful look. Take Cara Delevingne for example; goals right? If you absolutely must tweeze your eyebrows, try not to create a harsh shape, leave some flyways here and there. If you have sparse brows, use your favorite eyebrow product to fill them in ever so slightly, then follow with a clear brow gel to keep them in place. If you’re blessed with naturally full-shaped brows, skip the brow powder and only use brow gel.

Rather than going for liquid or matte lipstick, try going for a more creamy lipstick or lip-gloss to help your lips look plump and youthful. Or skip lipstick altogether, and exfoliate your lips to give them a natural, pink flush. Follow with your favorite lip balm to bring moisture back into your lips.

7/10/2019 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Tourists’ cup of tea]]>
Bandung city attracts tourists from all over the world for its beautiful scenery and breathtaking aromas of locally grown tea plants - Samar Samir/Egypt Today

For years, another Asian country has been drawing in visitors attracted by its thriving tea industry. As one of the world’s largest tea producers, Indonesia is known for its vast and charming tea plantation fields. Just a two-hour drive from the capital, Bandung city attracts tourists from all over the world for its beautiful scenery and breathtaking aromas of locally grown tea plants.

Among the most beautiful are the Rancabali tea plantations in south Bandung. The volcanic highlands are a piece of green heaven, with the plantations covering around 3,000 acres, including 1,500 acres for tea plants and 150 acres for coffee, while the rest of the land is a tourist destination.

Bandung city attracts tourists from all over the world for its beautiful scenery and breathtaking aromas of locally grown tea plants - Samar Samir/Egypt Today

Indonesia’s big tea plantations are mostly run by state-owned companies, such as PT Perkebunan Nusantara Holding company (PTPN) VIII. Rancabali plantations produce two kinds of black tea: Orthodox and CTC, harvested in three ways: via machines, a pair of scissors and handpicking, says Nanda Fauz Iwan, director of PTPN VIII of Rancabali.

To turn the green tea to black, green leaves are exposed to fresh air for 10 to 12 hours, before they are cut with machines and left for 80 to 120 minutes, and then are transported to a drying machine for 15 minutes, PTPN vice president of plant types division Luga Kadarisman explains. He adds that the natural sugary substance of the tea helps turn the leaves into a dark black pigmentation during the drying process. The final process is to ensure the quality of smell, taste, color and shape of the tea.

Bandung city attracts tourists from all over the world for its beautiful scenery and breathtaking aromas of locally grown tea plants - Samar Samir/Egypt Today

After a tour around the vast green lands of Rancabali, where visitors watch the workers reap tea leaves, tourists usually head to Pinisi Restaurant in Ciwidey, 50 km southern Bandung, for lunch. The restaurant is designed to look like a huge ship, surrounded with greenery and overseeing the beautiful resort Glamping Lakeside Rancabali.

Driving north for 30 minutes, you arrive at Kawah Putih (White Crater) where you can enjoy a panoramic view of turquoise evaporating crater water, surrounded by the green mountains surrounding the tea plantation.

PTPN exports black, green, and white tea to the U.S., Canada, the UK, Europe, and Malaysia, Netherlands, Afghanistan and Singapore, Australia and Russia; and indirectly to the Middle East through traders, according to Kadarisman. In 2018, PTPN owned 30,200 hectares all over Indonesia, while the whole tea plantations in the country make up 110,000 acres. It has 28 factories for Orthodox tea producing 62,000 tons annually.

CTC’s 11 factories produce 13,400 tons annually, while one factory produces 3.6 tons of white tea every year, Kadarisman says.]]>
7/9/2019 3:07:23 PM
<![CDATA[Faces of Egypt’s Home Creators: Eklego Design]]>

You can see their contemporary-meets-Nubian fusion in their masterpiece of a Nile Dahabiya boat, and they’ve proven they can do industrial modern just as well as contemporary and luxurious in their design for Mince Restaurant in Arkan. They also left signatures in Aperitivo Bar and Restaurant, Gourmet shops, and Ted’s restaurant. But our personal favorite, and one that truly captures their effortlessly chic essence and simplicity is their work on Left Bank, Zamalek.

In celebration of the International Women’s Day, we chatted with the two ladies behind Eklego Design, co-founders Dina El Khachab and Hedayet Islam to talk about the business of creating beautiful spaces and what it’s like to run one of the most successful interior design firms in Egypt, particularly one with solid female leadership. The third partner who came on board later on and is now the retail business unit leader is also a lady; Heba El Gabaly.

El Khachab and Islam have both received numerous awards for their work; El Khachab holds two architecture degrees from McGill University in Montreal and Islam studied interior design at the New York School of Interior Design.

Starting with only a staff of three; Islam, Kahachab and Fathy, the office boy, worked from Islam’s grandmother’s dining room. Today, they grew into a team of 72 people with two showrooms in Cairo and plan for the third in the upcoming months, with services ranging from furniture to home, office, retail and hospitality designs. Having worked on 700 projects, they have perfected the art of combining modern techniques and designs while utilizing traditional crafts to achieve their own blend of furniture and interior design.


How has your partnership helped the business succeed and how do you divide the tasks between you?
Khachab: There’s been a lot of different phases for Eklego and for all of us. We started off as two freelance designers, offering certain services and it developed into a business. From the interior design service business, it developed into a retail shop; they’re actually very different types of businesses. Four years later, we partnered with a third person, Heba El Gabaly who basically managed the retail to build it to where it is today. That helped, of course; retail is a very heavy-operations business and [the] marketing interior design is a little bit more based on the actual designers. If you don’t have the [right] designers, you won’t build into that business people would want to come back to.

In 2013, the original founder [Islam] left to London for family reasons and now works part-time. My other partner moved to Dubai almost a year and a half ago…now I’m doing both business and creative with a team of 72 people. I have to wear both hats; the hat of retail and that of interior design, as well as the manager of interior design… as we grew, I took the more formal role in the business part of interior design, Heba [Gabaly] took the retail and Heddy [Islam] took the projects.

So it does help having a partner; I think it’s extremely crucial.
These are personal decisions, however, and some people really like working on their own; for me, I get a lot of inspiration from people. I think it’s extremely exciting to wake up everyday and come up with new ideas with people.

Islam: Finding a partner that you trust and have good chemistry with is rare, but once you do, then nothing is more effective at propelling a company forward. I started on my own in 1997, but once I met Dina [Khachab] and we started working together three years later, Eklego really started to take shape as a proper design company. By 2005, we opened our first retail shop and again, it was propelled forward by two other partners, Hala Said, who worked diligently on building Eklego’s brand name and then Heba El Gabaly, who joined us in 2008, and really pushed the company’s retail arm.


What are some challenging obstacles that you have faced in your career?
Balancing the family-versus-work formula.

What is the biggest project that you worked on and are proud of?
Forty West was a really big project for us with Sodic, where we created fully finished luxury apartments on a mass scale.

Islam: Forty West as well, it is a commercial project and a large residential house overlooking the pyramids. There are also quite a few Eklego products that we are equally proud of: Bukhara table, Depet sofa, Envelope table, among others.

What is the best advice you were given at the beginning of your career, and what would you tell the young up-and-coming designers?
I was told to follow my passion and not pursue money...and that all would fall into place if you work hard enough.

What’s your favorite project that you worked on? What is your dream project?
I love all of my projects. One of our strengths at Eklego, for me, is that we’re always doing different projects. We’re working with companies that think differently, so that, for me is the most important; so long as the projects are changing, every different project is my favorite project.

One of the recent ones that we finished was a sales center at Marakez; one of the reasons we liked it is that we actually approached the work space that they were going to work in in a very different way. It was catering to a need that they had, as well as sort of having a space that imposes the way they work on them. When you walk in the place, you feel alive, everybody is working everywhere, and everybody is using all of the spaces. There is no one room dedicated for one thing…For me, this is where design and space is going: the idea of not having a fixed space for one thing. I think that’s exciting.


What or who inspires you?
In general, people inspire me and people’s stories inspire me. So, things that are different or unique are always points of inspiration; it doesn’t matter if it’s in design, sports, business or a developer. In the last seven days, I can mention six people who inspired me; there is always inspiration in people. My partners inspire me, my team inspires me, my showroom managers inspire me.

I don’t think that design is about using a product, it’s about thinking what the product is trying to solve and maybe it doesn’t end up being a coffee table, maybe it turns out that the person doesn’t need a coffee table. It’s about solving the problem and not the actual functional thing.

Islam: Patricia Urquiola has been an eternal inspiration. She is a Spanish designer who is extremely versatile in her interiors, as well as product designs; she builds very much on her heritage and effectively translates it into beautiful design pieces.

What is your favorite home accessory?
I’m a minimalist. I don’t know about home accessories; but one of my favorite accessories is this funky pen/pencil that I have. It’s really this ridiculously tacky pen; the lad is really fat, you can sketch and you can also write really easily. I’m more practical, I think.

What fabric or material do you prefer to use?
I love to use cotton and linens in general; anything that is natural and is as closest to raw material as possible, so wools too. I still like clean lines, but I also like unique pieces like velvet; so I’ll like something that’s a bit crazy, or a crazy color, but just a one off.

Islam: I love natural and noble materials, as well as strong and durable ones. I love to use my Jam Space fabrics, which were designed in collaboration with many other younger talents.
7/2/2019 8:39:00 AM
<![CDATA[10 Freezable Marinated Chicken Meals]]>By Maggie’s Little Kitchen

Given the threads and conversations I’ve also witnessed recently, everyone seems to have developed the same problem: hectic schedules make it impossible to prepare food economically at home, but then the economy makes it impossible to opt for the convenience of takeout all the time. I totally get that — I love to make food; I don’t always have time; and I’ll easily opt to jeopardize my own health and budget for convenience, because of my working hours. I know for a fact I can speak on behalf of most people I know; we’re collectively broke by mid-month, and we’re probably all on the verge of developing stomach ulcers from the crap we’ve been ordering for lunch on a daily basis at work or otherwise.

Calculation and Preparation
First things first: QUIT. ORDERING. OUT. Feeding one person via takeout in Cairo can cost a bundle and if you order every day you can kiss your salary goodbye. Calculate that for a moment—if you made whatever you’re ordering at home, will it cost as much? Probably not. If you ordered a chicken sandwich from a popular fast food joint, you’ll likely end up paying something close to LE 100. With that LE 100, you’re better off purchasing a half a kilogram of fresh chicken, plus some condiments to make about six servings of that very sandwich at home, at a better quality, where you’ll still have a ton of condiments left over. Let that sink in a moment.

Second thing: Cliché as it might sound, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. If you don’t prepare, you’ll basically eat anything and end up spending way too much. With prices peaking around Ramadan season and all the (costly, albeit rewarding) social commitments you might have, that probably isn’t the best idea. So I wondered—what if I made 10 meals in advance? How long would it take me and how much would it cost me?

I trudged down to the local supermarket, tried not to cringe at the prices, and brought some essentials. First and foremost, I bought two and a half kilograms of chicken breasts—it’s a protein, versatile, grudgingly affordable, and goes a long way. In addition, I bought some mustard, honey, soy sauce, greens, a few herbs and spices, and went home after spending something like LE 300. Not too bad, given what happened next.
It took me exactly one hour to prepare 10 basic freezable meals in 10 different flavors. Below are the 10 freezable chicken marinade recipes I came up with using general items in my pantry or fridge. Now, on to the nitty-gritty. You’ll need zip-lock bags and a permanent marker. For each marinade, place all ingredients in a zip-lock bag. Press out all the air, and lock it up. Squeeze the marinade around the chicken until it’s completely covered. Neatly fold the zip-lock into a parcel. Label each parcel and place it in the freezer for up to three months.

A few items to consider
- Each meal I prepared consists of two medium chicken breasts and their tenders. This is a generous portion when I’m eating alone, but around the dinner table I usually multiply that portion depending on the number of people.

- These chicken meals can be grilled, pan-fried, baked, broiled, or foil-pocketed. It’s up to you!

- Onions, bell peppers, carrot strips and other veggies complement these meals pretty well. If you choose to roast your chicken in the oven, pop it on a sheet pan alongside some potatoes, onions and carrots too!

- You can chop your chicken up into strips, cubes or thin cutlets if you like.

I designed these to be taken down to thaw in the morning before work, so when I get home, I can cook them right away. Ideally, I would take down two or even three packets, cook them the way I see fit, and store them in airtight containers in the fridge for the whole week. Don’t worry that this might be too bland of a meal for your guests; with the right side dish, and given the mouthwatering marinade taste, you’re bound to impress without wearing yourself out!

- Write up the name of your meal on the packet, because once they’re frozen, they all look alike and it’s hard to tell what’s what.


Pesto: 2 chicken breasts
2tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp minced basil
1 tsp almond meal
1tsp grated parmesan
1tsp minced garlic
Salt and pepper

Sweet Chilli:
2 chicken breasts
? cup sweet chili sauce
2tbsp olive oil
1 jalapeno pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
Salt and pepper

Mango & Apricot:
2 chicken breasts
? cup mango juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1tsp apricot jam
? tsp mustard
1 tsp minced garlic
Salt and pepper

Tomato & Bazil:
2 chicken breasts
? cup tomato puree
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
Handful fresh basil leaves
1tsp minced garlic
1 tsp honey
Salt and pepper

2 chicken breasts
2tbsp olive oil
1tsp minced garlic
? tsp thyme
? tsp onion powder
? tsp allspice
Salt and pepper

Honey Mustard:
2 chicken breasts
? cup honey
2tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp vinegar
1tsp lemon juice
1 tsp minced garlic
Salt and pepper

2 chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
1tsp brown sugar
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1tsp minced garlic
? tsp sesame seeds
Salt and pepper

Cilantro Lemon:
2 chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
Handful cilantro leaves
Juice of 2 lemons
Zest of 1 lemon
1tsp minced garlic
Lemon slices
Salt and pepper

Curry & Buttermilk:
2 chicken breasts
? cup buttermilk
2 tbsp olive oil
1tsp curry powder
? tsp turmeric
? tsp minced garlic
Salt and pepper

Honey Soy:
2 chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
1tsp dark soy sauce
1tsp honey
1 tsp minced garlic
Salt and pepper

Follow ?Maggie’s?Little?Kitchen ?on ?Facebook ?& ?Instagram:?@maggieslittlekitchen? or www.maggiesfood.com]]>
6/30/2019 8:07:00 PM
<![CDATA[The Dawn of Interior Design ]]>
The real estate market has always been seen as a safe investment to retain cash. Recently, the sector has seen more interest that ever with expats sending back their savings to invest in a property market that has become much more affordable to them after the floatation of the Egyptian Pound.

“There is a huge boom in population, massive numbers of compounds are coming up,” says Eklego founding partner Dina El Khachab.

The flourishing real estate market has had a positive impact on by-industries like interior design, furniture and many others. With this rising demand came a rising supply of services, with many firms launching in the past few years.

“Real estate has been offering lucrative investment value for many people,” says Senior Partner and Chief Designer at Alchemy Design Studio Mohamed Fares. “[And so] commercial and real estate projects such as compounds, have seen a clear surge in demand for architectural and interior services.” Similarly, Chairman and CEO of Amr Helmy Design Amr Helmy believes that the furniture segment has also seen a significant boom during the past few years. “The rise in property buying has led to more demand for furniture in general... All real estate projects are great for the furniture industry, in general.”

With every new billboard advertising for new developments in Cairo, Ain Sokhna, the North Coast and the Red Sea, a new design opportunity presents itself. A new home, even a second home, is the opportunity many owners wait for to splurge on furniture, further contributing to the growth of the interior design industry.

And while consumers tend to trust word of mouth and first-hand experiences, remaining loyal to a number of well-known firms and particular brands, experts believe there’s plenty of room for everyone to grow in the interior design business. For them, competition just fosters more growth in the industry and its supporting services.
“The guy who is paying a few hundred thousand pounds for a designer is not going to go cheap on his furniture,” says El Khachab. “There is lots of room for everyone to grow.”


The right client, in the right channel
While there’s plenty of business for everyone, capturing a share of the growing, but competitive, pie lies in marketing tactics. The trick to capitalize on this growing demand and make room for a business amidst growing competition, our experts agree, is in targeting the right market segment with the right marketing too.

Many market segments visit exhibitions and fairs like Furnex and Le Marche to seek out new trends, products and brands all under one roof. Helmy explains that the fairs “attract certain customers and put designers on the market; it is [the designers’] responsibility to stand out in the middle of so many.” As for the clients who visit, he says, “[they] have the chance to experience the products and furniture through a tactile approach which cannot be replaced by any digital form of purchase.” Fares agrees, adding that “nothing beats direct interaction.”

Although many believe in a face-to-face interaction with the client, they also know that digital marketing is essential to reach a key emerging segment - the youth.
To capitalize on that segment, many have invested in marketing schemes focusing on social media being, number one given the advent of the digital age. El Khachab is all in for the use of influencers, for instance, as a marketing tool over other more traditional channels for specific segments of their clientele. “If you have an influencer who’s talking about their beautiful home that they just finished with Eklego…it’s a much bigger audience than Furnex.”


Helmy believes that a balance of fairs and social media usage, among other marketing tools, is important. “Social media and guerilla marketing are also great methods...Everyone should have a healthy balance of all methods,” he says.
A sub-segment of the youth market that has been growing over the past five years, is young adults who have chosen to leave their family homes before marriage to live alone. “People are actually being a little bit more autonomous for moving out,” says El Khachab.

They are the ideal clientele for the global furniture brand Ikea, although the price tag that now comes with their products is no longer as affordable as the brand is in other countries around the world. An ideal coffee-table, for instance, starts at LE 5,000 in Ikea. “Here [in Egypt], Ikea is actually a luxury brand,” says El Khachab.

Helmy, a leading design firm in the market, saw this opportunity, a market gap and created his own brand ‘Designy’ to make great living accessible to a wider audience, not only the niche sector. “Designy works on making sure you can get a kitchen, dining table and sofa, all for under LE 20,000,” Helmy explains. “Competing with IKEA and other local mass manufacturers has increased attention to the efficiency of our production methods and has made us reverse engineer products to ensure they are easier to produce, transport and install.” The price tag for a coffee-table that is slightly larger than the one IKEA stocks for LE 5,000 runs upwards from LE 2,000.

While a solution for many clients’ quality-and-design-versus-price dilemma, not every Egyptian can afford a coffee table that is over half of their monthly salary, and brands like IKEA or Designy are still “not targeting the majority of the population,” El Khachab says. In today’s world, art should be made available to all, and not segregated by a price tag only for the upper class. Fares says “Owning a ‘designer item’ should not only be restricted to a financially affluent audience, but made available to every interested customer…different price points pose a number of creative challenges that are normally very enriching for a designer.”

An opportunity to grow
The floatation of the local currency has not left anyone unaffected; it has pushed consumers to look within their own market to find products needed, whether fashion items or furniture pieces. Local craftsmen have been ignored for a long time due to the perception that imported items are better. Yet now, local manufacturing has been given the opportunity to shine in the spotlight of the Egyptian shopping culture.

This hasn’t only opened doors at home, but also led producers to look internationally and compete with affordable, well-designed and crafted products.

That’s when designers started looking in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the western regions for opportunities, competition and a wider market. In an effort to bring recognition to Egyptian talent and expose them to a larger market, Alchemy Design Studio brought the KYME space at Milan’s Salone del Mobile exhibition held during Milan Design Week to put a spotlight on Egyptian designers. “The participation in local and international fairs is very important in order to be seen by key players in the industry,” Fares says. “With it, a good branding and communication strategy are very important tools for successfully showcasing a designer’s services and products.”

Although there is no shortage in talent, there remains one in educational outlets providing the basic tools for running an efficient business.


“Without business sense [craftsmen and local businesses] don’t know how to grow, they don’t know how to get their clients, they don’t know how to market themselves … I think there is a lot of untapped potential,” El Khachab says. She admits that her firm has not started working with any of the 42,000 workshops in Damietta due to organizational issues and lack of consistency, but that there is a need to develop talents to increase exports in that field. Fares adds, “historically speaking, Egypt has always been a place with many good talents and craftsmen. This is not the issue at hand; improved manufacturing methods and programs could yield higher and more organized output, which would make locally manufactured products more interesting and available to the customer.”

6/30/2019 9:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[The Granola Guide]]>By Maggie’s Little Kitchen

The story of breakfast goes like this: I discovered a while ago that I had a mild form of irritable bowel syndrome. The doctor’s advice (after I ranted for about 15 minutes nonstop about how my jeans don’t zip up anymore, how sluggish and forlorn I am in the morning, how unproductive I am at work ... you kinda get the picture) was to seriously take a close look at the ingredients of whatever I was consuming. Otherwise I should consider eliminating things one by one from my diet to work out where the pain and lethargy was coming from.

It took me a while. I switched foods around, thinking maybe yeast or gluten were the culprits. So I adopted the prospect of granola—dried fruit, nuts, honey—sounds quite healthy! And what could me more harmless and more nutritional than a normal bag of supermarket granola? Combined with a cup of skimmed milk in the morning, I’d be good to go! Right?

Wrong. Three mornings in a row with store-bought granola literally killed my waistline from excessive bloating and the pain was just phenomenal. When I used to commute an average of three and a half hours a day, that sort of pain combined with jeans while stranded on a bumpy bus-ride in Cairo traffic just made me miserable. Seriously, utterly miserable.

So I looked at the ingredients on the package—and guess what? Over 25 ingredients are contained in a seemingly innocent bag of granola: emulsifier, stabilizer, calcium carbonate, lecithin, lactose, soya powder, phosphate, colors, flavors … I was consuming these chemicals, laden in sugar and sodium. Every morning, I was literally eating an intestinal horror story.

The outcome of my discovery was pretty clear; I’d have to make it myself. After a couple of hours on the internet, where I discovered an entire world of food-suspicious individuals like myself, I found that it wasn’t all that hard, and that there were a thousand ways of making it. So I tried my hand at it. The result? A house filled with intoxicating nutty-vanilliary-toasty-maple-syrupy scents that lingered well into the morning of the next day.

I was consuming a homemade granola that went down from 25+ ingredients, to only about 8. And my stomach? It wasn’t protruding like I was carrying quintuplets at nine months anymore. The pain? Down a million notches. The appetite? Sated. The feeling? Clean.

The Granola Guide
I’ve made a basic and comprehensive chart for you, step by step constituents of the ideal granola, with enough options to give you the freedom to create it the way you want. It won’t take you more than 30 minutes to get it all together and bake it, and you’ll thank me later. Plus, this is a great way to use up all those dried fruits and nuts left over from Ramadan. The recipe is designed to give you about three cups of granola; I would personally divide it into small boxes and carry one to work with me every day to have my breakfast there, topped with yogurt or skimmed milk. However you choose to store it though, just make sure you let it cool (so it stays crunchy) and store it in an airtight container for up to two weeks.


Choose Your Oats
Use 2 cups traditional steel-cut oats (for big yummy clumps) or instant oats for flaky, but awesome, small clumps.

1.Fruit & Nuts
Add ? cup fruit and ? cup of nuts—knock yourself out!
Almonds ? cashews ? hazelnuts ? walnuts ? pistachios ? peanuts ? pecans ? raisins ? dried ? berries ? dried fruit (kiwi - ginger - pineapple - apricot - banana – strawberries – cherries – mango - figs) ? prunes ? dates

2.The Binders
Stick it together with 3 tbsp nut butter (peanut butter ? almond ? cashew ? or coconut oil) and 3tbsp sweetener (honey ? maple syrup ? agave ? or molasses)

3.The Bits N’ Pieces
Add ? cup of any of these:

Chocolate chips (or peanut butter or white chocolate chips) ? chia seeds ? flaxseeds ? pumpkin seeds ? almond flakes ? or shredded almond

4.Scents & Spices
Add 1 or both of these:

1 tsp extract (vanilla, orange, almond or lemon extract)
? tsp spices (cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger)

The Recipe
-Preheat the oven to 200 celcius.
-Toss all dry ingredients together.
-Melt wet ingredients in a saucepan and pour them over the dry ingredients.
-Combine and spread on a foil-lined baking tray, then bake for 20 minutes.
-Cool and enjoy.

Follow ?Maggie’s ?Little?Kitchen ?on ?Facebook ?& ?Instagram: ?@maggieslittlekitchen? or www.maggiesfood.com
6/29/2019 12:09:00 PM
<![CDATA[Dream Dress]]>

Najal, a mashup of the two self-made owners’ names, is a recent addition to the bridal scene and has just launched its first collection. Ahead of designing their collection, which features exquisite detailing and embroidery, Najuib and Jalal closely followed bridal and evening wear trends, participating in several exhibitions and events to keep up with the pace of new designs and styles.

Photos courtesy of Najal

Since their career shift, the designers have been fully dedicated to running a purely Egyptian brand, sourcing the best fabrics and designs across the country.
“Our main goal is to keep focusing on Egyptian identity and further expand to represent Egypt in both the regional and international markets,” the ladies behind Najal say.

Photos courtesy of Najal

Photos courtesy of Najal

Find them on Instagram @najal.official
Photography @sherifelbouhyofficial
Videography @vu.films
Makeup @rehamkhalifaa
Hair @eslam_hairstylist
Fashion Direction @alagabany
Models @alaazahrann @nancyhelalll @reemelbakri_
Agencies @vichi_modeling_agency @f2fagency
Campaign Credits to #abusir

6/28/2019 8:57:00 PM
<![CDATA[Queen for a Day]]>
Photography courtesy of Deana Shaaban

Photography courtesy of Deana Shaaban

Photography courtesy of Deana Shaaban

Follow Deana Shaaban on Facebook
@Deanashaabandesigns and on Instagram
6/28/2019 3:03:00 PM
<![CDATA[Top 5 Tips to Liven Up Your Summer Home Without Breaking the Bank]]>By Angie Salama

W?e all see pictures of gorgeous spaces that exhibit stunning colors, textures, and present a lightness that we wish we could incorporate into our spaces, but where to start? It is absolutely possible for you to liven up your summer homes without completely redecorating your interiors! We have highlighted seasonal trends and tips that will add a spark to your spaces with simple, decorative accessories.

Bring the Outside Inside

One of the oldest tricks in the book for creating harmony in your spaces is looking for color inspiration from nature. Indigo blues and greens can transform the serenity of your summer home, and better connect it to the general aesthetic of the season.
The fastest way to bring your space to life is by adding plants. From a porcelain glass vase with flowers, simple bouquets across your tabletops and counters, to bamboo sticks, twigs, or long branches at the corners of your space, plants add a touch of nature and a dramatic height to your interior.

Also, focus on layering the blues of the sea and sky into your existing interiors by adding a pouf and cushions to your furniture, or frames and candles on your living room tables.


Geometry and Patterns
Lines are life! 2017 was full of geometric patterns and designs on cushions and rugs, which are still very trendy. This year, they have made their way to walls, tiles, and artworks.

Adding geometric patterns to a single wall in your space with wallpaper, or a large artwork, will make it more dynamic, but you can also incorporate patterns using a couple of cushions on your solid colored furniture.

Inca & Co1

A Bit of Blush with a Touch of Navy
Mix up your subtle colors with a touch of a statement color. Your pastels and blush palettes will bring a softness to your space that is necessary in a summer home, but for this season we want you to spice things up a bit. Incorporate lighter colors with muted red tones like burgundy or navy blue to balance out the softness.

From kitchenware to patterned accessories and more, this color duet will transform your space into the world of “modern chic” in a matter of minutes.

Fringe It Up!
We’ve seen it at the largest international interior design exhibitions and we know it’s making a comeback! You’ll see it on cushions, wall hangings, throws, rugs and accessories. Joining it in this trend are macrame, tufting, tassels and feathers which add an authentic, handmade touch to your rooms.

Wood Tones
You can never go wrong with wood tones in your summer home. Wood brings an element from nature to your space, which neutralizes all of your already existing furniture. From frames to coffee tables, they will always add harmony to your space.


6/28/2019 8:47:00 AM
<![CDATA[A New Age of Retail]]>
Last month we stopped by at the inaugural Egypt Retail Summit where industry movers, shakers and disruptors hit the stage to share some of their opinions, lessons and advice on the new age of retail. So where is retail heading in the digital age? Group Director and CEO of AlFuttaim Malls Timothy Earnest sits down with Egypt Today to answer that question and discuss how malls are evolving in the Middle East and Egypt.

“I have never seen a successful mall close down,” Earnest said during his talk at the summit. The “mall of today” should have four pillars to be successful: retail, entertainment, food and beverages, and social engagement. An excellent example of this is Cairo Festival City Mall (CFCM), where all of these come together. “The space and design are essential in catering to consumer and retailer needs, as temperatures in the Middle East tend to rise during the summertime, making outdoor shopping experiences unfeasible. AlFuttaim set out and perfected the outdoor shopping experience indoors, with cool marble interiors, soft music, sunlight and of course controlled indoor temperatures.” Earnest also stated that online retailers are always seeking out a physical footprint in order to provide their consumers with credibility. “There is no doubt that malls will always be around, offering the next generations an enjoyable shopping experience.”

Innovation is key, and AlFuttaim are at the forefront of it. During the summit, Earnest announced that CFCM will soon launch a new 22,143 square kilometer expansion, which will be named Festival Avenue, adding 120 shops, including 60 retail stores bringing in major international brands, 20 new food and beverage outlets and two new entertainment concepts. “The retail sector in Egypt is witnessing huge growth, and we want to further support its development. The brand-new Festival Avenue luxury expansion will truly position Cairo Festival City as setting the standard for retail in Egypt as it becomes Egypt’s premium urban entertainment and retail destination.”

Festival Avenue will have approximately 1,000 parking spaces and a new-to-market 1,567 square kilometer food hall, featuring outlets with both inside and outside terraces. They are aiming to open its doors in 2021. Taking the environment into consideration, Festival Avenue is set to have 75 percent of its area enclosed in glass in order to provide the outside shopping experience in a controlled climate, which is needed given high summertime temperatures in Egypt.

Earnest also argues that malls are significantly benefiting the economy, and even the environment at large.

“There have been studies commissioned, regarding the various ways to shop and the various distribution channels that are effective, and malls rank fairly high. As you think about it, it’s a one-stop shop situation.” Earnest continues, “[If it weren’t for malls,] consumers might have to burn a higher rate of carbon emissions as they visit different markets or destinations in one day. However, at Cairo Festival City Mall, you can go to the hypermarket and then go purchase some clothing, after that you can go to a movie, or to the pharmacy or choose from a selection of dining options depending on your needs.”

CFCM aims to set an example for all by always looking for more efficient ways to minimize pollution while observing the behavior of shoppers, tents, and the industry as a whole. “We as an industry have taken the time to assess the properties, looking to achieve more sustainability and with sensitivity to the carbon footprint,” Earnest says.
The mall is the leader in sustainability due to the LED lighting in place, which brings down their energy demand by 30-40%. When it comes to improving practices that are already in place, Earnest points out that the new renovation and expansion make sustainability a given when it comes to energy. “We are looking at all of our HPC cooling systems, we are looking at LED lighting, and we are looking at how we handle trash and the types of things that can done with recycling.”

The hazards of single-use plastic are high on everyone’s mind. Could malls contribute to limiting its use by banning single-use plastic? “What’s interesting about malls is that we’re landlords,” Earnest explains, “There are certain things that we can control that might be government regulated. Let’s say that the government says no more plastic, then we will have to write our leases in a way that you can’t have plastic; for us to put down that rule from the outset would be extremely difficult, because every business has their own platform. But we certainly do educate retailers on what we’re hearing in the market trends, we are able to show best practices, and we can encourage that [on the sustainability front].” By educating their tenants and creating the much-needed awareness, green practices are achievable.

Earnest points out that being a landlord only gives him so much power, and for an impactful change to happen governments would need to step up. “But to mandate it from our standpoint as the landlord would be very difficult. It would be very difficult to monitor…But I think that more and more retailers are becoming sensitive to these issues.”

With some of the largest malls in the world being located in Dubai and the Middle East, Arabs are no strangers to shopping—in fact they are amongst the largest spenders around the world. Similarly, Cairo is currently home to an estimated 24 operating shopping malls and many more are under construction; a cluster of malls that have risen in small, crowded areas and are often built not very far apart.

“Malls will always survive if retailers rent space. And retailers will only rent space if they feel that there are going to be customers to buy their merchandise,” Earnest points out “Ithink what you see in a place like Cairo is a lot of buildings being built and that points to a critical mass of retail. How you fix that is very difficult; some cities have done it through zoning, and some cities have done it through regulation, sometimes it naturally happens through the cost of capital, access of capital. There have been certain markets, especially in this part of the world, where capital has been cheaper, where there isn’t any zoning, so build what you want as long as it meets the conditions of the building inspectors. After that, the marketplace has to [assess] whether that was a good decision or not.”

Cairo Festival City Mall is the perfect example of a successful mall, employing 10,000 people, serving as a model that is both economically lucrative and environmentally conscious. Earnest also reminds us of the impact that malls have around them; “You have to keep in mind the [prospective] development that’s going to happen around [the venue] and the value that’s going to be created. Because people like to live close to malls, they like to work close to malls. When it’s successful and done right, it can be a big boom to the economy.

There is still a lot of work to be done; AlFuttaim are leading by example and are definitely headed in the right direction. Here’s to hoping that others will follow.”
6/27/2019 6:29:00 PM
<![CDATA[The Upcycled, Guilt-Free Accessories We All Need]]>
As a truly conscious brand with ambition, Up-Fuse manufactures handbags and accessories using only recycled, sustainable materials for their products, while maintaining a fashionable edge. The colors are bright and the bags are durable, and it only takes an estimate of 40-50 minutes to produce one.

“[From the outset], I wanted to make a casual brand; my partner and I are travelers by all means. We love to go to cities and explore, and usually find that there has to be a companion, [which] most of the time is your bag, which has to be comfortable. So, we decided to create a bag brand. We have an ethical ethos, where we don’t want to kill animals for leather to make the bags,” Yassin recounts.

Taking the cruelty/guilt-free road, Yassin tells us that, along with her partner, they were keen to build a beneficial, sustainable product from waste. “While studying in Berlin, we stumbled upon an agency and we worked together to make the material then came back home full of enthusiasm,” she explains. Upon their return to Egypt, they decided to utilize that material to create casual wear. She highlights the social aspects behind using upcycled material: “We will create job opportunities that don’t need [formal] education. This was something very important.” She continues to explain, “You need to be a carpenter to make furniture, but they can be upcyclers without studying that. If you want to be an upcycler, you can be an upcycler. It’s very easy, we have [machines] tailored to our production process, and we make sure that it’s very easy and safe of course.”

When it came to sourcing and collecting plastic for production, Yassin and her team would visit areas like Mansheyt Naser and Waraq and work with the locals there, creating job opportunities in a safe and clean environment.

“There is a misconception that we are from one world, while they are from another,” Yassin says of how slum areas in Cairo are perceived. “They are very culturally aware of the differences, not like any of the other slums that you can find in Cairo. I have been working with people who live in slums in Waraq, and they were very unaware of the fact that a girl could be unveiled.” She continues to point out the differences between Waraq and Mansheyt, which is also known as ‘Garbage City’. “In Mansheyt, on the other hand, they are very open-minded as there are a lot of outsiders coming in and out of the district, because it’s fascinating how the ecosystem works there.” She also mentions that “it wasn’t hard [working with them], honestly speaking. The people in Mansheyt, the women there specifically, really believe that we are one big family and understand the importance of work.” Yassin stresses the team altogether functions very collaboratively, adding that the workers are adequately trained and knowledgeable on reusing waste.

One bag is made of around 30 plastic bags, which were either faulty, rejected or collected. The plastics bags would then go through the sanitation process, before intially being processed into different patterned plastic sheets, that are then crafted into a wearable bags. A first of its kind in Egypt, the bags are a guilt-free purchase, particularly notable for reusing plastic that would otherwise take 1,000 years to decompose. “In 2018, we upcycled almost 180,000 plastic bags,” Yassin confirms to Egypt Today. “After we get our inspiration and set our mind on a certain sketch, we then go to Mansheyt and ask them to produce the sheets and colours that we need for our bags…the patterns that you see, they are the ones doing them.”

The creative team has little say when it comes to the final product, as they only pick the colours and sketch the product for the craftsmen in Mansheyt to create. “We tell them the direction of the colors or the seasonality of it. We never tell them how to make a pattern from A-Z. After they are done with the production, we buy the plastic from factories that produce it [the plastic that is faulty, rejected], as well as from others collecting it.” She continues, “After we do this, we take the plastic sheets and we produce them [into our products] at our workshop.” Yassin also says that, in the product’s earlier days, they weren’t able to find a factory to work with them in the manufacturing, potentially been due to misconceptions or stigmas pertaining to working with used or dirty plastic. This is why they had to create their own workshop.

“After we produce the bags, we start the marketing them. Usually, with every new product, we do the testing, we produce a small amount of 30-100 to test it, and then we make the bag,” Yassin recounts.

Up-fuse is no stranger to the circular system, as they previously encouraged their customers to bring in plastic bags to be weighed in return for a discount on their products.

For their latest collection, they teamed up with Egyptian artist Farah-zada El Shihy, who is known for her unique illustrative style, creating original patterns for the ecological collection “The Ripples.” Every bag is made of 100% recycled plastic in a unique, mesmerizing pattern hand painted onto each bag.

They are also the coordinators of the ‘Fashion Revolution’ in Egypt, which takes place annually between the April 20 and April 30. The awareness week encourages a future for fashion that is more ethical and sustainable, highlighting the issues of the workers behind the clothes. The campaign is behind the “Who made my clothes” social media campaign for consumers and the “I made your clothes” one for every person involved in the creation process.

Up-fuse is now working on expanding their market to the US and Europe.
6/27/2019 9:37:00 AM
<![CDATA[Easing Back Into a Healthier Lifestyle]]>
I like to start with the easiest, drinking enough water for my body. Water has an incredible amount of health benefits and most of us don’t drink nearly enough to replenish our body and give it everything it needs. And no, water in your coffee doesn’t count as water. If it’s during Ramadan, you want to continue sipping on water slowly from the time you break your fast to the time you have sohour. If it’s any other time of the year, I always like to take my own little glass bottle around with me and continue to fill it up, wherever I am, continuously sipping on it. I’ve found that many times when I think I’m hungry, I am actually thirsty and that my body is starving for water or is even severely dehydrated.

Where do I begin with the endless ways we damage our bodies when we don’t sleep well. We’ve found that most people sleep about four to six hours every night and don’t get anywhere near enough sleep that their bodies need. Start by adding an extra 30 minutes to your sleep time every night, until you reach seven to nine hours of sleep at night. I love coming up with my own bedtime rituals to get my body ready and cozy enough so that it is relaxed and can sleep. I stop using my phone two hours before I sleep, and switch off the television as well. The lightwaves that come out of the TV make our minds alert, making it very difficult for us to go into deep sleep once we are ready to get underneath the covers. Come up with your own bedtime rituals to help you sleep better.

Eating Right
Now, I’m not going to tell you don’t ever eat your favorite food. What I am going to say is this, if there is something you are dying to eat, then eat a small piece of it. But, the key is that in general you should be eating the things your body needs to replenish itself. A lot of our mood swings, skin problems, and bloating come from eating the wrong things for our bodies. Our bodies need certain foods to help us bloom, but instead we’re feeding it food that slows us down and doesn’t help us keep going during the day. It’s all a matter of rewiring our brains and understanding that food is meant to help us feel good. But we need to get real about the types of foods that should be the constant and keep the fried, oily and sugary for only occasionally indulging moments. And yes, absolutely, we can all have those moments.

It doesn’t matter how you choose to move, just move. There isn’t one right or wrong way to do this, you just have to pick a movement that works for you. If yoga is what gets you excited, then do yoga. If it’s circuit training because you like the adrenaline rush, then go for it. Pick something that works for you, something that gets you excited and that you look forward to in your day, and do that. It doesn’t matter what is trending or what anyone thinks you need to be doing. You know your body better than anyone else, so listen to what your body needs and go for it. For me personally, I’ve fallen in love with a type of training called Animal Flow that I coach at Ignite, and on my own time, this is how I train because it gets me excited and I feel good. A lot of training options are booming in Egypt, so do your research, look around, find the right coach and training program for you, and dive right into it. Not only will your body feel good, but more importantly, your mind will completely transform.

Deana Shaaban is a Performance Training Specialist at Ignite Egypt. On Instagram @deanashaaban / @ignite.egypt

6/27/2019 6:25:00 AM
<![CDATA[Fast Fashion & the depth of consumerism]]>

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), released a report in 2018 at the International Conference Center in Geneva, stating that the $2.5 trillion apparel industry is the second highest user of water worldwide, producing 20 percent of global water waste. For example, the production of one cotton shirt requires 2,700 liters – the amount a person drinks in 2.5 years. Asides from the environmental concerns, fast fashion is responsible for the largest factory fire in the history of the industry, where 112 people lost their lives in Bangladesh, a major player in textile manufacturing. The workers are paid below minimum wage, trapping them in poverty, while working in poor, unsafe conditions.

One creative saw beauty in all of the chaos and created the conceptual shoot Consume Me, in a bid to make a difference and create awareness for people who are buying fast-trend based fashion, without knowing what goes into it or where it goes after they throw it away.

Ghufran Katatney is a graphic designer by trade but a freelancing creative at heart. She left the agency she founded with her best friend a few years ago to revisit her old love for fashion. We all heard that fashion represents freedom, which many use as a great escape from their desk job. “Even when I was in school I was doing photoshoots...fashion wasn’t peaking in Egypt [yet].”

Later Katatney studied styling at the University of the Arts London. “I felt like I needed to study to have a base,” Katatney says.

Upon her return to Egypt after studying, word had gotten out about her career shift and the phone rang with her first campaign. “The week I got back, Okhtein called me and said that they want me to run a campaign for their new bags. I said that’s amazing, and [that’s how I] got really good exposure...It just happened from there.” Katatney was already a well-known player in the fashion field through her agency.

Discussing what drove Katatney to create the shoot, she recalls, “My friend and I were talking about Black Friday and she showed me a video of people in the United States who were beating each other up. It’s a jungle,” she continues, “I saw that and I was so interested [in] how fashion has made everyone become not inhuman, unemphatic, nothing good comes out of it...As I read articles and the stats, I decided to do a conceptual shoot.”

According to Katatney’s research, American shoppers spend a record of $5 billion every 24 hours. The average American household has more than $7,500 in consumer debt and the amount they spend in a single weekend is more than half of the total they give to churches in an entire year. At the same time, enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth 4 times.

Where did fashion go wrong? Was it when parents filled their babies’ wardrobes with unnecessary clothing, that won’t fit them

in less then a month? In response, Katatney says, “In my opinion, quick fashion was the worst thing that could happen. People used to take so much time into making things and designing and stitching...Fashion was an art...You look at all of these quick fashion brands like H&M, Zara, Forever 21. It’s very recycable fashion in a sense, but it’s not even recyclable. It’s made to wear for just one season, because it’s all trend-based fashion. It’s not basics...it’s not been made with high quality that will stay with you... The manufacturers didn’t put much effort into making one piece, then it all became a business and not an art of fashion.”

According to the UNECE, 10 percent of the global carbon emissions are emitted by the fashion industry and cotton farming is responsible for 24 percent of insecticides and 11 percent of pesticides despite using only 3 percent of the world’s arable land. A shocking 85 percent of textiles are sent to landfills, i.e. 21 billion tons a year.

“What effects me are the labour rights of people who work for the fashion industry. I am not going to say I am an angel, but I love some Zara. I also know that Zara’s labour standards are disgusting. So it’s always in my head to be conscious about it...I can buy clothes that are not just trend-based...I take a lot of my mom’s clothes as well.”

It’s all about conscious buying, the change won’t happen overnight where no-one buys fast fashion again. The affordability of fast fashion brands like H&M and Zara in Egypt isn’t like it is in other countries because of the dollar flotation and the hefty customs regulations. It can cost up to 799EGP for a pair of blue jeans, which is not affordable for the middle class who have been seen to head to flea markets (Wekala). When to the cost of a pair of jeans is the equivalent to 30 percent of a basic administrator’s salary, it is simply not affordable for the masses.

Hope a change and a remodeling of the fashion system is a dream for most, who probably won’t get to see it. “Right now it’s not looking very well, but social media is adding to it. It has probably tripled the consumption behaviour.” Katatney explains her take on it “I read that people are taking pictures of their new clothes just for instagram, and then they return it. We have reached a point where when you wear one outfit you just can’t wear it again…[they need to] show everyone that they have so much clothes, even if they’re not buying it.” Katatney has her own personal experience with the new age of social media originated shoppers “90% of my girlfriends will never wear the same dress to a wedding that they have posted on instagram. If they haven’t posted it, they’ll wear it again, even if people didn’t see them at that wedding because it’s a different group.”

The industry’s current unsustainable structure has been under threat for some time now by platforms that allow consumers to rent, sell or buy pre-loved clothes. Websites such as Rent The Runway, La Reina and Posh Hire from our local market, are increasing and launching regularly. Katatney sees hope in the new generation, noting, “the new generation is always testing boundaries, especially in Egypt.” Wearing pre-owned garments comes with a certain stigma in the Middle East, but Katatney disagrees, “the stigma is no longer there with the younger generations...The older generation is not going to change no matter what. When I wear such things and I see my grandmother, she would say, ‘you’re wearing other people’s clothes. I hope that you washed it,’ but with the newer generation, wearing vintage and used clothes has become a style statement. I think that with more education, the stigma is no longer there other then the older ones.”

Katatney has a theory for how awareness can be brought to the masses and the main source the young upcoming designers. “The most influential fashion designer in Egypt now is Kojak. So let’s say he runs an awareness campaign about where his ready-to-wear collection goes after the season is over. Or where he gets his fabric from. Even if it’s just on Instagram. It just needs to start somewhere, and then people will buy into it...It all starts with one person.”

It may feel like Egypt is not on the radar when it comes to the discussion for a more sustainable fashion market, but we still have miles to go just to develop our local designers. “Their priority is to not look at the environment, they want to just get into it [the fashion market]...It’s similar to the triangle effect. To be able to think about the environment is a further step in their career.” Katatney points out that, given the small size of the local market, “The fashion world in Egypt is not like that. At the end of the day, it’s a person who does a little collection every now and then. It’s not going to have such an impact like H&M or Zara, who are making tonnes and tonnes of products each year, and really harming the environment.”

Among the local brands, Fufa doesn’t throw away any fabrics or material and reuses it to create tags, hangers and unique shopping bags for their customers. Also, Indira Jewelry melts down their waste materials to create more pieces.

PHOTOG: @ghufranbythegram
STY/ART DIRECT: @ghufranbythegram
MUA: @glamby_nourhan
MODELS: @its_hazelcortez

6/26/2019 7:34:26 PM
<![CDATA[5 Tips for Healthy Hair Under Hijab]]>
1.Never wear the hijab on wet hair

Wet or damp hair is very sensitive and is more prone to breakage than dry hair. Pulling your hair back in a ponytail and placing the hijab on it, while wet, will lead directly to hair fall and frizz. So always dry your hair before putting on your hijab. Wash your hair on a day you know you’ll be staying home until your hair fully dries to avoid as much damage as possible. If you’re a swimmer or regular gym-goer and wash your hair on a daily basis, try wearing a satin scarf instead of a cotton one to avoid friction and damage.

2.Always change your hairstyle under the hijab

Change it up and wear your hair in different protective styles and in different ways. For example, most ladies wear a ponytail or a bun under their hijabs, all the time. But to avoid hair breakage and damage you have to change your go-to styles often. For example, what about tying your hair in a loose braid? That’s an easy hairstyle change. Or instead of placing your ponytail in the same place, every time, move the ponytail higher or lower on your head. Alternatively, go for a side-parted ponytail, instead of a tightly pulled-back ponytail to avoid hair fall and receding hairlines.

Finally, you should not only change your hairstyle under the hijab, but where you part your hair must also change every once in a while. When wet, if you usually part your hair on the right, simply give yourself a side part on the left, or down the middle, and let it dry this way. The side part naturally gives your hair extra volume, which helps when you remove the veil at night.

6/26/2019 6:18:07 PM
<![CDATA[Changing the Startup Scene with Technology]]>
According to recent statistics, more than 73% of Egyptians think entrepreneurship is a good career choice, and a total of 46% of Egypt’s adult population is able to recognize good market opportunities for new businesses, perhaps suggesting that more people have the capability and knowledge to become entrepreneurs.

The startup scene in Egypt is also highly impacted by the quick pace in technology adoption we are witnessing, which is evident in the entrancement of new ventures and the transformation of existing businesses. We are also leveraging novel digital technologies in new ways, such as block chain, AI, social, mobile, analytics, cloud and cyber-solutions, all in order to adapt the traditional way of creating and doing business to the digital era.

Over the past decade, international tech companies have been increasingly working with many Egyptian startups, such as IBM (International Business Machines Corporation).

IBM Egypt is currently working with multiple initiatives targeting developers, including hackathons, meet ups and workshops, in partnership with local incubators, universities and partners, providing Egyptian developers with access to IBM’s Cloud and AI platforms.

IBM Egypt is also hosting the Middle East and Africa Digital Sales Center, which is designed to transform the way IBM digitally engages with its ecosystem, including clients, business partners, academia, developers and startups across 70 countries in the region.

Since startups are tech-inclined in building their business models, IBM has partnered with several incubators and reached hundreds of startups offering tech solutions. IBM has also partnered with Nile University’s NUTechSpace. More recently, IBM signed a MOU with RiseUp Summit to reach more startups at the Greek Campus. This is in addition to another partnership with Falak Startups.

IBM and Egypt’s Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) are also partnering under a common vision to support the growth of the local entrepreneurship ecosystem.

According to Ahmed Dwidar, IBM Cloud & Cognitive Software Technical Leader at IBM, Egypt has always been a hub for young talents. He adds that the startup scene is rapidly growing with many entrepreneurs and business-minded youngsters increasingly surfacing to the scene. Moreover, Egyptian startups are now maturing into the next phase of the business cycle, with companies in their third or fourth year requiring investments surpassing US$2 million. However, in comparison to regional and international benchmarks, there is still much room for growth, Dwidar says.

“IBM is committed to helping technology startups realize their goals on their own terms and in the shortest amount of time,” Dwidar tells Business Today Egypt. He adds that as IBM is working closely with more startups, new ideas and new services will be added to the IBM Cloud platform to help startups reach their Time to Value faster.

“We help startups, not just by offering technology credits and technical activities but also by remaining supportive for their inter-social interactions by providing a healthy climate for startups to share their thoughts, ideas and how they can help one another. This kind of exposure and growth mindset will empower startups become more innovative and strengthen their brand and idea,” Dwidar says.

For example, Fawateerk, a strartup incubated by NUTech Space, has been mentored and enabled by IBM’s DevEX team to utilize IBM Cloud. Soon after, Fawateerk was able to build a cognitive chatbot for their website using IBM’s Watson AI service. Two other growing startups supported by IBM are Badgewell, a digital badging and business solutions company; and Bypa-ss, an Egyptian healthcare IT company.

6/19/2019 12:13:18 PM
<![CDATA[Introducing Digital Badging To Egypt]]>
What is the story behind your startup? Why did you choose this field?

We were exploring the best ideas that have a real impact on human development when we came across a TechCrunch article in 2016 discussing the future of learning, professional development and career progression. The article inspired a year-long study of potential applications that could capture the new trends in education and employment, and we started working on a solution that could spark massive improvement in how learning and professional experience could be organized and processed using artificial intelligence, so that we can help give people better recommendations about learning and career choices.

How does your project help the community? What is your contribution to society?

Software, and particularly artificial intelligence, is taking over the world, as some people may love to say. Digital transformation in education helps the community in several ways. Firstly, it helps organize learning data in a way that can be beneficial to learners, educators and employers and help all parties take informed decision when dealing with their strategic goals. Secondly, digital transformation helps increase the market efficiency and accelerate talent and skill matchmaking. Thirdly, digital transformation helps establish credibility through instant verification of educational and professional credentials of applicants. Fourthly, it helps establish a paperless registration, attendance and certification process which increases the efficiency and reduces the cost of education. Finally, by storing educational credentials digitally, there is an amazing opportunity to analyze learning data at the government and enterprise levels, which eventually enhances overall policymaking and economic development.

Why do you believe what IBM is doing is important for startups? How did IBM help your project?

In order for entrepreneurs to embark on their journeys and have an impact, they deal with a great amount of risk and uncertainty. With the support of large corporations, such as IBM, startups can reduce their technology risk dramatically by capitalizing on the experience, toolkits and processes of technology pioneers to bring faster and more secure applications to the market. At Badgewell, we utilized IBM technology to bring our blockchain infrastructure to the market very quickly, thereby saving days and probably weeks of development work. We have also used IBM cloud services to run several technology trials that would have taken more resources to conduct, had we chosen to run our trials using the conventional methods.

What is your advice for Egyptian youth who aspire to become successful entrepreneurs?
There is a prevailing notion that startups are mostly about great ideas, which is often untrue. Successful startups are founded on great execution. A mediocre idea with great execution is likely to be more successful than a great idea with a mediocre execution. Similarly, when it comes to technology and markets, many technology entrepreneurs, blinded by their excitement, vision and innovative design, miss the main point – which essentially is to solve a real-life problem. So, a great piece of advice would be to use the technology to serve the market, not vice versa.

6/18/2019 12:15:00 PM
<![CDATA[Digitizing Health Information Exchange]]>
They work on progressing the adoption of electronic health records, as well as developing the management of emergencies with the introduction of Health Tag, which is a smart/wearable card granting access to different healthcare providers onto the patient’s digitally stored health records. With the introduction of the Health Tag technology, healthcare providers will be able to use a web app to view, add and share patients’ records. Patients will also be able to add their records and search for the nearest healthcare provider.

Using IBM AI and Blockchain Technology, they plan to help healthcare providers diagnose more efficiently based on collected lab results, physicians’ notes, and radiology images on the patients’ Health Tag. Business Today Egypt met with Bypa-ss’s founder Andrew Saad and its co-founder Mahmoud Ghobashy to discuss the company’s impact and future plans.

What is the story behind Bypa-ss?

It all started while I was attending the emergency room, just like a normal medicine student. An old lady came with a stomachache and we were all puzzled for we knew absolutely nothing about her past medical history and neither did she – this is almost the same with anyone we meet – it was risky to give her standard medicine as could be the case if she were subject to a serious medical condition. I wanted to be able to help the woman without fearing endangering her life. I started with pure academic research about patients’ data, interoperability, electronic health records… etc., the usual nerd stuff. One year later, Mahmoud Ghobashy joined and within three months we got our first logo as a startup.

How does your project help the community?

Bypa-ss started HealthTag, a digital identity-based online platform connecting all care providers and receivers. This type of easy-to-use limitless system allowed our partners and users to deliver better quality care for their patients. Patients now can easily have all their records in one place, and receive lab results and physicians’ comments at home to save money and time.

With that old lady in mind, we made sure that even children, illiterates or anyone can still be a user; and this is why we insisted on using physical IDs as a bare minimum for people to join with no need for a smart device.

How did IBM help your startup?

We started in a very niche market where physicians, pharmacies and labs deal with top-notch companies, technologies and services. This is why we started with IBM as a reliable technology provider that got our back all the time. IBM got us the app setup, secured it, and even helped us try new technologies for more features to test as we move on with our minimum viable product that gave us a big boost both within the market even with investors who became more confident to put in more juice. I believe that IBM support went beyond technical to the feeling of trust, which both our investors and users now have in us.

There’s a lot of uncertainty in working with startups; they need people to have their back with the technical stuff. Downtimes for example is a pure technical issue that can profoundly harm the value you are adding to your early adopters, and this you can’t afford to lose. With the community at IBM, you get to meet wonderful people that can hook you up with technologies, features or just brainstorm game-changing ideas – this happened a lot with us.

6/17/2019 12:19:00 PM
<![CDATA[Fashion First Cairo-Riyadh-World - Asory]]>
Rana Yousry, the CEO and head designer at Asory, only established her label at the beginning of 2017, yet managed to become the first Egyptian fashion house to take part in Saudi Arabia’s first official fashion calendar fashion week.

Earlier this summer I sat in on a photo shoot for Asory’s latest lookbook and collection for her second participation with the AFC in Dubai onboard the Queen Elizabeth 2 Ship for ‘the first floating fashion week” Resort collections. It was less of an interview and more of a fashion talk about everything from Alexander McQueen to the golden days when Coco Chanel and Christian Dior would export their production lines from right here in Egypt.

Tell us about how your fashion story began and how you built Asory
I really began working after my first experimental ready-to-wear line ‘Loft Egypt’ which I created with my friends. The response from the market to the line was positive. We began by creating the collection at home and then went on to rent a room and transformed it into a makeshift studio. Soon after that I decided that I want to follow my haute-couture dreams and decided to part ways with ready-to-wear. It was an extremely long process from market research to creating the business model. In the meantime I was taking fashion design and pattern making courses. I traveled to Lebanon to study their market and took up an internship at Tony Ward at the same time I was building Asory.

Let’s talk details, what are your favorite fabrics to use?
I love sophisticated fabrics, I don’t like easy or cheap fabrics and if they are I’ll manipulate them into something that is worth wearing. I love manipulation; you’ll never find an Asory dress that is minimal and fitted. I work with cuts, details and multiple fabrics together, playing with all silhouettes, especially silhouettes that emphasize the beauty of the body.

Where do you find inspiration?
Anything around me can inspire me. One time there was a cup holder with Islamic motifs in front of me that I really liked so I turned it into a dress. I might see something that I like while I’m walking, a character or a personality. I am currently working on a capsule collection inspired by electrical cables. All because while I was walking I saw an ad for electrical cables and I really liked the colors.

Who are your favorite designers?
The person I call my fashion godfather is Alexander McQueen. If he was alive today I would have done anything to go and work with him. I love Karl Lagerfeld’s character; Ralph and Russo’s classical, minimalist designs that are at the same time fresh and modern. In the East my favorites are Hussein Bazaza and Michael Cinco. I love anyone who creates art and doesn’t follow the trends. Here in Egypt I admire Ahmed Hamdy’s identity and concept and I love Maram Borhan’s bridal dresses.

What was it like being part of Riyadh Fashion Week?
It was a big step; it wasn’t easy at all. The event was postponed twice and there were a lot of people trying to stop it from happening. For me it was a challenge and a risk, I didn’t know what people’s reaction to my designs would be, if they would be accepted or not. I didn’t know what their culture is like.

H.H. Princess Noura Bint Faisal Al Saud [honorary president at the Arab Fashion Council] came to see the collection. She was very happy with it and really liked some of the dresses, how the whole line is creative and each piece is different from the other. People’s reaction was very positive, when they found out that I am an Egyptian fashion house they would always offer to help me in anyway. The best part was that just months ago I was an intern at Tony Wards atelier, who was also opening the show and I’m after him on the schedule by two shows.

The Arab Fashion Council, which organized the first international fashion week in Saudi Arabia, is unlike any other fashion council as it represents 22 countries not just one. Do you feel that they represent Egypt equally to the other countries in the region?
They approach designers from everywhere in the Middle East and Egypt but have special specifications for participants. Creations must be artistic and then the designer’s look book must go to the four council offices to get approved.

The AFC’s long-term 2030 vision goal is to create a fashion pipeline by organizing Arab countries into fashion manufacturing infrastructure clusters. After being part of Riyadh Fashion Week, do you think they will reach their goal soon?
You measure it by how they are treating the Egyptian designers. When I went [to Riyadh Arab Fashion Week] and there was Tony Ward, Jean Paul Gaultier, Roberto Cavalli and a lot of other people we were all [treated in] the same way. If you want the media you’ll find the media, everyone had a fitting and rehearsal. Everyone had the same exposure . . . it’s fair play. They are moving very fast and that is a great thing. They are taking safe steps. They are trying to build an international fashion industry in the Arab world and I think they’ll achieve their goal soon.

The past couple of years we have seen Dubai evolve into a fashion capital with events such as Fashion Forward Dubai, Arab Fashion Week and the launch of Vogue Arabia. Egypt has also been on the rise with many luxury brands and malls launching, a boom in social media fashion influencers and many talented designers making statements, like Okhtein, Maison Yeya and Kojak. Why do you think that there is a lack of media attention when it comes to the Egyptian fashion scene, and why have we not seen an Egyptian designer on the runway at official calendar fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris?
I believe that it’s due to the Egyptian designers’ lack of knowledge. It’s not only about the media and PR. A fashion brand is a fashion business apart from the creative side. You must [research business models and the market and plan well]. Study why brands succeed or fail and why that happens, your development as a person . . . even with your team. We have a lack of education and knowledge about the fashion industry and that is what is holding us back.

How long do you think it’ll be before Egypt hosts Arab Fashion Week?
The market here isn’t helping anyone to come over. As a country we are not [lobbying] for these events to come and take place. Saudi wanted to hold an event such as this so they approached the AFC to come. They would love to come here but we will have to work to get them here. It can be tomorrow but it would need to be us who want it. The problem with Egypt is that we are a closed market. Even for fabrics, the whole market is only working for commercial trends.

Do you think that Egypt or Middle East has lost its culture and identity in fashion with so many designers desperately wanting to go international and Westernizing their designs? Or have we begun to see designers who are inspired by elements of their own culture and heritage?
There are people in Egypt who have an identity, yet I feel that we’re following not creating. Designers have created their own identity through the details in their creations, a certain silhouette but we’re following the trends and not creating our own concepts. The Arab world is the one that affects the Western world. The buying power lays mainly with the Arab world. There are many people who are working with their own culture, I am one of those people. There’s [been a huge lag in the Egyptian fashion industry]. We were the people who exported the fashion and then became the ones who imported the fashion. When you go back in history you’ll find that Coco Chanel and Christian Dior used to come to Egypt to manufacture their designs here. They had their own production line here, it was one of the best couturiers in Egypt. With time it will be us that impose our own identity, but it will take time.

Where do you see your brand going in five years?
I believe that I will have a strong base for our fashion empire, we will have a strong production line based abroad. We’ll export knowledge and art through couture. We’ll have prêt-à-couture lines and accessories. Maybe in five years we’ll be in leather goods and perfume. They always tell me that I move fast like a train . . . five years is a lot of time for us to do a lot of things. The whole idea is to [be sustainable].

6/1/2019 8:25:00 PM
<![CDATA[Bringing You Closer to African Heritage]]>
ByHAA work hard in order to preserve their artisan’s rights financially, while building anunbreakable relationships with them. Last month Henrik Georg, Director and Co-founder of the organization, was in Aswan attending the wedding of one of ByHAA’s artisans, paying his respects to the team.

artisans_03 Photography courtesy of ByHAA

In order to harvest the stone, the wood the wool and the cotton, they always aim to do it in a way that wont “plunder the Earth that we inhabit. We naturally come to represent globalization in areas where we work,” Georg explains of the organization which is run by a small team who aren’t driven by creating large profit, but by their shared mission to create a sustainable brand. They are currently working with a team of 25 artisans from all nationalities and all religions in the North and East of Africa.

Georg and his wife Ellen Simonia are originally from Denmark, who after first visiting Egypt back in 2004 immediately fell in love with the country. Upon returning to their home country after four months and the birth of their first child, they decided to move to Sinai to live and travel throughout Egypt, where they got to meet and become a part of the local craftsmen community. Some might say that they have seen more of Egypt than the average Egyptian.

Photography courtesy of ByHAA

In 2009 they created their first samples for ByHAA, with artisans from Siwa and Kerdasa. They would go on to travel to find artisans. “The beauty of Egypt is that we [get to] travel a lot. We’ve seen a lot. We’ve been on a search, we’re still searching, we’re still constantly trying to find the good options for making sustainable products. That’s also what it is. It’s not just finding the artisans who can make a sandal. [If you want] to sell something you have to make it sustainable in a way where they also benefit in the long run. That’s the difficulty, to be able to develop new things with them,” Georg explains.

ByHAA products range from bathroom accessories, bedding, candlesticks, furniture, lighting, rugs and tableware to towels and pillows. When it comes to sourcing materials, Georg explains, “We never source any material, it’s the artisans [with] their contacts—it’s their business. That’s part of a system we don’t see much of. [But] everything is made here in Egypt. For example our kilims are made of cotton and wool 100 percent Egyptian.”

If you’re wondering about the price tag, ByHAA honors the artisans by letting them set the price themselves. “The artists create the price and if it doesn’t work in the market we [negotiate] a more suitable price. Sometimes compromise needs to happen in order to sell and be sufficient. . . . Prices depend on the design specifically, it’s more art. We are [also] trying to avoid all of the traditional designs [you see everywhere] by moving around to different places,” Georg says.

Photography courtesy of ByHAA

ByHAA works with many materials such as limestone, salt, brass, alabaster, palm leafs, wool, cotton, wood, granite and marble, among others, while also using recycled brass, which can be seen in many of their products. Among the materials that they have had difficulty working with is glass. “It’s difficult to work with glass in Egypt, it’s difficult to make it sustainable, because of the competition worldwide. With stone, Egypt still has an advantage. It’s all sourced here in Minya and other places,” the founder explains.
The craftsmen and women have modernized simple home items by making small design changes. For example they inserted a split space in the middle of sphere brass lighting items, all of which are, naturally, handmade. “This is the way we work with the artisans, we work together and enrich one and another, says Georg, “Creating a different culture layer, where we benefit from each other.”

Photography courtesy of ByHAA

ByHAA is slowly creating a network of artisans and craftsmen from across Africa by connecting them to each other, to work together. They are all from different locations for example Swia and Sinai. This also “creates other businesses [for them] on the side,” Georg adds, highlighting that most of their products are made by order so that extra stock does not go to waste. “We work through dialogue and the constant play between design and artisanship. Each design is brought to life through endless hours of play, hard work, sometimes frustration and in the end satisfaction when design and craftsmanship meet in perfection and harmony.”

You can find ByHAA at www.byhandafricanartisans.com/ Instagram: @byhand_african_artisans/ Facebook: @Byhand African Artisans

4/15/2019 1:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Local Fashion with a Sustainable Focus]]>
In true 52 weekends tradition, we not only chose to interview Fufa because of her environmental standpoint, but also because of her love for traveling around Egypt and finding inspiration right here at home. “I was always into traveling in Egypt, I felt like I really wanted to promote Egypt. There is so much to see and people don’t know about it. So why don’t I do the collections based on these destinations?” Fufa asks.

Photography courtesy of Fufa

The designer has also been offering repairs and alterations for the items purchased in order to help her customers create a capsule wardrobe, with quality pieces that will last. In the age of e-commerce full transparency is key. Since Fufa’s collection is created locally, you’ll find that there may be a slight change in colors or patterns that won’t match the image on the website—because you can’t always control craftsmen as well as machines and this also helps give your wardrobe a human element with heritage.

For her upcoming Siwa collection, Fufa used Siwan symbols as inspiration for the print lining of the palm-woven bags, while also creating patterns from architecture in the city. In a joint event with Markaz, Fufa brought the Siwan artisans to exhibit their own products to clientele in Cairo, providing them with a platform where they can showcase their products, from home décor items, jams, soup, fashion and everything in between.
“[When I started], I just wanted to make clothes. I would buy stuff from Al Azhar or Wekala. Everything was Chinese imported, which is crazy.” Considering that Egypt is best known for its cotton farms, Fufa was surprised that fabrics were imported and recalls her journey to finding sustainable environmentally friendly textiles. “There is a lighter trick [I learnt], to see if the fabric is polyester or cotton: If it’s cotton it’ll burn slower and turns to ashes, if it’s polyester it turns hard like plastic and it’s smell like it,” Fufa says, cautioning that we’ve all bought a super soft jumper or t-shirt thinking that it’s cotton, but when we read the fine print we discover it’s nothing but polyester and most probably manufactured in China or Bangladesh. “100 percent polyester can be sold off as cotton, because it’s so soft.” Fufa clarifies. “So far I can say that almost 70 percent of [Fufa’s] production is all natural fibers. There is one material that I am trying to substitute. It’s a mix of cotton and polyester. It’s for the summer collection and people don’t like ironing during summer, so it’ll always have an ironed, fresh look.”

F67A5468 Photography courtesy of Fufa

Fufa learned that in order to find sustainable textiles for her collections, she needed to create them herself. It might have added to her production cost, but the designer says the peace of mind and guilt-free conscious that come with it are priceless. “I started working with factories in Mahalla and Minoufiya, because they have the pure cotton. Yes it’s really expensive but it’s really good quality,” Fufa says, explaining why she made the swap from imported to local materials. “I hate buying imported material, I don’t know who the artist is, I don’t know what the print represents, I don’t know what the colors represent, I don’t know anything about it. So I got into textile printing, that’s when I started drawing my own stuff. . . I started traveling around Egypt. Everywhere has a different craft and a different theme and mood.” Today, the manufacturers that she works with for printing on textiles refuse to work on anything that has polyester in it.

Fayoum was the inspiration and main focal point for Fufa’s spring/summer ’19 collection, offering a fresh and playful color palette for the range. “Fayoum is all bluish tones and turquoise and they draw on a lot of pottery there so I started to sit with artisans, to discover what they draw. A local artisan told me that we just draw everything we see in nature. So the colors are blue, turquoise, green and brown. Because of the trees, the sky and sea.” She highlights that at the end of the day all artisans are the same, they just use a different canvas. “Mine is fabric, theirs is pottery.”

F67A6152 Photography courtesy of Fufa

Color is a main feature in all her collections says Fufua, recalling a trip to Siwa where, “you’d see that most of the colors are yellow, orange, red, green and black. They start with yellow like the transition of the dates, which then turns orange, red and black. It also comes from the palm trees being green. Those are the colors of Siwa.” There they seal everything with ropes so Fufa adapted that and started threading with rope for everyday t-shirts, making them more comfortable than any fast fashion buy.

But being a waste-free business is hard, especially at a time where online-shopping has taken over, meaning that designers need to find a more efficient way to package their products. Fufa has taken advantage of scrap fabric and reinvented it as hangers, tote-shopping bags, headbands, scrunchies and even kids’ collections. “We don’t throw out anything, it all can be reused,” the designer maintains.

F67A9573 Photography courtesy of Fufa

Fufa has adopted a circular business model, where customers who have both previous Fufa collections can drop them in a recycling bin for Fufa to reuse the fabrics in future collections and the customer receives a voucher to purchase the latest designs. “It depends on the kind of fabric we’d get. Because in earlier [collections] we worked with synthetics. If we used it now, it’ll be a little bit against what we do today. For the new collection we can recycle it, Fufa confirms.

The designer is looking to expand into kidswear and accessories, all with a sustainable focus, made from environmentally friendly biodegradable materials.

You can find Fufa at www.fufaeg.com. Instagram/Facebook


4/15/2019 12:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Bawabat: Time Traveling Through Gateways]]>
With all my senses alert, we begin. I look intently at our surroundings as Madiha reclines in her chair, a pot of wilted pink roses on the coffee table and a painting behind her. The art features a naked young woman who bares her soul and there is sense of melancholy in the painting. The woman sitting before me is about to do the same as she begins to tell me her life story and that of her brainchild agri-tourism and wellness lodge on the Cairo-Alex Desert Road, named Bawabat.


“I broke down the barriers associated with being an Egyptian female, gave up my four walls, and went ahead and bought the land. . . .That’s when I knew I had to call it ‘Bawabat.’” Madiha starts. “I was thinking of a suitable name and the universe kept aligning for me to pick it, Arabic for ‘Gateways.’ I believe that each of us is on their own journey to self-discovery with their own gateway to cherishing their higher state of being, doing what they love, a teaching inspired by the Book of the Dead on Ancient Egyptian philosophy and the ethics of the Ancient Egyptian Goddess Ma’at. And that’s what Bawabat meant for me.”

As I contemplate what a gateway would mean for me, Madiha continues, “I was working in the corporate world for 22 years in mining fields. I’ve always loved the outdoors. I hesitated a lot before leaving behind a secure lifestyle with a stable income supporting my two kids, but I soon realized that I wasn’t nurturing my spiritual side and my need to be in nature. That’s where I really feel at peace. Despite the criticism I received from friends and family members, I went ahead and bought the land to cultivate right after the revolution with money I had saved up. I saw that as my very own gateway. Picking that path, with all its non-guarantees, was set with the goal of living well in the future for a better, simpler and more sincere life for me and my children. A journey from being cowardly to being courageous.”

IMG_7349 Photographed by Rana Kandil

Through Madiha’s words, the scene changes from the living room and I find myself at Bawabat. I walk through every gateway, connecting differently with them all, some nostalgically reminding me of the past while others take me to the future. And then, there are the ones that anchor me to this very present moment. Each gateway is marked with its own number, the knobs resembling unity, openness and abundance. These are all preserved in their original state, and Madiha continues to collect them as heritage from different parts of north and Upper Egypt, and throughout her travels to India and Colombia. Built with her own hands, Madiha started her vision with one worker, Abdel Fadeel, an Arabic name meaning someone with high values and ethics, aligning with her vision for Bawabat.

“Abdel Fadeel and I made mud bricks ourselves, which we used to build the place. We worked alone for many months and he taught me how to be creative, combining glass with mud bricks and hay, following the teachings of Hassan Fathy. He was a man that took pride in his Egyptian identity and roots, always wearing a traditional Galabeya garment native to the Nile Valley, no matter where we went.”

Exploring my surroundings through the story, I walk further and find myself standing before what looked like a room in the middle of the olive fields. “The Salarium Room,” Madiha interjects, ‘is Latin for wealth, with the root ‘sal’ standing for salt; a highly sought-after, expensive yet essential commodity back in the day.” A gift from her husband, the room is built entirely from salt bricks transported all the way from Siwa Oasis, an idea that came to the couple during a conversation with a taxi driver they had met in Siwa. I push the antique door as I enter and take in the scent of peace and nature combined. The room has the power to quiet an occupied mind.

I walk away eager to explore more as I stumble upon a small building shaped like a dome with doors at its every corner. “This is the Seventh Soul Dome, built by architect Hassan El Dahan,” Madiha explains. “I asked Hassan to create a place that had a piece of Egypt in it, using the old and the new, built in the same manner an Ancient Egyptian would. I wanted people to visit this space years from now and understand it withstood the test of time.”

IMG_7462 Photographed by Rana Kandil

I look around at all the doors and I see the labels on each; Life, Love, Giving, Beauty, Imagination, Wisdom, and Meditation. Without much thinking, I enter through the gate of Imagination, Al Khayal. I stand right in the middle of the space, with the dome centered above me, and I hear the sound of my breathing and heartbeat in sync and amplified. For the first time, I savor what solitude feels like. Up in the ceiling are endless lines of poetic scriptures quoting the likes of Khalil Gibran and Rumi, circling like a spiral descending from the dome. What looks like a small humble building from the outside is grand and inspirational on the inside.

Shortly after I step out, I stumble upon two angels engraved on a gate standing on its own at the very far end of the fields. “The door of Amina,” Madiha voices. “During my search for doors in Cairo, I made the acquaintance of one of the merchants who used to refer to me as ‘Ya Ghalya’ [Precious]. When I saw this door, I was intrigued. He said to me, ‘This is Amina’s door.’ It hit a chord as it was the name of one of my unborn children. It was a magical moment where Amina and I found each other again through the intangibles of our world. I took the door home and realized how Bawabat connects people; I love meeting people there. Everybody becomes the best version of themselves.”

IMG_7521 Photographed by Rana Kandil

As Madiha goes on, a donkey brays in the background at Bawabat and I stumble upon the door marked with the number 8, for infinity, which leads to an endless path to another gate overlooking rolling fields. Stepping through, I feel that I have fallen into a black hole where time has just completely come to a stop.

9:30 am. I’m back in the living room with Madiha who is smiling at me with wisdom in her eyes, asking me to be patient, to lead with love instead of just flowing and to not judge people by their appearance but by how close they are to their better self.

Bawabat wellness retreat, agri-tourism lodge and restaurant is located on Km 58 of the Cairo-Alex Desert Road. For more information visit bawabat.org or follow them on instragram @bawabat_gateways

Bringing life to untold stories and thoughts, Rana Kandil is a travel writer and founder of thatwanderwoman travel blog. Follow her on Instagram:


4/14/2019 2:28:05 PM
<![CDATA[A Walk Down Memory Lane]]>
Begin your walk at Qesm El-Attareen (Police Station), which held the headquarters of the British garrison during Mohamed Ali Pacha’s era. Right next to it is one of the greatest buildings of the street, the Alexandria Arts Center, which was originally established as the Muhammad Ali Club, the meeting point of the city’s cultural elite, with previous members including the likes of novelist E.M. Forster, British writer Lawrence Durrell and Greek Poet Constantine Cavafy. At the other end of the road is the Zohour (Flowers) Clock right across Shallalat (Waterfall) Gardens, home to the remains of Alexandria’s Arabian Walls. The latter were designed as an outdoor wall and indoor hidden wall surrounding the city from the east harbor (Mansheya Square today).
Fouad Street intersects with three main roads: Sherif Pacha (Salah Salem); Istanbul, which extends to Sultan Hussein named after Khedive Ismail’s son Sultan Hussein Kamel

(1853-1917), and El-Nabi Daniel, which some believe was named after Muhammad Daniel Al-Mosuli, an Islamic scholar who travelled from Mosul to Alexandria in the 14th century, and was buried in a mosque in the same location. Popular landmarks in the area include El-Nabi Daniel mosque, Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue and Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral.

Photography by Mohamed El Sayed

Fouad Street played a significant role in the planning of Alexandria, connecting the whole city together. In the Roman era, the street had an eastern gate (The Sun Gate) and a western one (The Moon). It was named Bab Rashid toward the end of the 19th century, as it was the main road linking Alexandria with Rashid City. The street was eventually named after King Fouad (1917-1926) in 1920. After the 1952 revolt, the name was changed to El Horreya, then to Gamal Abdel Nasser after the late president’s death. However, Alexandrians still know it by Fouad Street. Today, it remains a European-style thoroughfare, as many residents call it, and it holds a great deal of the city’s past glory with its quaint houses and aura of mystery. It was also home to a number of notable landmarks, most of which are unfortunately gone and can only be found in drawings and photos, such as the Mohammed Ali Pasha Club (now the Alex Art Center), Zezenia Theatre and the Khedive’s Hotel.

Cavafy, a Greek poet who resided in Alexandria and was the first Alexandrian scholar to have his works published in international journals, lived on Fouad Street most of his life until he passed away in the 1930s. His house, which overlooks Nabi Daniel street from one side and Fouad Street from the other, was turned into a museum in 1992.

Other landmarks on Fouad Street include the Alexandria Water Company. In 1857, Egyptian President Mohamed Said Pasha granted French engineer Cordier the privilege of providing Alexandria with pure water, so he established the National Water Company of Alexandria, continuing its franchise until 1867. Khedive Ismail bought it and sold it to the government, and the company was in charge of producing large pipelines from Wabour El-Maya tanks in Kom El-Dikka to the whole city.

As part of the Latin neighborhood, Fouad Street includes a number of uniquely designed buildings, particularly those built by Italian Architect Philip Beni in 1880 at the request of Khedive Ismail. Some of them remain today, including Balqees School, the Health Affairs Directorate and the Spanish Culture Center, all three of which were originally built as palaces in 1880.

Image-1 Photography by Mohamed El Sayed

Screening the first cinema show ever in Egypt at Tosson Pacha Hall in 1896, Fouad Street boasts a number of old cinemas such as the Metro, Plaza, Royal and Rio (the latter was once a ful and falafel restaurant owned a Turkish resident). Other landmarks include the Alexandria Cotton Company and the renowned Alexandria Opera House, built by English architect George Park and first named as Muhammed Ali Teatro, before the name later changed to Sayed Darwish Theater (1962).

Sadly, like many streets around Alexandria, several villas and buildings on Fouad Street have been demolished to make way for new ones; without the slightest heed to the unique architectural design and heritage of the buildings that date back more than a century ago, or to the street as a whole. Nevertheless, Fouad Street remains the “Heart of Alexandria” with its nostalgic atmosphere and exceptional style that takes us instantly back in time; one can almost catch glimpses of women dressed in elegant dresses walking gracefully by, the men donning neatly tailored suits and greeting each other with the word “Saeeda”—have a happy day.]]>
4/14/2019 2:14:45 PM
<![CDATA[gatjed: From Egypt to the World]]>
Developed by founder and CEO Ahmed Rasekh and launched in April, gatjed’s platform is the first ever to offer exclusively Egyptian business products to local and foreign enterprises. The business-to-business portal features around 100 Egyptian manufacturers, designers, and handicrafts, and customers can also use the gatjed app to access goods made in Egypt. The platform has different payment options including cash upon delivery.

final logo - 2

Named after the Djed, a symbol of stability featured on Ancient Egyptian temple pillars, tomb walls, papyruses and sarcophagi—the Djed pillar, which is also known as the “backbone of Osiris,” represents strength and stability in Ancient Egyptian culture, and Ancient Egyptians believed the Djed was the combination of the four pillars that carried the four corners of the Earth—the platform’s main goal is to promote local industries. “I have been living in Dubai since 2011. During that time, I visited many countries worldwide and I noticed that the label "Made in Egypt" has almost disappeared except for the label "100% Egyptian cotton" on some clothing brands,” Rasekh says. “One day a friend of mine bought an international brand LCD screen which had a ‘Made in Egypt’ label. At that moment, I realized that Egyptian manufactured products can certainly compete with products made elsewhere,” Rasekh says.

The CEO adds that, “gatjed is designed to be the largest e-commerce website for local and global wholesale trade serving a huge number of buyers and suppliers in Egypt and worldwide. Through gatjed.com, small businesses can sell their products to local and global companies. Sellers on gatjed are essentially manufacturers and distributors based in Egypt. As for the shipping, gatjed ships worldwide. On gatjed manufacturers and business partners can trade on a big scale through our business-to-business platform.”
Made in Egypt_Gatjed poster
Describing the individuals behind the project, Rasekh says, “We are family. The team is gatjed's most valuable asset. Each and every one of us works with passion and dedication. I strongly believe that with this amount of hard work, creativity, and devotion, gatjed will boom in no time.” ]]>
4/11/2019 6:06:39 PM
<![CDATA[When the Rains Come]]>
The technology may soon be adopted in Egypt, as the Head of the Egyptian Meteorological Authority Ahmed Abdel tells Business Today Egypt that a feasibility study and a review of application possibilities of cloud seeding in Egypt are underway.

As global warming leads to a hike in heat-trapping greenhouse gases, heavier rainfall and snow and a higher risk of flooding have been recorded. Research shows that in areas where the air is very hot, we can expect longer spans of drought, and then shorter periods of heavy rains. In Egypt, rainfall varies between 2 millimeters per year in desert areas, to 180 millimeters per year in the North Coast, according to a “The Future Impact of Climate Change on Egyptian Population.” The report maintains that, “The first impact of climate change in Egypt is likely to be felt in the water domain. Water is already a limited resource, with per capita share at the edge of poverty line, below 1000m3 per year. . . . . Both water supply and demand are expected to be [affected] by climate change. It is expected by 2050 that climate change will raise water demand by an average of 5% [and] agriculture will be the most affected economic sector from the shortage of water, consum[ing] 80% of the water budget.”

Abdel Aal explains that the impact of climate change in Egypt is most evident in high temperature, but that rain would not increase as the heat is in the core of the Earth, and not its atmosphere, which means that precipitation over coasts driven by surface evaporation wouldn’t increase with rising temperatures. He affirms, however, that global warming would reduce the frequency of rainfall in Egypt, but make it more intense.

What Is Cloud Seeding?

Cloud seeding means adding “aerosol particles” to the cloud that compete with the naturally existing ones. These small particles are suspended in the atmosphere and range in size from a few nanometers, up to tens of micrometers. They are essential for cloud formation because they function as the surface on which liquid or solid condensation is initialized.

The cloud seeding process is carried out by aircraft, artillery shells and small-sized rockets, special high-altitude fireworks (ejected up to 200 meters in the atmosphere) or from ground-based generators. “The most common seeding material is silver iodide (AgI), which nucleates ice particles at temperatures below about -5 ° C,” according to the WMO’s “Peer Review Report on Global Precipitation Enhancement Activities.” The process can be improved by adding common salt.

As mountains force moist air to rise, contributing to cloud formation and rainfall, spreading ice particles above in the atmosphere along with other substances have given “encouraging results,” according to WMO’s “Peer Review Report on Global Precipitation Enhancement Activities.” The process, known as glaciogenic cloud seeding, produces best results when implementing silver iodide aircraft seeding of clouds that have a natural tendency for precipitation formation, according to the 2018 report. The parameters used to measure the success of the seeding are the stability of the flow over a mountain, the geometry of the mountain, the temperature and stratification of the deeper atmosphere.

Cloud seeding mainly targets two types of clouds in mid-latitude. The first is called frontal systems, where clouds form outside the tropics, most commonly near the mountains peaks during winter. The second type is called liquid or mix-phased convective cloud systems, where clouds form in tropical and subtropical areas in summertime. Those are often intertwined with surface heating, and can be subject to influences by orography (mountain features and formation), as well as convergence of air zones.

In August 2016, the Egyptian Meteorological Authority held a conference and a workshop in collaboration with the German Company WeatherTech under the auspices of the Ministry of Civil Aviation to study how cloud seeding can be implemented in Egypt having an annual amount of precipitation of 1.3 billion cubic meters.

The project should have been officially announced by December of the same year as a committee comprising representatives from the ministries of irrigation, agriculture, environment, and defense would have finished the feasibility study. However, no news on the project has come through since then.

The areas nominated by WeatherTech to implement the project are the Delta and the North Coast. Regardless, the committee would have the final say on the locations as various factors must be taken into consideration such as the suitability of infrastructure in those zones. Southern parts of the country along with moist areas can be included in the project, according to media reports.

The UAE Model

The National Centre for Meteorology (NCM) at the Gulf country - where the annual rainfall rate is around 100 mm - estimates that cloud seeding can boost rainfall by 30-35% in a clean atmosphere, and by up to 10-15% in a dusty atmosphere like the UAE’s.

The NCM started seeding in the 1990s, collaborating in the following decade with NASA and the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in the US. The institution executed 242 and 177 missions in the years 2017 and 2016 respectively.

In the morning after cloud observation by meteorologists, a pilot positions a twin-propeller beneath a cloud base firing salt flares attached to the wings. These flares are composed of potassium chloride (70%), and sodium chloride (13%), in addition to other substances that include magnesium (5%) to control the flame. Both potassium chloride and sodium chloride attract water droplets, and it takes two to three minutes to fire the flares, and 20 minutes to take effect. Convective clouds are detected by radars before cloud seeding, which is almost 60 times cheaper than desalination, is executed. Operations are carried out by six planes four days a week from July to September.
3/27/2019 5:25:31 PM
<![CDATA[Saline Turning Clear ]]>
Understanding Desalination

Professor of Physical Chemistry of Polymers at the American University in Cairo (AUC) Tarek Madkour explains that Salinity is the presence of salt in water and desalination is the process of removing salt from water for the purpose of using it in agriculture, drinking, and others.

To carry out the procedure, it is essential to use materials that differentiate between the water molecules and the salt ions as once the sodium chloride is dissolved in water, it dissociates into sodium and chlorine ions causing salinity.

There are many aspects determining the difference between salt and water molecules, Madkour explains. When sodium chloride is not dissolved in water, it is a solid material, while water in room temperature is a liquid material. Salt is made of ions which are charged particles either positive or negative. On the other hand water is a neutral polar compound. Salt molecules are round-shaped while water molecules are V-shaped and smaller than salt molecules.

Desalination 1
Multi Stage Flash Desalination Plant at Jebel Ali G Station (Dubai) supplied by Weir Westgarth Ltd – CC via Wikimedia Commons/Starsend

Desalination Techniques

The frequent awards winner explains that determining the desalination technique is intertwined with the aspect setting the difference between salt and water.

The distillation technique depends on the difference in form. In room temperature, salt is a solid material that has a very high of boiling and melting points. In order to liquidate such particles by melting and not by dissolving, it has to be exposed to very high temperature surpassing 100 degrees. Thereby, salt remains solid at the bottom of the vessel after seawater boils at 100 degrees and evaporates.

The second technique is called reverse osmosis (RO) and it is the most common in present. The concept is similar to the process assumed by plants to acquire water. The roots possess semi-permeable membranes to suck water from the soil, the professor clarifies.

Reverse osmosis desalination plant – Wikimedia Commons

Osmosis means that there are two liquid on each side of the membrane so that pure water moves into saline water. RO involves applying pressure using pumps on the saline compartment that exceeds the osmotic pressure so that pure water would escape the saline water into the pure water compartment. The technique depends on size as water molecules are smaller than salt ions.

Semi-permeable membranes are not exclusive to desalination as they are also used to purify water from bacteria, and any other contaminant particles. All water plants the government is currently building use that technique.

Membranes used for desalination are made of several materials. The most common one is the biological polymers. Those should be extracted from the plants' roots but as that would not be sufficient on a large scale, biological material is prepared in laboratories. Major examples are cellulose acetate, polysulfones (PSF), and polyamides, Madkour clarifies highlighting that there can be more than one membrane stacked above each other to acquire strength, toughness, and specific degrees of permeability.

The membranes capacity to assume their function properly is determined by the amount of water desalinated. For biological membranes like cellulose to last longer, it can be blended with stronger natural material so it would not weaken over time and rupture. Those materials can be polycarbonate lactone and glycolic acid. The professor himself is involved in research studying possible enhancements in capacity, durability, and bio-degradable properties.

The third and last technique is ion exchange. That has been around for 40 years. That method depends on chemical interactions between saline water and certain chemical compounds in the form of a non-permeable membrane whereas the fluid passes around it turning into potable water.


Distillation has major drawbacks, Madkour says. One is that the usage of many huge heaters consumes a large amount of electricity and energy. In the past, oil prices were not as high as now so currently other techniques would be more feasible. Another disadvantage is that salt residues corrode the inside of these heaters and increase the saline concentration of the water. Thus, they have to be regularly cleaned and replaced.

In case of RO, energy used to apply pressure in RO is a disadvantage. Another is fouling of the membranes which occurs as salt particles accumulate in the pores so it must be regularly regenerated (cleaned) to not clog the pathway of the water and replaced. Another option is using bio-degradable membranes as artificial materials like plastic would hurt the environment after disposal.

Salt Mine – CC via flickr/AHLN

Membranes would be subject to life-cycle assessment (LCA) to determine when their capacity would decline. The professor is now involved in a research project that studies designing environment friendly bio-degradable membranes so that they would degrade fast in the soil providing it with necessary nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Also, the salt inside can be collected and sold.

As for ion exchange, the drawback is high accumulation of salt on the surface of the membrane so it has to be thrown away. That was not viable economically and environmentally.

"Now, there is nanotechnology. So every time the membrane is used, it is possible to peel a nanometer," Madkour clarifies as that is another research project he works on. The peeling is done before the water runs using electro spinning technique so that water infiltrates through all layers instead of around them exchanging ions with all of them.

Whether in RO or ion exchange, the membranes capacity and number of layers should be designed to fit the degree of salinity of water.


Seawater is channeled to the plant through pumps that have to be made of materials that would not be corroded by salt. There are two types of processes. One is discrete process that is pumping seawater to be preserved in a tank and desalinated gradually. That is an old method that was wasting time.

Now, continuous process is used whereas many procedures take place simultaneously to pumping using small pipes. That technique is used pre-dominantly in ion exchange. RO uses the continuous process but with controlled pump pressure.

Desalinated Water

Distillation can produce tap water if the technique is perfect. However, in the past desalinated water could have been mixed with brackish water so it would include a little higher content of salinity than it should. Another drawback applying for both distillation and RO is that desalinated water may lack minerals that exist in natural fresh water and that the body needs as well as have an unusual taste.

Water pouring from a faucet into a clear glass cup – cc via Flickr/ USEPA Environmental-Protection-Agency

Madkour explains that rivers and streams corrode banks as they run dissolving minerals. The concentration of such salts is not high as a huge amount of water comes in from clouds while salt has been accumulating in seawater as it evaporates but salt continues to be concentrated throughout thousands of years.

Using the pH measure, which determines the degree of acidity or alkalinity in water, pure H2O is at pH7. For the Nile or any other river, its water would be at pH6.5 because of the minerals it contains. "People got used to the taste of that water for thousands of years. If they drink pure water, they would not like its taste," the professor highlights.

Madkour clarifies that bottled water companies add missing minerals including potassium, sodium, and magnesium in the plant following desalination. Desalinated water is safe in the meaning it would not cause "direct harm." Yet, people have to ensure they are making up for missing minerals in their diet or resort to bottled water.

The professor explains that the government plans to form satellite communities in remote areas that would depend on agriculture. Hence, water needs have to be fulfilled without connecting to national grids. That is because they are in full capacity and the costs of extending pipes over such large distances would be very high. He added that the desalination plants being built to produce drinkable water would definitely add necessary minerals before pumping to networks.

Ongoing Desalination Projects

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi inaugurated in January a desalination plant in Hurghada that is considered to be the largest in the Middle East stretching on 56,000 square meters with a daily capacity of 80,000 cubic meters. The project called “Al Yosr” was executed in a cost of LE845 million.

However, the plant’s daily production is currently just 40,000 cubic meters. It will work in full capacity when all renovation works in the water and sewage networks is finished supplying water for the entire city.

Seawater is pumped through two pipes - the width of each is 1.25 meter - supplying 1,400 cubic meters per hour without the need of any engines. The procedure is undertaken over three stages. The first consists of removing any solid bodies or pollutants by adding certain chemicals and channeling the water through filters.

The second is called Multimedia Filtration so that water passes through filters having an area of 350 square meters each and containing layers of sand, pebbles, and activated carbon. That procedures removes 90 percent of impurities.

Finally, the water goes through fine filters before the RO starts. Al Yosr is designed to receive water whose salinity is up to 45,000 milligrams per cubic meter removing 99 percent of it.

Before the completion of that plant, the total amount of water desalinated in Egypt was just one million cubic meters per annum. The state is executing plants in Matrouh and Dabaa with a total daily capacity of 100,000 cubic meters in addition to others in South Sinai. The capacity of each is 20,000 cubic meters per day.

Desalination 2
FILE - Desalination plant in South Sinai – Egypt Today

The largest desalination plant worldwide is under construction in Al Ain Al Sokhna with a daily capacity of 164,000 cubic meters to fulfill the needs of the economic zone northeastern the Suez Golf.

Three others are being built in Galala, eastern Port Said, and New Alamein City. That is part of a plan to build desalination plants in all new coastal cities. By the end of this year, six desalination plants will enter into service.

The capacity of the second one is 250,000 cubic meters per day but will start with only 150,000 cubic meters. Twenty percent of its construction, funded by a KWD 35 million loan from Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, is finished.

A desalination plant is under construction in Upper Egypt in Shalatin at a cost of LE200 million. The plant capacity is 20,000 cubic meters per day but will start by producing just 3,000 cubic meters daily.

A desalination plant will be operated on two stages at Red Sea’s Abou Ramad. The daily amount produced in the first is 1,500 cubic meters to hit 4,500 cubic meters in the second.
3/12/2019 5:42:26 PM
<![CDATA[Understanding Renewable Energy]]>
And with these ambitious industrialization and urbanization plans, the New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) has adopted a strategy since 2016 to increase the sector’s contribution to Egypt’s energy from the current 10% to 20% by 2022, boosting the country’s dependence on renewable energy. The breakdown would be 12% for wind energy, 2% for solar energy, and 6% for hydropower.

According to the authority, the most suitable areas for generating wind energy are the western Gulf of Suez, the eastern and western deserts of the Nile river, and some locations in Sinai.

In an effort to reach a total capacity of of 7 gigawatts from wind farms in the Gulf of Suez by 2022, several projects are already under way. Orascom – Engie – Toyota Tsusho consortium have commenced working on a 250-megawatt wind farm in the Gulf of Suez earlier this year at a $400 million cost. They have also inked a $650 million deal to build a 500-megawatt wind farm in the Gulf of Suez’s Ras Gharib. The farm would also save up to 420,000 tons of fuel annually, decreasing emissions of carbon dioxide by 1.1 tons. Another wind farm was inaugurated on July 24 in Gabal El Zeit, with a capacity of 580 megawatts and encompassing 300 turbines.

In a country that enjoys plenty of sunshine all year round, the state is heavily promoting investments in solar energy. Egypt has begun building the largest solar energy station in the world, encompassing 40 plants, in Benban, Aswan, with a capacity of 1,650 megawatts and a $4 billion cost. The first plant, “Infinity,” already started operating this year, with a capacity of 50 megawatts. A solar energy station will be built in Kom Ombo city in Aswan with a capacity of 26 megawatts and at a cost of $46.7 million. One more will be constructed in Hurghada with a capacity of 20 megawatts. Three others with a capacity of 50 megawatts each will be built as well, one in Zaafarana, Red Sea Governorate. Solar energy has also been used in some public institutions buildings across the country, as well as a number of residential buildings, largely through foreign aid financing.

Dissecting renewable energy systems

Renewable energy systems are either on-grid or off grid. The former means that the system is connected to the regular electricity network, the extra energy produced goes to the network and the system switches to regular electricity. In case of investors building and operating renewable energy plants, they get paid by the state. Domestic users installing PV (photovoltaics) panels, on the other hand, pay the difference between regular energy they consume and renewable energy they produce. While on-the-grid systems are easier and cheaper to install, they are not able to save energy and must be connected to the network to operate. Off-the-grid systems, however, are more expensive and complicated to install and are isolated from the regular networks, but they have batteries to store energy. Wael El-Nashar, president and CEO of Onera Systems, explains that an off-the-grid system is useful to provide electricity for cellular networks, billboards, street lighting, and remote residential areas. El Nashar elaborates that these systems contain batteries to save energy for the night, in the case of solar energy, or when there is no or weak wind.

Hatem El Roumy, CEO of Triple M for Renewable Energy, adds that the batteries’ lifespan is three to eight years. He suggests that, if the location allows, it is better to build a hybrid system where solar energy would be available in the morning, while wind energy would work overnight. That would improve the batteries’ life by feeding it with energy, up to 80%, so that it would not drop below 20% and risk damage.

Professor of physics at the American University in Cairo and Provost Ehab Abdel Rahman, however, says that batteries are quite costly which constitutes a disadvantage for the offgrid system.

Because on-the-grid systems cannot store energy and feed directly into the network, but are more affordable and simpler to install for the average consumer, they are more suitable for households, farms and office buildings as PV panels can just be installed on rooftops, El Nashar clarifies. He adds that they are beneficial in reducing the amount of electricity consumed from regular sources as well as lowering the consumer’s purchasing tranche.

Despite the initially high cost of installation, El-Nashar advises the gradual switch to renewable energy as it is more cost-efficient on the longer-term, and adds that a gradual switch may be more financially feasible for those who can’t afford the initial investment. In factories, for instance, solar energy would decrease operating costs dramatically, that the panels would cover their cost over five to six years.

Whereas solar panels have a lifespan of 25 years, same as wind turbines, they require less maintenance than turbines, and only need to be cleaned regularly. Turbines, on the other hand, cost 2% of their initial price in maintenance.

Alternative renewable energy

Renewable energy, however, does not come without its shortcomings. From lack of stability to wasted energy, even alternative energy sources need alternative technology.

El Roumy advises opting for on-the-grid turbines, as wind speed are not generally stable. Although Gabal El Zeit area is ideal for wind energy, the area lacks wind for 28 days annually. Generally speaking, the best locations in Egypt for generating wind energy are the Red Sea coast, and Western Minya.

Abdel Rahman explains that solar energy is not continuous, so the production is not stable. “Thus, the grid has to be smart enough not to be impacted negatively by the intermittency of the solar energy,” he says, adding that solar cells are made of rare earth elements which are finite.

Abdel Rahman explains that the alternative technology is concentrated solar power using heat engines. The maintenance of those includes looking after the engines and cleaning the mirrors. This technology is more durable because it uses glass and iron. By contrast, PV panels are subject to decreasing capacity by time and by excessive heat.

Solar energy plants efficiency are estimated at less than 20%, but Abdel Rahman explains that waste energy from the cells can be used to heat water by installing water pipes underneath. The heat comes from infrared radiation (IR) absorbed by solar cells, which just need visible range of solar radiation, but end up absorbing also IR and UV (ultraviolet radiation).

Wind energy has some advantages over solar energy as the turbines require just 20% of the space needed to install PV panels, and it produces more than double the energy produced by solar, El Roumy explains. In case of solar, one megawatt would cost $750,000 producing 5.5 megawatts per hour, and 6 kilowatts per hour would provide electricity for a house for 25 years. In case of wind, one megawatt would cost $1 million, producing 11.5 megawatts per hour.

Off-grid solar energy can also be used without batteries when using solar-powered pump in what is known as solar irrigation from dawn till sunset, El Roumy says.

All three experts praise the feed-in tariff law that was first promulgated in 2014, and amended in 2017 for its role in boosting the usage of renewable energy in the country. Abdel Rahman also suggests that lifting subsidies would help changing the people’s mindset to switch to renewable energy which is cheaper.

The AUC provost revealed that the university is working on developing thermoacoustic heat engines. When exposed to heat, the engines would produce acoustic waves causing magnet to move quickly through a coil of copper wire so that electrons move and electricity is produced. That is characterized by durability (30 years) and efficiency. However, a life cycle cost analysis is still underway.

Abdel Rahman concludes that Egypt has many calibers who can operate renewable energy plants, as well as many potential workers who can be trained to take on jobs in the field. Currently, however, the great majority of companies working in the solar energy sector assemble solar cells rather than produce them, in addition to providing maintenance services. ]]>
2/16/2019 6:08:36 PM
<![CDATA[How do Egyptians celebrate Valentine’s Day?]]>
Reda Anwar, 65

Valentine’s Day for me is a day to celebrate the women in my life: My wife and my two daughters. We live in an era where technology has taken over and the increase of communication channels has somehow managed to dig a trench between individuals; the increasing amount of people you talk to everyday has led one to forget to show their loved ones that they really care. So, it is important to but the hustle and bustle of life aside and celebrate your love for each other. On Valentine’s Day, we, as a family, put everything aside and enjoy each other’s company.

In the morning, we have breakfast together as a family and we talk about everyday issues, and then I have lunch with my girls and wife, and then we spend the remainder of the evening talking and teasing each other. We tend to walk down memory lane as a family and reminisce about what my wife and I used to do in the good old days. I end up telling them stories that I have told them time and time again, but they still listen. The most important thing for us is to engage on Valentine’s Day. It is our day to just forget about everything outside and talk to each other. Of course, I do buy my wife and two girls gifts in celebration of the day.

Linda Abdelaal, 53

Valentine’s Day for me is like any other day of the year. I do not do anything special on that day or celebrate. Given that I am single and not looking to date anyone in the near future, Valentine’s Day is one of the days that reminds me that I am single and do not wish to meet someone or become part of a culture that pushes women to act out and to dress in a certain way or eat certain foods to gain the attention and affection of men.

This Valentine’s Day, like any other one, I will be spending the day at home with my father, and will be watching TV alone. I will probably go on to spend an hour or so reading a novel and drinking some tea. The worst thing that I have to go through every Valentine’s Day is the annoying, demeaning, and often embarrassing, comments from my friends and family. I am tired of people telling me, “Don’t worry, next Valentine’s Day you will be celebrating with someone special,” or trying to set me up with dates or offering to set me up on a blind date. I feel that this day is just a reminder for me that people around me do not appreciate my decision to stay single.

Mohamed Khaled, 39

I have been married for about 14 years now and have a 12-year-old girl and a nine-year-old boy. On Valentine’s Day, my wife and I make sure to include our children in our celebration, and we celebrate in the next evening by going out on our own.

Right now, my daughter is at a delicate age where her friends are starting to date and they are staring to develop crushes and feelings for others, and it is important for me to make sure that she feels that she is loved and that she does not need to resort to a boy in order to be with someone on Valentine’s Day. It is a father’s role to teach his daughter that she does not need a man to make her happy and that she can be happy with others; life is not all about being in a relationship and she surely does not need to be in one to feel loved, validated or accomplished. Gone are the days when women needed men to do things or to guide them, and my daughter needs to know this and act on it. So, February 14 for me is all about making my girl feel loved and happy; it is about building her up to be a strong women, just like her mother.

Rana Heshmat, 36

It’s a day for my husband and I—no kids, no work, no nothing. We take the day off and we just spend it together. It is our time to forget about the world; we usually drop the kids off to their grandparents the night before and enjoy each other’s company. The night before, I usually spend time decorating the whole house with balloons, paper hearts and different things. Then, I bake a heart-shaped cake or some cookies that I decorate with red icing for the next day.

Then, on the day, we sleep in and then my husband brings me breakfast in bed, and, we attempt to speak about our kids, our year, our love for each other, but, we usually end up wanting to play video games—we both used to love playing video games but we don’t have that much time for it since we have a seven-year-old and a three-year-old. We then often look at old photo albums from when we used to be in university and this leads us to much more banter and laughs, and we snack until about 6 p.m., and then we get up to make dinner together. We usually then have a candle-lit dinner followed by watching a movie with popcorn and chocolate.

I guess if I had to sum it all up, Valentine’s Day for my husband and me is a day to forget about the kids, life and all the hardship that we went through the years, and just focus on the two of us together. We go back to the basics: The two of us.

Mohamed Aly, 29

It’s all about making my girlfriend and partner feel special. I have been with my girl for about eight months now and we try to make each other feel as loved as we possibly can by celebrating the little things and standing by each other in the face of hardship.

Valentine’s is about expressing my love for her and showing her that I truly care about her by dedicating an entire day to love. Recently, we were talking to each other and we realised that we had forgotten all about Valentine’s Day and that we should—as society often pushes us—celebrate, to which we both replied simultaneously, “We treat everyday like Valentine’s anyway.” This is not to say that we will not celebrate, but to us, we already try to show each other how much we care about one another every day and we work to make ourselves each other’s safe zone. So, on the day, I will be buying flowers, chocolate from her favourite shop and a couple of books that she had her eyes on, and will be treating her to a romantic dinner in a restaurant she has been wanting to try.

On Valentine’s Day, it is important to express your love to one another, even if you do this everyday, because feeling that others do and that you do not could resonate on your relationship.

Carol Michael, 28

Valentine’s Day is a day to express my love for the people around me. I celebrate my friends, family and fiancé. In the morning, I go to work as usual, and then I meet with my girl friends briefly for lunch; we have had this tradition for a few years now. We began this tradition when we were all single and then a couple of us started dated and the rest were single and we felt that in order for us to support each other, we need to continue this tradition. Now, we are all either dating, having a fiancé or are married and we still have lunch with each other ever Valentine’s Day to remind ourselves that guys come and go but friends—real friends—stay.

I then go out with my fiancé for dinner. I do not like how busy the streets are on the day but I feel that we need to celebrate; we need to show our love to the world and to each other. We go out for a quick dinner and, like we have done for six years now, this is the sixth year, we go for a stroll on the banks of the Nile River and buy sweet potatoes or corn. It is so beautiful at night. We walks around, recalling our university days, when we didn’t have much money and would typically spend our nights out together walking along the Nile River.

Abdullah Salah, 23

I work in event management and so Valentine’s Day is a heavy-work day for us; every holiday is important to us, that is when we work most. This means that I have to celebrate Valentine’s Day with my girlfriend in the morning because I will be working in the evening. If I am being completely honest, Valentine’s Day is not at all important to me. I do not care for it. I do not get the idea of dedicating a day to show someone that I love them. If I love them everyday, why should I spend money and buy a gift on a specific day to show them this? My actions should be showing her this year-round.

That being said, my girlfriend of four years does like to be treated, pampered and feel loved; she also has friends who celebrate, so if we do not celebrate, she will not be very happy with me. To show her that she is loved, I often make her a gift for V-Day. Last year, I made her a wooden lantern and the year before I made her a multi-layer make-up box that has lights on the side. I am pretty good at making things out of wood and I know she likes it when I spend time on her gifts; that’s why I also try to make her something for Valentine’s Day and then by her a gift on her actual birthday. Basically, the day is about work and making my girlfriend happy.

Fatma El-Bakry, 22

In my opinion, Valentine’s Day is not limited for lovers instead it’s a call for love where all people should reveal their emotions to their lovers.

Being single since I was born; I used to have distinct customs and habits on that day. I buy lots of presents to all my close friends and family members. I feel a need to express my gratitude and thanks to all of them for their sustainable support in hard times, giving me a hand and being my special consultants who always reckon. I usually hang out with my friends, cruising in streets at night aimlessly, cheering up, listening to our favorite music and songs and talking loudly at the same time. We eat all our favorite delicious food that do not go together. We eat Sushi with Caesar Salad and pizza, ending with lots of candy and chocolates. It is ok if we add to that one or two—sometimes three—slices of tart in our already-fully belly.

I also feel the need to have a new haircut and new hair style. For instance, last year I turned some strands of my hair into blue. Yes, definitely mum screamed, “damn you!” Yet it was a new experience I really enjoyed it. The day would not end without going to a spa, undergoing a journey of relaxation and serenity purging all stress and tension away. Finally, I return home, take a shower and stare at mirror, repeating, “I am so beautiful and lovely; guys are idiots and blind.” Before going to bed I pray to God thanking Him on all his graces. I kiss and hug mom and dad, thanking them for their endless love and understanding. Then I go to bed and dream of Paradise.
2/14/2019 4:39:11 PM
<![CDATA[Stunning Natural Hair Updos for Special Occasions]]>
Inspiration has no end! Photographer Malak Abaza wore her hair naturally not only to one special occasion, but to most of them, and she couldn’t be happier! Abaza usually styles her hair in a beautiful messy bun to suit her floral dresses.

Going to a special occasion with your hair done naturally is one thing, nailing that occasion with your hair in the transitional phase is another! Even though she is still in the transitional phase, Shorouk took a brave step and decided to flaunt her natural hair on a special occasion. “I finally gathered enough courage and confidence and wore my natural hair to an engagement party. I ended up encouraging all the ladies attending to give themselves a break from the heat (and all other damaging hair routines) and enjoy being their authentic, beautiful selves,” she says.

From one special occasion to another, Yara Azmy styles her natural hair in an elegant updo and always looks absolutely stunning! For this style, she only used flexi rods and flaxseed gel, and left it in overnight.

Another motivating example is Summer, who challenged her entire family so she could wear her hair naturally on her wedding day. Not only did she challenge social norms and her own family, but she also inspired us to believe in the power and beauty of natural hair. This style was beautifully made by The Hair Addict’s Yara Abdeen.

Girl power is real! Laila Fahmy and her sister, Amira, rocked their natural hair at an event. Their top tip for the look: Wear a high necked shirt to complement and accentuate your up-dos.

Get inspired by these natural updos and try them out yourself this holiday season. Hats off to every woman out there who celebrates her natural beauty!

This article was developed exclusively for Egypt Today. Follow the Hair Addict on Facebook/Instagram


2/14/2019 11:57:00 AM
<![CDATA[The Arts in 2018]]>
In December the Faculty of Fine Arts in Zamalek celebrated the 110th anniversary of its establishment with an art exhibition organized by the faculty. Artists, professors of fine arts and students attended the show which included the artistic works of a group of faculty professors in various fields plus a music and drama program.

My Name Is Nour, an Egyptian documentary addressing Down Syndrome, was chosen to participate in the ninth edition of the Meknes International Youth Film Festival set to take place in February 2019. Meanwhile, Egyptian director Marwan Hamed won the Best Director Award on his movie Turab El-Mass’ (Diamond Dust) at the first edition of Casablanca Arab Film Festival. Based on the novel of the same name by Ahmed Mourad, the movie stars Asser Yassin, Menna Shalaby, Maged el-Kidwany, Ezzat al-Alayly, Mohamed Mamdouh, Khaled al-Sawy and Sawsan Badr.

The National Cinema Festival was also held in November where Amr Saad won the Best Actor award for his role in Mawlana (The Preacher), Egyptian actress Heba Ali took home the Best Actress award for her role in the move AkhdarYabes (Withered Green). Meanwhile, the Best Director award went to acclaimed Egyptian director Marwan Hamed for his film Al -Aslyeen (The Originals).

Fall saw the makers of Egyptian horror movie 122 announce they are done with the film, the first of its kind in Egypt to use 4DX technology, which allows the observer to literally “live” the film while watching it combine many sensory factors. The movie is directed by Iraqi Yasser el-Yassery and stars Amina Khalil, Tarek Lotfy, Ahmed el-Fishawy, Mamdouh Mohammed, Gihan Khalil, and Mohammed Dawood.

The 27th Arab Music Festival, honoring Egyptian singing and acting icon Shadia, ran between November 1 and November 13. Organised by the Cairo Opera House, the festival hosted 43 concerts in seven different halls in Cairo, Alexandria, Damanhur and Tanta, where 72 musicians from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain and Jordan participated. The participants included Hani Shaker, Medhat Saleh, Iman el-Bahr Darwish, Ali el Haggar and Mohamed Tharwat from Egypt, Assi el-Helani, Wael Jassar, Ramy Ayach, Majda el-Roumi from Lebanon, in addition to Tunisian singers SaberReba? and Latifa, as well as Kuwaiti singer Nawal.

The National Cinema Center, headed by Khaled Abdel Jalil, in collaboration with the Cultural Development Fund, headed by Fathy Abdel Wahab, inaugurated on Saturday, October 27 the firstcinema club consisting ofdisabled and handicapped individuals.

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina will issue its first Italian publication in 2019, and the first knowledge embassy of the bibliotheca will inaugurate in Europe in cooperation with the Catholic University in Milan, Italy.

Minister of Culture Ines Abdel Dayem decided to revive the Cairo International Fine Art Biennale after a 10-year hiatus, and its new edition “Toward the East” is slated to launch in April 2019.

The 34th edition of Alexandria International Film Festival for Mediterranean Countries (AIFF) awarded veteran actress Nadia Lotfy the shield as Bride of the Mediterranean for playing a great role in enriching Arab cinema.

Egyptian actress Donia Samir Ghanem participated in the initiative of Dubai Governor, Mohamed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, to launch a school serving students across the MENA region.

Lebanese singer Elissa expressed her happiness for being chosen as ambassador of the breast cancer awareness campaign. Elissa revealed her struggle with the disease in her latest clip Ela Kol Ely Beyheboony (To All Those Who Love Me).

Wrestling star and Hollywood actor John Cena will participate in an Egyptian film named El Tagroba el Mexicia (The Mexican Experience). El Tagroba el Mexiciais produced by Hussain Al Qolla and written by Mahmoud Hemdan and Mohamed Mehrez. John Cena will appear in the movie as himself.

Famed Egyptian star Ahmed Ezz received the best actor award, while Sherine Reda received the best actress award from Arabian Cinema Awards on October 12.

The 10th edition of Cairo Jazz Festival took place on October 11. Among the international stars who participated in the festival are Syria’s Lynn Adib, Portugual’sRita Maria, Austria’sDavid Halbuck, Czechslovakia’s Dan Barta, Hungaria’sEsther Fakzi and the Jerome Klein band from Luxembourg, Egyptian-German band Cairo Steps, Egyptian Singer Nouran Abu Taleb, as well as the Egyptian bands Hawidro and Baghdadi.

Egypt participated in the 2018 Frankfurt International Book Fair, held from October 11 to 14. The Egyptian pavilion at the fair promoted for the Golden Jubilee of the Cairo International Book Fair, which will take place in2019.

Egypt hosted the 21st edition of the Arab Culture Ministries Conference on October 14 and 15.Minister of Culture Inas Abdel Dayem and Minister of Communication and Information Technology Amr Talaat discussed new methods to create a digital cultural platform. The two ministers aim to cooperatively document all the Ministry of Culture’s activities through audios, visuals, prints, documents and blogs.

With festival season in full swing, the 34th edition of the Alexandria Film Festival for Mediterranean Countries (AIFF) was held on Wednesday, October 3, at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. Two days later, on October 5, the eighth edition of the Malmo Arab Film Festival took place. The 22nd edition of the National Film Festival (NFF), entitled “Eternal Moments,” took place on October 22.

On September 2, Minister of Culture Ines Abdel Dayem officially appointed Dr. Ashraf Zaki as the new president of the Academy of Arts, the Cairo International Festival for Contemporary and Experimental Theatre kicked off on September 6 at the Higher Council for Culture, and famed Egyptian singer Tamer Hosny hit the one-billion views mark on all his songs on his YouTube channel.

Celebrating cinema greats, Zawya Cinema screened 20 newly restored films by late iconic Egyptian director Youssef Chahine after reopening its new venue, while Gouna names one of its city streets after the Egyptian superstar Youssra on September 1.

Minister of Culture Inas Abdel Dayem launched the Salah el-Din International Citadel Festival for Music and Singing in its 27th round on Thursday, August 2 at the Mahka Theatre at the citadel. She honoured the artistic figures who greatly impacted the festival’s success: veteran singers Hany Shaker and Medhat Saleh, as well as violin player Alaa Khalil, director Sayed Amin AbouElhoda, critic KarimanHerk, Mohamed Hamdy and piano maintenance expert Hatem Mansour.

Egyptian comedian Mohmed Sharaf passed away on Friday, July 28 at the age of 55 after a long struggle with heart disease.

Acclaimed film Turab el-Mass was released in Egyptian cinemas on October 10. Also around that time, Amr Diab released his latest album KolHayati (All My Life) and Sherine Abdel Wahab released Nasai (Forgetful)

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) cooperated with Bibliotheca Alexandrina to launch the Music for Development project during the 16th International Summer Festival, hosted by the Bibliotheca.

Egyptian play “Mama” participated in the most prominent theatrical festival in the world, Festival d’Avignon in France. “Mama” is directed and written by founder of the Temple Independent Theatre Company Ahmed el-Attar.

The Egyptian Film Week held in Belgrade achieved booming success and witnessed the attendance of a large number of people. The film week was organised by the Egyptian Embassy in Belgrade, in cooperation with the Yugoslav Film Museum (Kinoteka) and the Arab Cultural Centre in Serbia.

Baalbeck International Festival, the oldest and most prominent cultural festival in the Middle East,ran from July 20 to August 18 and honoured legendary Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum in its opening ceremony.

Minister of Culture Ines Abdeldayem announced that the Egyptian Ministry of Culture decided to create the first documented archive of Egyptian cinema and heritage since 1896, naming it “Egyptian Cinematic.”

Graffiti artists drew famous icons of Egypt such as Mohamed Salah, Umm Kulthum, Naguib Mahfouz and many others on the walls of Downtown Cairo. Graffiti artist Ahmed Fathy, also known as El Na2ash, explained that they chose to fight radicalism and the status quo through art.

Elham Shahin was appointed honorary president of CAM Festival in Tunisia, which focuses on short films, documentaries and stories.

The Gold of the Pharaohs exhibition kicked off in Monaco, showcasing 149 ancient masterpieces from the Egyptian Museum. The huge, unique event was hosted by The Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, between July 7 and September 9, under the auspices of Prince Albert II and the Egyptian government.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences responsible for awarding the Oscar prizes announced that 12 Arab filmmakers are now members of the academy in the categories of writing, directing, acting, documentary, animation and production. The new Arab members who joined the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are Lebanese director ZiadDoueiri, Lebanese screenwriter Joelle Touma, Palestinian director Annemarie Jacir, Lebanese director Nadine Labaki, Algerian actress Sofia Boutella, Palestinian actress Hiam Abbas, Tunisian producer Dora Bouchoucha, Syrian director Feras Fayyad, Egyptian director Mohamed Siam, Lebanese producer Antoun Sehnaoui, Tunisian producer Sa?d Ben Sa?d and Egyptian Disney animator Yasser Hamed.

The Arab Arts Focus (AAF) event crossed borders for the second time to participate in the Avignon Le OFF arts festival in France, which was heldJuly 6-24. The AAF program at the festival included five performances from four Arab countries, including Egypt, Palestine, Morocco, and Lebanon.

Egyptian musician Michael el-Masry passed away at the age of 85. Born in 1933 in Cairo, Masry was a violinist, composer and music producer. The musician created more than 100 soundtracks, songs, and operas, most notably the soundtracks of series like “Layali al-Helmiya” (Helmiya nights), “Meen mabiyhebish Fatima” (Who doesn’t love Fatima?), “Aelat al-Hag Metwali” (Metwali’s family).

The 9th edition of Beirut International Awards Festival (BIAF) honoured Egyptian stars Hakim and Angham on June 29.

The Egyptian National Theatre Festival honoured writer Mahmoud Diab in its 11th round.

The Serbian National Museum, the largest and oldest in the Balkans, convened a roundtable entitled “Ancient Egypt in Serbian Society” on July 12.
The first session of the Arab-Chinese literature forum kicked off on June 21 in Cairo.
Egyptian virtuoso musician Omar Khairat performed a dazzling concert at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg on Monday, June 18 on the sidelines of the FIFA World Cup.

Scott Adkins (Boyka) participated for the first time in Egyptian cinema in Harb Karmouz, starring Egyptian Amir Karara and directed by Peter Mimi.
The Arab Arts Focus (AAF) event participated in the Avignon Le OFF art festival, which was held from July 8 to 24.

An Egyptian exhibition, under the theme “Robabecciah: The informal city,” ran from May 26 to November 25 at the 16th edition of the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. Here in Cairo, the Arab Digital Expression Foundation (ADEF) was held on June 23 the Moqattam Arts and Technology Festival.

The sixth edition of “India by the Nile” festival ran from March 6 to March 17, showcasing multidisciplinary performances. Legendary Indian sarod player and musician Ustad Amjad Ali Khan launched the first music performance of the annual “India by the Nile” festival.

The Aswan Women International Film Festival kicked off, in the name of famed Algerian heroine Djamila Bouhired. Egyptian star Mona Zaki was honoured in the festival’s opening ceremony. The closing ceremony witnessed the honouring of famous American actor Danny Glover, Egyptian director Attiat el-Abnoudy, director and producer Marian Khoury, and costume designer Nahed Nasrallah.

A Year of Firsts, Awards and Achievements

?Egyptian singer Sherine Abdel Wahab performed a ladies-only concert for the first time in Saudi Arabia at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.
?Minister of Culture Ines Abdel-Dayem honoured veteran actor Ezzat El-Alaily during a ceremony held by the National Center for Theater.
?Palestinian-Jordanian writer Ibrahim Nasrallah won the 11th International Prize for Arabic Fiction on Tuesday for his novel “The Second War of the Dog”.
?In April Minister of Culture Ines Abdel Dayem received the German Jazz Music Award, which went to Egyptian-German ensemble Cairo Steps.
?Cairo’s Citadel hosted the third day of the International Festival for Drums and Traditional Arts.
?Egyptian series “Grand Hotel” became the first Arabic series to ever be featured on Netflix.
?The National Arab Music Ensemble of Cairo Opera House performed two concerts in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 25 and 26.
?The second edition of Cairo Cinema Days Festival kicked off on April 23.
?The Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abul-Gheit inaugurated a book fair at the library of the pan-Arab organization.
?Egypt’s Goethe Film Week was held April 12-19.
?Egyptian author Ahmad al-Qarmalawi was one of the winners of the 2017-2018 Zayed Book Award.
?The 14th edition of the Alexandria International Book Fair ran from March 31 until April 9, 2018
?The sixth Cairo Contemporary Music Days ran from April 14 to April 29, focusing on German contribution to contemporary music.
?The second Jazz Tales Music Festival ran from April 10 to April 14.
?A depiction of one of the most renowned pharaohs in history, Hatshepsut, was found by Egyptology lecturer Kenneth Griffin from Swansea University.
?The 7th edition of the Luxor African Film Festival was held March 16-22 under the auspices of President Sisi at the Temple of Deir al-Bahri.
?Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, the sovereign ruler of the Emirate of Sharjah, honoured veteran Egyptian theatrical artist Mohamed Sobhy.
?President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi approved Luxor becoming the capital of arts and culture.
2/4/2019 11:15:07 AM
<![CDATA[2019 Crystal Ball]]>
According to the horoscopes expert, Leo and Sagittarius are expected to be the luckiest and will enjoy a wonderful year. Taurus comes in second, then Libra and Aquarius, and Aries comes fourth. Unfortunately, Gemini and Capricorn will have the least luck this year.

Around the world Fouad expects “2019 will be a fiery year” because it starts on a Tuesday, which means that its horoscope is Mars, “the planet of wars”. She predicts that 2019 will be a year of crises, and will witness wars but will end with prosperity.

As Fouad predicts from the planetary influences, the Mars year will see positive progress in the Russian-Ukrainian relations, bringing some sort of calmness and stability. Communication and transportation will witness major leap in 2019; and the most abundant crops in 2019 will be wheat, barley and lentil. And at the end of the year, there will be an increase in fisheries and dairy products, in addition to prosperity in global trade.

Nevertheless, the planetary positions show that 2019 will see a global economic crisis. “The presence of Saturn in Capricorn will lead to a global economic crisis, like what happened in 2018 and will continue through to 2020 because Saturn will stay in Capricorn for three years,’’ Fouad explains.

This year will witness death of youths, strife in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria and a big crisis in Iran, Fouad forecasts, adding that war will resume in Syria, and major transformations will occur in Yemen.

“Although he is a Sagittarius and 2019 is supposedly a lucky year for him, Emmanuel Macron will quit his position, I predicted this from his date of birth because not all people with the same sign have the same luck, the day you were born plays an important role,’’ Fouad says, adding that Macron was born on Dec. 21 and his birth date indicates that he will face a stage end and that he will feel both sad and angry, so most probably his presidency will end.

“The unluckiest presidents in 2019 are the Turkish president Erdogan, the Yemeni president Abdrabbuh Mansur and Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani,” Fouad predicts, adding Erdogan will be frustrated and will face a financial crisis. Theresa May will face a transition period so most probably she will leave her position, she adds. “We can say that 2019 is the year of fluctuation for all the presidents.”

The lucky celebrities in 2019 are Laila Elwi, Dorra, Dina El-Sherbiny, Angham, Assala and Wael Kafoury. ”The least lucky celebrities in 2019 are Ola Ghanem, Mohamed Ramadan, Ghada Adel and Elissa. Artists who will be out of the spotlights in 2019 are Ahmed El-Fishawy, Adel Imam, Yousra, Elham Shaheen, Yasmine Sabry, Ghada Abdelrazek and Ragheb Alama.

In January, Mars will move into Aries, which is a fiery sign, so till February 14, the world may witness wars and battles, Fouad says. There will be an eclipse between Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 and demonstrations may occur in the US in this period.
A rebellion will erupt in Oman but the sultan will be able to deal with it. There were be global dangers in May and the French rebellion will continue.

“This is a year of surprises for Aries because Jupiter, the planet of luck, will bring them a bunch of dazzling and unexpected chances,’’ Fouad says. “The position of Jupiter will help Aries achieve financial profits and revenues, but Aries are big spenders, so my advice to them is to find the needed balance between their income and expenses.”
Concerning work, Saturn and Pluto will oppose each other in 2019, so Aries will be carrying heavy responsibilities and facing obstacles. However, the position of Jupiter will help them overcome these obstacles.

As for love and relations, married couples should be aware that Uranus will be in Aries for the first two months of 2019. “Uranus has been in Aries for eight years; this will lead to bickering and some sort of boredom in marital relations,’’ Fouad explains, adding that Uranus will move out of Aries starting March 6; when couples will decide whether to break this boredom and continue in the relationship or break up. If you are single, Jupiter will bring you good fortune until Dec. 2; and even afterwards, the sun will continue to grant you good luck till Dec. 21 or 22. “They will have great love chances and potential for a serious love relationship,’’ Fouad says.

“It’s the revolution year for Taurus; 2018 was the rebellion year for Taurus because Uranus was in their astrological sign. Uranus now left Taurus but will be back starting March 6 and will stay in Taurus for 7 years,’’ she explains. According to Fouad, Uranus is the planet of revolutions and surprises, and Taureans will rebel at work and will receive surprising offers. Uranus will make them bolder decision-makers in 2019.

Saturn and Pluto will move this year to the lucky positions for Taurus, bringing Taurus new experiences, and the opportunity to develop and become more ambitious. They will have all the needed success tools. “Jupiter will be present in the investment sphere for Taurus, so 2019 will be a wonderful year for buying and selling property, they will know how to manage their savings and will have a great opportunity for investment.’’

Married couples will rebel against their daily routine, which, for some, will give a new taste to their marital relationships. However, for incompatible couples, this rebellious attitude may threaten their relationship. Singles will have great chances in 2019, starting March 6. “Love will appear all of a sudden, they will be more mature in their love relationships thanks to the maturity Saturn will bring them.’’

Unfortunately, Gemini is one of the least lucky signs this year. “2019 is the year of confusion for Gemini; they will face some obstacles; they will be hasty because Jupiter will be opposite to Gemini; my advice to them is to try to concentrate as much as they can to avoid hasty reactions,” Fouad says. “They must control their temper and avoid taking hasty decisions because they might face some disputes with their work partners and bosses,’’ she adds. It is also important to avoid venturing into big financial agreements in general because Jupiter’s position would also make them take impulsive purchasing decisions.

In the first two months of 2019, Uranus will support Gemini by surrounding them with faithful people and friends. Neptune will be opposite to Gemini; thus, in matters related to work, they might receive fake promises, and are advised to carefully consider all offers they get.

Jupiter’s position opposite to Gemini will drive married couple to rebel against marriage restrictions and commitments, pushing each other to evade responsibilities. “My advice to them is try to overcome these negative feelings and to discuss all these issues in a suitable way with their partners and reconsider their relationships sincerely,’’ Fouad says.
Singles will be confused in 2019, unable to determine what they actually want from the relationship, which will push them into multiple relationships that will add to their confusion and sense of loss.

According to Fouad, 2019 is the year of renewal for Cancer. They will have a strong desire in resuming all the outstanding issues; and Uranus will support them starting from March 6.

“Their golden partner is Jupiter, which will fall this year in the work sphere, so this will help them organize their work and ideas and lead them to achieve what they want.’’
Pluto will be opposite to Cancer in 2019, which will lead to an unstable financial status, they will be hasty when making financial decisions. “My advice to them is to set a realistic budget and abide to it and try to work harder.’’

The presence of Saturn and Pluto opposite to cancer will create a state of continuous blame and criticism between married couple, they must try to handle all these matters in a mature way and to always remember that nobody is perfect. They need to be flexible and ready to make concessions.

For singles, 2019 is again a year of emotional renewal; starting from March 6, Uranus will enter into the friends sector, so a friendship can transform to love; and even if this doesn’t happen, they will have good chances for love in 2019 in general.

For Leo, 2019 is the year to achieve dreams. “2019 will be a magnificent year for Leo on all levels: work, love and financial status.’’

Because their ally this year in all life aspects is the planet of luck Jupiter, it will give them all the success tools. In work, Jupiter will guarantee successful social relations, influential and creative talents, the ability to develop and to become distinguished.

Concerning the financial status, Jupiter will be their financial expert, they will achieve success in trade and investment fields, they will be lucky in buying and selling property, they may get a salary raise, they may also receive an unexpected financial grant. “Only those who were born in the first two days of Leo may have some problems in their work and face professional pressures stating from March 6 because of the position of Uranus,’’ Fouad says.

The presence of Jupiter in the love place will make married couples give the first priority to their partners, granting them all the love and care needed. “They will have strong desire to be happy on the emotional side.’’ Singles also have great opportunities this year to find love and to establish wonderful successful relationships.

For Virgo, 2019 is the year of work. “They will be lucky on the professional level, which will enable them to achieve success despite some work pressures.’’ Starting from March 6, Uranus will bring them glamorous, brilliant and bold ideas that will capture the attention of others. “They will get appreciation for their work and establish a good career.’’

On the financial side, we have Jupiter in an opposite position, while Pluto supports Virgo. “Pluto may increase their income, giving them the ability to invest wisely, while Jupiter may push them to be spendthrifts… The astronomy status is contradictorybut the rational and realistic nature of Virgo may drive them at the end to act wisely.’’

Married couples will tend to revolt against their marriage and evade responsibilities because Neptune is opposite to Virgo. Singles have good love chances though Saturn and Pluto will push Virgo to be overdemanding in love and to put forth a lot of difficult conditions and requirements, always demanding strong guarantees for success. “They have good chances to find what they want in their partners, so in general I can say that Virgo singles have good love chances in 2019,’’ Fouad says.

It’s the year of happiness for Libra. Starting March 6, Uranus will change position, which will enable them to take good decisions at work; however, we have Saturn and Pluto opposite to Libra, which will add some work pressures. Fouad explains Libra will move slower and face obstacles; but the presence of Jupiter means good social relations. Libra will become diplomatic, fluent, have good negotiation skills, mental alertness and be able to act wisely.

Libra can look forward to a salary raise, but might be too adventurous and forget financial commitments.

Married couples may face some problems until March 5, then they will calm down and start to judge wisely. “My advice is to stop being hasty and not to take fateful decisions till March 6 because afterward they will realize their real emotions, they will have a golden chance to restore calmness to their marriage.’’

For singles, the presence of Jupiter will bring them successful social relations and opportunities to get to know new people. “They may find a good chance for love, to have partners who are compatible with them both emotionally and intellectual,’’ says Fouad, adding that Libra will enjoy good luck in love between March and October.

It’s the year of chances and money as Jupiter is present in the money place. Saturn will bring Scorpio strong relations and networks and Pluto brings them good planning skills, so they will be able to come up with smart plans that will enable them to thrive in their career. Starting from March 6, Uranus will be opposite to Scorpio, so they must be cautious before signing papers or contracts.

The presence of Jupiter in the money sphere, along with the support of Pluto, will drive their commercial sense to flourish, they will know how to increase their savings and how to negotiate for a salary raise. “They will know how to compel anyone to respect their rights, which will make them lucky in all financial issues.’’
Starting from March 5, married couples will have a strong desire for change. “The change here doesn’t mean separation or divorce, it could be a healthy change to renew their daily routine,” Fouad explains.

Singles will face an unstable phase, they will enter into several relationships, as their emotions will sway between feeling impressed with someone then getting frustrated when they realize that they are not what they expected. “They have a strong desire to have a relationship but unfortunately they only see half of the reality.’’

2019 is their lucky year because Jupiter is in Sagittarius this year. “Jupiter stays in any astrological sign for only one year then moves to the next sign to only come back after 12 years, so 2019 is Sagittarius’s golden chance andthey have to grab it.”

Concerning work, Sagittarius will have an innovative spirit and wonderful energy. “They will be inspired by magnificent ideas that will enable them to improve their work, they will be distinguished in all the activities they are going to do, they will know how to highlight their talents and gain the trust of others.’’

According to Fouad,this will open for them all the closed doors at work. Regarding the financial status, Jupiter will give them the ability to optimally invest their money, and they will have great commercial sense.

Married couples will be ready to stabilize their marriage relationships, as they will enjoy emotional and psychological stability. “Their main target will be building a bright future.’’ As for singles, Jupiter will offer them wonderful chances to meet the right person with whom they will build their future.

Capricorn is one of the least lucky signs in 2019 “because of the presence of Saturn for the second consecutive year. Saturn is the planet of strict laws and is a strict teacher; whenever it moves into a sign it doesn’t give luck but it gives tough experiences and hard life lessons, so after three consecutive years Capricorn will be more experienced, wiser and more mature,” explains Fouad.

Capricorn will face work pressures in 2019 but they will overcome them because they are diligent, ambitious and know how to bear responsibilities. Fouad says that the presence of Pluto will bring chances for better income, as they can negotiate for a salary raise. “Saturn will make Capricorns realistic, and they will know how to use their money wisely.’’

Married couples will reconsider their relationships, continuously trying to know their places in the hearts of their partners. “They will torture themselves and their partners with a lot of questions and doubts, and will need the help of a relationship expert.’’ Singles will want a perfect partner to be willing to enter into a relationship in the first two months; but, starting March 6, there will be big chances for love and romance.

2019 is the year of support for Aquarius. They will have better luck than last year. “Last year, Jupiter was in an opposite position but in 2019 Jupiter will support them, this will help them gain the trust and support of people.’’ Jupiter will help them show their potential, they will be able to manage hard tasks and staff and to create new work methods.

Regarding financial status, they have Neptune in the spere of money, which makes them ready with plans for any sudden situation. “Neptune is the planet of dreams so they must be cautious from fake offers and not tobe fooled.’’ The good news is that Jupiter supports them financially; this will enable them to have better income.

For married couples, their status will be the same, no problems and nothing new. They may face family pressures and some disputes with relatives or they will be worried about some of their family members; but in general these family pressures will not affect the marriage.

Singles have wonderful chances to find the right partner, especially among their friends. “My advice to them is not to reject any friend’s invitation because Jupiter is in the sphere of friends; this will give them golden chances to transform friendships to love,’’ Fouad says.

2019 is the balance year for Pisces. “We have Jupiter in an opposite position while Uranus is supportive; that is why 2019 is the balance year in every sense of the word.,” Fouad says. At work, they will try to find balance between their personal and work lives.

“Jupiter will be in an opposite position regarding work, so this will add professional pressures but at the same time Neptune will drive them to set perfect goals and they will want to carry on their work with perfection.’’

Starting March 6, Uranus will support Pisces in relations and work, guiding them to a major leap in their professional life. “Concerning financial status, we have Jupiter in an opposite position which will push them to act lavishlyand buy all they want. Meanwhile, the presence of Neptune in their sign will make their dreams quite unrealistic,“so my advice is to spend their money wisely otherwise they may go bankrupt, and not to be fooled by fake financial offers.”

Married couples will be mature and have a clear vision; they want to establish strong relationships based on sharing.

For singles, Neptune is in harmony with Saturn and Pluto, which will lead to a strong desire to find true love. “Their chances to find true love and to be happy will be in April, July and October.’’

2/3/2019 12:21:45 PM
<![CDATA[The World in 2018]]>

?The U.S. government enters a federal government shutdown as a result of a dispute over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

?North Korea accepts South Korean invitation for high-level talks.

?Time’sUp initiative to fight sexual harassment is announced by 300 Hollywood women.
?Lawyers of Donald Trump attempt to stop the publication of a book on Trump’s administration “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff.The book was published by Henry Holt and Company.

?Donald Trump cancels a program allowing 200,000 San Salvadoreans temporary status to live in the U.S.


?Jacob Zuma resigns as President of South A
frica after nine years in power.

?17 people are killed in a school shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

?Poland implements new legislation of up to three years imprisonment for anyone suggesting Poland was complicit in the Holocaust.

?Pope Francis calls for a worldwide prayer day for peace and rejecting violence.
?The Afghan Taliban announces that they would like to end the Afghanistan War through dialogue.

?The US imposes more sanctions on North Korea in an attempt to diffuse the nuclear tension.


?Abdel Fattah El-Sisi wins second term as Egyptian president.

?Former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter,Yullia, are poisoned by the Novichok nerve agent in England. The UK counter-terrorism police accused the Kremlin of alleged involvement inthe incident.

?Donald Trump accepts an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for a meeting to discuss the denuclearization of North Korea.

?China approves a constitutional change removing the term limits for its leaders. The change grants Xi Jinping lifetime presidency.

?Thousands of high school students across the US organize National School Walkout protests in response to gun violence in the country.

?Vladimir Putin is elected President for a fourth term with 76 percent of the votes.
?The “March for Our Lives” demonstrations against gun violence and mass shootings are held in over 900 cities across the world.

?Angela Merkel is sworn in for fourth term as German Chancellor, head of the coalition government.

?More than 100 Russian diplomats are expelled by more than 20 countries in the wake of the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

?North Korean leader Kim Jong-unleaves North Korea for the first time since assuming office in 2011 to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

?U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar calls on Mark Zuckerberg to testify before the Senate Judiciary in wake in a data mining scandal with Cambridge Analytica.

?Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with US president Donald Trump at the White House.

?104 girls kidnapped by terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria are returned to their hometown.

?The African trade deal is agreed by 44 African countries in Kigali, Rwanda.

?Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi is sentenced to eight months in prison after slapping an Israeli officer.

?Palestinians began a “Great March of Return” protests demanding Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to their homeland.


?Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the U.S. Congress and admits that data on 50 million users was harvested by Analytica.

?The US, the UK and France order the bombing of Syrian military bases.
?Cinemas open in Saudi Arabia for the first time since 1983. American film Black Panther was the first to be screened.

?Miguel Diaz-Canel is sworn in as President of Cuba marking the first time since 1959 that Cuba has had a president other than Fidel and Raul Castro.

?North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, crosses into South Korea to meet President, Moon Jae-in, becoming the first North Korean leader to cross the Demilitarized Zone since its creation in 1953.

?Commonwealth countries decide Prince Charles will succeed Queen Elizabeth as the next head of the Commonwealth.


?Donald Trump moves the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Fifty-eight Palestinians are killed and 1,700 hospitalized are as they protest the move.

?The Indian city of Kanpur is declared world’s most polluted city by the World Health Organization, with 14 other Indian cities in the top 20.

?Spanish Basque separatist group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) officially announces its final dissolution after 40 years of conflict in Spain.

?Donald Trump announces his intention to withdraw from the multilateral Iran nuclear deal.

?The Pakatan Harapan Malaysian opposition-led coalition secures a parliamentary majority ending the 61-year rule of the Barisan Nasional coalition since independence in 1957.

?The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect, imposing strict privacy controls for European citizens worldwide.

?The UK’s Prince Harry marries American actress Meghan Markle in a lavish ceremony.
?The Republic of Ireland votes by 66.4 percent to overturn the abortion ban .

?The US announces extending its tariffs on imported steel (25 percent) and aluminum (10 percent), to include the EU, Mexico and Canada.

?The parliament in Denmark bans face veils in public.

?Guatemala opens its embassy in Jerusalem.

?Iraq witnesses the first legislative and provincial elections since the defeat of ISIS in the country.

?Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is questioned by members of the European parliament in Brussels in wake of its security scandal.


?The 44th G7 summit takes place in Canada. Donald Trump pushes for the reinstatement of the G8, to include Russia.

?The first summit in history between a US president and a North Korean leader held in Singapore.

?Greece and the Republic of Macedonia end a 27-year naming dispute—changing Macedonia’s name to the “Republic of North Macedonia.”

?Jordanian Prime Minister Hani Mulki resigns amid massive protests against tax and price increases.

?The US announces its withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

?Canada becomes the first major industrialized country to legalize cannabis for recreational use.

?Saudi Arabia allows women to drive for the first time in history.

?Mexico announces imposing tariffs against US exports in response to Trump administration’s tariffs.

?Vladimir Putin invites North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un to visit Russia.

?An airstrike in Afghanistan kills Pakistan’s most wanted militant and Taliban leader, Mullah Fazlullah.

?The United Nations announces that Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their families violates international law. The US government confirms 1,500 boys being held separated from their parents in Casa Padre, shelter facility for illegal immigrants in a former Walmart in Brownsville, Texas. In the same month, Trump signs Executive Order ending family separation at the border for illegal immigrants.

?Turkish president RecepTayyip Erdogan wins second term.

?US Supreme Court upholds Trump’s travel ban against mostly Muslim countries
?Sudanese court overturns death sentence for teenager Nora Hussein, who killed her husband after he raped her.

?First high-level talks between Ethiopian and Eritrean officials in 20 years begin in Addis Ababa.


?Lithuania becomes the 36th member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

?Eritrea and Ethiopia officially declare an end to their 20-year conflict.

?The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement is signed, creating an open trade zone covering nearly one-third of global GDP.

?Cuba officially recognizes private property under the new constitution.

?British Brexit Secretary David Davis and UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson resign in a stand against Teresa May’s new softer Brexit policy.

?Israel’s parliament passes controversial “nation state” law giving only Jews self-determination, relegating Arabic to “special status.”

?Teenage Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi is released from prison serving an eight-month sentence

?The US reimposes sanctions on Iran and Russia.

?Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkmenistan sign the Convention on the legal Status of the Caspian Sea, ending a 20-year long dispute over the Caspian Sea’s legal status.

?Pope Francis declares that the death penalty is inadmissible, expressing hope that it would be abolished around the world.

?The South Sudan peace accord is signed between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, in an attempt to end five years of civil war.

?Saudi Arabia’s state airline suspends direct flights to Toronto and expels the Canadian ambassador after the North American country called for release of detained activists campaigning for civil and women’s rights.

?The Turkish lira falls dramatically after US President Trump announces tariff increases on Turkish steel and aluminum.


?Emmanuel Macron announces that the French government will spend €8 million over four years to fight poverty.

?United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres calls for urgent climate change conference saying “climate change moving faster than we are.”

?Russia launches its largest military exercise since 1981 involving 300,000 personal with Chinese troops participating.


?Seven people are killed in a militant attack by three buses carrying Christian pilgrims near a monastery in Minya, Upper Egypt.

?In the US midterm elections, democrats retake control of the House of Representatives after eight years.

?Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli directs governors to temporarily stop issuing new licenses for the auto rickshaws, known in Egypt as “toktoks,” to address negative impacts of the three-wheel transportation means.

?Egyptian Islamic institutions reiterate rejection of equal inheritance for men and women, while the Tunisian government continues pushing forward a bill that swims against religious tides.

?A US government report reveals climate change will cost the US economy hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century, hitting everything from health to infrastructure.

?Minister of Health and Population Hala Zayed announces that tests carried out as part of Egypt’s national campaign’s first stage reveal 4.5 percent of the examined citizens tested positive for Hepatitis C.


?Saudi Arabia denounces the stance of the US Senate on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

?The Arab League condemns successive Turkish strikes against posts in northern Iraq, stressing that such action is a violation to Iraqi sovereignty.

?An agreement to establish an entity for the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden countries is reached between Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia.

?The UN General Assembly blocks a US-sponsored draft resolution to condemn Hamas for firing rockets into Israel and inciting violence.

?Yemen’s Saudi-backed government and the Houthi side agree to a truce in Sweden, intending to ensure humanitarian access to Hudaydah.

?British PM Theresa May faces a Meaningful Vote on her Withdrawal Agreement when ministers return from recess in January. May received clear warnings about a second referendum, as Brexiteers warn a no-deal Brexit is likely.

?The death toll in France’s ‘yellow vest’ protests rises to 10 as the movement, which broke out mid-November, continues to evolve into a wider backlash against the economic reforms of President Emmanuel Macron.]]>
2/1/2019 11:22:00 AM
<![CDATA[Your Guide to Franchise ]]>
The International Franchise Association’s (IFA) Vice President, International Affairs and Chief of Staff, Josh Merin, shared insights with Business Today Egypt on how the sector operates to promote and protect the interests of IFA members across the globe through trade missions, advocacy, conferences, educational programming and research. He also digs into the details behind just what makes franchising a growth strategy to consider.

How would the International Franchise Association (IFA) cooperate with Egypt?

The IFA values its longstanding relationship with the Egyptian Franchise Development Association (EFDA) since its establishment. Through the World Franchise Council, both the EFDA and IFA have worked together to support the development and protection of franchising to promote a collective understanding of best practices in fair and ethical franchising across the globe. This collaboration has deepened in the recent years; with each association’s role in the leadership of the World Franchise Council. The EFDA and IFA’s relationship is growing still deeper moving into 2019; with IFA’s support of the Legal Symposium being mounted by EFDA and the EFDA’s adoption of the IFA’s Certified Franchise Executive (CFE) program. This program aims to enhance the professionalism of franchising by certifying the highest standards of quality training and education. Meeting the requirements of the program and completing its course of study; this leads to the Certified Franchise ExecutiveTM (CFE) designation. In addition, the CFE program offers a wide range of continuing education programs for professional development.

What are the requirements to earn the Certified Franchise Executive designation?

To earn the CFE designation, a candidate must enroll to the program [enrollment in Egypt is through EFDA] and accrue the designated number of credits in three main categories: education, participation, and experience, and later pass the program’s final exam.

There are 745,290 franchises operating in the United States. How many of those are American and how many are foreign?

While it is not possible to provide a precise count, IFA estimates that more than 90 percent of the brands that these units are affiliated with are American either in origin or ownership. In recent years numerous international franchises have established successful and growing presences in the U.S. market.

What sectors in the U.S. provide good franchising opportunities? What are the countries/ regions that attract American franchisors per industry/sector?

The personal services sector is a franchise witnessing extensive growth. Much of it is driven by demographic and social trends, such as parents investing in their children’s development, increased demand for senior care, and the continually rising focus on fitness. Some of the most popular markets to U.S. franchisors include Canada, Mexico, the UK, Australia and the Gulf area.

Which is more common, manufacturing or service franchising?

There are two types of franchising relationships: the business format franchising and the product distribution franchising. The most identifiable type to the average person is the business format franchising, where the franchisor provides not only its trade name, products, and services, but also its know-how and the business’ entire operating system. This format also offers the franchisee a structured site selection and development support, operating manuals, training, brand standards, quality control, a marketing strategy and business advisory support.

While the other type of franchising, the product distribution franchising, is based on a supplier-dealer relationship where the franchises simply sell the franchisor’s products. In this relationship, the franchisor licenses its trademark and logo to the franchisees, but typically does not provide them with an entire system for running their business. The most common industries that adopt the product distribution franchising include soft drinks, automobiles and gasoline. Manufacturing businesses more commonly (but not exclusively) adopt the product distribution franchising while service businesses are more oriented to business format franchising.

What are the qualifications of a potential franchisee?

Each individual franchisor set their own qualifications to award a franchise. These qualifications range from proven experience to investment requirements, and widely vary across industries and brands.

When would a brand need a franchisee to enter a certain market instead of just a licensee or instead of directly investing there?

The business model to use when entering a new market is a key strategic decision. Even within franchising there are different models, including direct franchising (franchisor directly engages in development and support of single units in a foreign market), area development (territory or country agreement with no subfranchising), and master franchising (subfranchising). Many franchisors use different models depending on the attributes of the market. A franchise relationship is much more extensive than a relationship that is license only. For example, a franchisee will usually receive training, marketing and other support on an ongoing basis and need to conform to brand standards as compared to simply selling a branded product.

What a franchisor and a franchisee should do to avoid manipulation by the other party?

Before investing, franchisees should clearly understand the franchise business model. It is the responsibility of each prospective franchisee to conduct a thorough due diligence of the franchise system, to retain competent legal and other advisors and to fully understand the terms before signing any franchise agreement. Prospective franchisees have the prerogative, at the beginning of the franchise relationship, whether or not to enter into any particular franchise relationship or franchise system.

Similarly, franchisors should clearly understand the franchise business model prior to choosing franchising as a method to expand their business concept.
1/31/2019 10:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[The Major Projects of 2018-19 ]]>

FILE - Housing Project

Over 120,000 residential units will be accomplished by March 2019 in 6 of October City, Badr City, 15 of May City, Al Obour City, and the 10 of Ramadan City.

Water and Sewage


Forty drinking water projects were accomplished with a capacity of 1.5 million cubic meters at a budget of LE5.2 billion. 174 sewage projects were completed. 141 were carried out in rural areas at a cost of LE3.5 billion. 33 were executed in urban areas, with a budget of LE4.9 billion.

FILE - Water Plant


The second phases of a wastewater treatment plant with a capacity of 150,000 cubic meters per day and a water treatment plant with a capacity of 400,000 cubic meters per day will soon launch in 6th of October City.

By mid-2019, completed water projects in Giza will pump 430,000 cubic meters per day. Three water treatment plants will be completed in Sharkeya, in addition to 18 pumping stations, a water supply network at a length of 191 kilometers and a sewage network extending to 51.1 kilometers.

Irrigation and Water Projects

New Asyut Barrage and its hydropower plant began operations, and a bridge was built over it at a total cost of L.E. 6 billion. The hydropower plant plant consists of four units, the capacity of each being eight megawatts. The average amount of energy produced per annum is 240 million kilowatts hour.

FILE - Dam in Dahab

Four wells were dug up in Farafra.

Nine auxiliary wells were dug up in the Western Desert’s Kharga costing L.E. 10.3 million.

Another 10 were dug up at the nearby Dakhlah costing L.E.14.2 million.

Water projects executed south of the Western Desert are worth LE164 million, with a portfolio that includes switching to solar energy for wells operation and the introduction of PVC pipes.

The number of wells operated by solar energy in Farafra and Dakhla is 33 and 25 respectively.


Nine pedestrian bridges, 15 full-scale bridges and two tunnels at a cost of L.E. 3.9 billion will be built in 6th of October City. L.E.1.6 billion is allocated to the maintenance of internal roads in the suburban district.

By March 2019, roads worth L.E 4 billion will be accomplished in New Cairo. The projects include the Obour Axis, the second phase of Gamal Abdel Naser Axis, and the second phase facilities of the Dar Misr and Sakan Misr housing projects.

Other projects slated for the first half of 2019 include the Kalabsh Axis over the Nile River in Aswan, the Adly Mansour Bridge in Beni Suef governorate, and the Rawd al-Farag Axis.

The fourth phase of the National Roads Project will kick off by mid-2019. One of the main projects to be executed within that phase is a 37-kilometer road east of the Delta at a cost of L.E.1.6 billion. The road will connect the Regional Axis at Zagazig and the International Coastal road passing through Senblawin and Gamassa. In 2019, the introduction of a smart road surveillance system will start.


By mid-2019, new railway lines, railcars, and an automatic railway system will be introduced. This is in addition to the development of maintenance workshops.

FILE - VIP Train

The development of the metro first line will start, costing €360 million. The works include the renovation of the signaling, wireless communication, electricity, electro-mechanical systems, and the introduction of new air-conditioned cars.

Agriculture and Farming


FILE - President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi inspecting greenhouses project in Mohamed Naguib Military Base. December, 2018

100 high and medium technology greenhouses were built and cultivated over 6,000 feddans in the Mohamed Naguib Military Base.

16 net houses were set up and cultivated, each covering 12 feddans.

186 traditional greenhouses were built and cultivated, the size of each amounting to 1.2 feddans.

1,000 greenhouses were built, each stretching over three feddans, and preparations for cultivating them have begun.


Starting April 2019, the cultivation of 12,500 feddans over 2,350 greenhouses in southern Abou Soltan will begin.

529 greenhouses stretching over 100 feddans in Al Qantarah Sharq will be cultivated.

The Ministry of Agriculture will set up joint farms in Tanzania, Senegal, Zambia and Burkina Faso, and a joint factory farm in Uganda. There also may be a partnership with the private sector in Sudan to produce silage seeds.



62 electricity projects were accomplished at a budget of L.E.15.02 billion.

Those include 50 power stations, networks’ paths of 2,133 kilometers, isolation of 1,629 electrical conductors, the substitution of 78 kilometers of overhead transmission cables with underground ones, as well as the installation of 2,000 smart electricity meters and 495,000 prepaid meters.

Overhead transmission cables now extend over 4,000 kilometers compared to 2,000 in 2014.


FILE - Overhead transmission cables

Overhead transmission cables will extend over 6,000 kilometers in total.

The electricity linkage project with Saudi Arabia will start, and the electricity linkage project with Sudan may take place. ]]>
1/30/2019 11:55:38 AM
<![CDATA[In the Bag!]]>
Inspired by Abidijan, Yamoussoukro, Grand-Bassam and El Sheikh’s personal adventures, sadafa’s newest line features three statement clutches in geometric and tribal patterns delicately and meticulously handcrafted from mother-of-pearl inlays. With its vibrant, earthy colors, this collection is both contemporary, functional and trendsetting.

The campaign for the collection reflects El-Sheikh;s enduring love affair with ethnicity and for the shoot El Sheikh teamed up with Spanish photographer Diego Diaz Marin to create an editorial that exudes femininity, timeless beauty and nostalgia. Captivating and nostalgic, Marin’s images symbolize the brand’s fashion-forward aesthetic and ‘je ne sais quoi appeal.’

The Afrique Mon Amour collection campaign is produced by Flare PR with photography by Black Creative Studios, makeup by Dana Khedr. The collection is modeled by Suzan Salah Idris.
1/29/2019 1:27:47 PM
<![CDATA[Meeting the man behind Egypt’s online retail giant]]>
Holding a master’s degree in Business Information Technology from Middle sex University and a bachelor’s of engineering from Ain Shams University, Safwat started his career in the retail sector over 15 years ago. In 2001, he was part of the team that launched the electronics retail company Compu Me; he contributed to building the firm’s infrastructure and was in charge of developing both the Internal Merchandising System and External Partners’ Relationships.

By the time he left Compu Me in 2012, the company already had the number one market share of organized retail in Egypt after Carrefour, recording 33%. Eager for a new challenge, Safwat moved from offline retailing to the online world;and as chief commercial officer, he lead Rocket Internet’s commercial development in its African venture in Egypt: Jumia.com. He headed a team of entrepreneurs from different nationalities and supported the building of the commercial backbone of the company.

Safwat’s great accomplishments paved his way to become Jumia Egypt’s chief executive officer in late 2014, taking the company to the next level in both market share and brand awareness. He managed to raise more than $320 million in 2016 to support the company’s expansion plans.

To learn more about his journey to success, we spoke to Jumia’s mover and shaker in Egypt. Ina special interview, Safwat explains his vision for promoting local Egyptian brands and improving the Egyptian customers’ perception of online shopping; and highlights how the innovation of Egyptian youth is the backbone of the company’s success. Safwat believes that Jumia serves as democratic e-commerce platform where small,medium and large companies compete together for the benefit of the customers.

What steps did you take early in your career to facilitate the success that later came with Jumia?

After I graduated, I joined Compu Me, which was one of the first few organized retailers locally at the time. The concept was not common in Egypt in the past, as independent retailers and small shops were more dominant. I saw that as an opportunity; I witnessed the revolution of organized retailing as it flourished, along with the rise in shopping malls across Egypt generally and in Cairo and Alexandria particularly.

IT studies were becoming very big, and a lot of institutions were providing facilities and certifications in the field. The computer industry was growing rapidly. Studying engineering in general helps structure your mind in an arranged manner, which is a great foundation for problem solving later.

At Compu Me, the business side attracted me a lot, so I shifted to it from the technical side. As the years went by, I witnessed the market shift with consumers becoming more attuned to a dynamic that relied less on salespeople and more on browsing merchandise; organized retailers facilitated and built this shift. Later, I began working for a regional retail company based in Dubai as a consultant, before I came back in 2013 to join[growing Pan-African marketplace] Jumia.

What does it take for consumers to accept a new product or concept? What did you learn from your experience?

The most important thing I learned is to prioritize what people are actually looking for.

You shouldn’t be restricted in your mindset according to what you think people want; you should not be rigid in your decision-making process. Being flexible helped me a lot, adapted me to different types of sectors, and helped me join certain ones when they were in a very early phase.

For instance, I wouldn’t have joined Compu Me, if I had stuck to traditional thinking, which says it is best to work in the field of your study. Had I ignored the budding technological revolution early in my career and the opportunities it held, I wouldn’t have been standing where I am today.I witnessed how the online arena evolved as consumer patters shifted; people shifted to the online world in search of more independence in their purchasing decisions, given the limitations physical stores may have in terms of merchandise. In terms of offering a better and wider variety of options, the online world has better catered to consumer needs during the past few years.


What personality traits do you feel facilitated your success?

Being humble, receiving feedback positively, and continuously learning…One of the challenges that face marketers in Egypt is that graduates of big universities often have an inflated ego, so even when they join multinationals like Jumia, they do not take feedback favorably. They neither listen nor try to learn much; oftentimes, they are more eager to be involved in the decision-making process rather than absorb lessons and feedback. However, humility and admitting to your weakness is important for one’s professional growth too.

In leading teams, I really focus on people’s empowerment to support them in making their own decisions. I give them room to express their ideas and creativity, and I expose them to all the knowledge they should acquire. Some companies separate each function from the other, whereby everyone is restricted to a certain department and mercial events that didn’t previously exist in the country, like Black Friday. When we launched it in 2014, both vendors and customers made fun of us for trying to localize an international shopping event. Four years later, everyone here is doing Black Friday, and November has effectively become a shopping season.
I believe the Egyptian e-commerce market has massive potential for the next three years.

Do you plan to attract big fast fashion retailers?

There is a concept called the democracy of the e-commerce, whereby a small shop can operate side-by-side of a big brand. We target both small and big brands. As I said before, some brands are not ready to go online, or have their own strategy. But, we have international and local brands. We focus a lot on local brands, and we consider empowering them part of our mission here in Egypt. We launched a campaign at the end of 2016 called “Made in Egypt,” which has lasted through till now.

Not only do we present their products, we also market them because e-commerce is not
only a selling channel but also an awareness channel. I, myself, was surprised by the magnitude of Egyptian made products in the sectors of fashion, FMCGs, groceries, baby and child products, electronics like TVs, and home appliance. An incredible 35 percent of our business is from local products.

Do the prices of some products differ significantly in the online and offline worlds?

Online is usually cheaper than offline because the overheads are much less; that is why we get thousands of sellers on our platform. If they try to expand and open more stores or branches, the costs would be very high.

Are your customers concentrated in main cities like Cairo and Alexandria?

We have customers from as far as Sinai, Matrouh, Aswan, and even Luxor; we cover all of Egypt. E-commerce is penetrating every single governorate in Egypt, particularly in towns where the focused on their KPIs. What I have tried to do is help everyone understand that their KPI is linked to the company’s strategy and orientation, and the effect of what they do on the company’s overall performance.

How do you see your role as the CEO of the biggest e-commerce company in Egypt? And how youcan support SMEs?

We have two value propositions: One focuses on customers, the other focuses on sellers and vendors. We offer the latter a platform that can increase their services and help them scale their businesses across Egypt. The pillar of that platform is small and medium enterprises.

Big companies have a more prominent presence offline, and may not yet be ready to go online or aware of the importance of going online. For SMEs, e-commerce is a breakthrough for their businesses as they get help with selling and advertising their products across Egypt as well as gaining increased visibility.

We found electronics and home appliance brands among the top brands sold by Jumia Egypt despite of their availability offline, why do you think people in Egypt do online shopping?

People can easily compare prices online and get the best deals. In the aftermath of
floatation and rise in prices, e-commerce in Egypt thrived remarkably in 2017. The decision to buy a mobile phone or a fridge or a TV has become a bigger investment.
Online is the easiest way to search, as opposed to browsing physical retail outlets. In the online world, there is unlimited assortment and variety.

You can check multiple brands, sizes, and types. Jumia is a marketplace and a platform that combines thousands of sellers competing to sell the
same goods.

How you think e-commerce would expand to reach more social segments? How is Jumia working towards that goal?

E-commerce is not just another sales channel separate from offline stores. We target changing people’s purchasing behavior, as they can trust the retailer and place their orders while lying on their bed. We witness this growth every year; it’s always in the three digits. We also created com-availability of physical stores is minimal, the variety is limited, and pricing is very expensive due to lacking competition. E-commerce gave customers in those areas the opportunity to purchase products at the same price levels available in Cairo.

What should a young person in Egypt do to succeed?

They must be bullish enough to explore fields they can pursue, despite what they have studied. Be humble. I worked with foreigners in our team, and I have seen that Egyptians are really humble when they do their work. They accept feedback, learn and listen. Even those in senior positions can admit a mistake in front of their colleagues or team members. Also, young people need to work hard to succeed as opposed to just looking for a salary at the end of the month to purchase what they want. Work with the end goal of a certain position or title. In new fields and sectors, the average age is very young. The priority should be to grow in your career. You could be a CEO by your late 20s or early 30s. People need to work extremely hard to grow fast, rather than get disturbed by issues related to financials and income.

What do you recommend for self-development?

My manager says that big companies now hire people based on skills, not certifications. In the near future, that pattern will become more dominant. Jumia, for example, has employees who were not working in the same field before; and have no particular certifications. Instead, they were hired because they have strong skills that are relevant to this sector. People should focus on improving their skills rather than their certification levels.

How can you judge if someone is flexible and shares the same values as the institution?

For companies in maturity phase, the processes has already been developed by almost 100%. Consequently, everything that goes on inside the company has a static process and routine. People end up getting bored because they do everything the same way every day. At startups like Jumia, processes are not yet developed by 100%, so flexibility is highly needed as the company may change the strategy every year to adapt and reach the level of growth needed. I judge whether someone is flexible or not by their adaptability.

What do you do in your free time that helps you succeed?

I try to have some time alone. I work out. Anyone who wants to succeed in their life, they have to achieve balance between personal and professional life. In sectors like e-commerce that are highly demanding and stressful requiring 12 to 14 hours of focus daily, it is important to prioritize your personal life in the rest of the day. When I first entered that sector, I encountered that challenge. I dedicated all my time to my career. I couldn’t achieve that balance. Then, I learned how to do it. I think that helped me a lot to succeed.
1/28/2019 1:13:04 PM
<![CDATA[18 People We’ve Lost in 2018]]>The Palestinian singer, vocalist, composer and activist, known for her modern interpretations of traditional Palestinian songs and poetry, died on March 24 at the age of 52 following a nine-year struggle with breast cancer. Banna graduated from Moscow’s Higher Institute for Music in 1991. She released a collection of Palestinian children’s songs and in 2003 took part of the multi-artist release Lullabies from the Axis of Evil, featuring female singers from a variety of nations deemed enemies of freedom by George W. Bush, in the hopes of introducing their music and culture to the West. Banna’s Mirror of My Soul album also caught the attention of audiences around the world, becoming one of 2005’s most acclaimed Arabic crossover releases. Her album 2006 This Was Not My Story gained a spot on European charts among the year’s most popular world music releases.

Stephen Hawking
The legendary physicist, who is best known for his 1988 record-breaking bestseller A Brief History of Time, died on March 14 at the age of 76 after battling motor neuron disease, known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Hawking was diagnosed with ALS at the age 21, and was forced to remain in a wheelchair and depend on a computerized voice system to communicate. He held 12 honorary degrees; in 1982, he received the Commander of the Order of the British Empire honor and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. He was also named a Fellow of The Royal Society, which is comprised of “the most eminent scientists, engineers and technologists from the UK and the Commonwealth.”

Ebrahim Nafae
The Egyptian journalist and editor of the Al-Ahram newspaper from 1979 to 2005 was chair of the General Union of Arab Journalists from 1996 to 2012. He died on January 1 at the age of 84. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Ain Shams University in 1956 and began his journalism career as a reporter at Reuters. Nafae also served as the chairperson of the Arab Anti-Discrimination Organization, which is particularly focused on exposing all forms of discrimination and racism practiced by Israel.

Ahmed Khaled Tawfik
The renowned Egyptian author best known for his horror/thriller pocket series Ma Wara Al-Tabia (Metaphysics), died of a heart attack on April 2 at the age of 55. Tawfik, who practiced medicine before he turned to writing, is widely considered to be the first contemporary writer of horror, science fiction and fantasy in the Arab World, and the first writer to explore the medical thriller genre. Tawfik’s books became a hit among young people who consider him their “godfather” and identified him the protagnoist in many of his stories, Refaat Ismael, who was featured in the Metaphysics series. His 2008 novel Utopia, which highlights Egypt’s class divides, was a great hit and a continuation of the success that his Metaphysics series achieved. He is the prodige of another famous Egyptian writer, Nabil Farouk.

Henri Michel
The French football player and coach died April 24 at the age of 73. Michel played as a midfielder for the France national football team and later went on to coach and manage various clubs, like Paris Saint-Germain and Egypt’s Zamalek club as well as national teams all over the world, including Morocco for two stints, Tunisia at the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations, the Ivory Coast during the 2006 World Cup and Cameron. He coached France at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico where they reached the semi-final.

Kofi Anan
The first black African to lead the United Nations, Kofi Anan died on August 18 at the age of 80. Hailing from Ghana, Anan served as the seventh UN Secretary-General between 1997 and 2006. His efforts to secure a more peaceful world won him and the UN the Nobel Prize in 2001.

Madiha Yousri
The star from the golden age of Egyptian cinema died on May 30 at the age of 97. The actress and producer known as the “Brunette of the Nile” was chosen by Time Magazine as one of the world’s 10 most beautiful women in 1940s. Yousri, who was discovered by film director Mohammed Karim while sitting with her friends at the historic café Groppi in Downtown Cairo appeared in more than 90 films, many of which are considered classics, including Lahn el-Kholoud (Immortal Song), Ard Al-Ahlam (The Land of Dreams), Al-Khataya (The Sins) and Inni Rahela (I Shall Depart). She was cast alongside stars Emad Hamdy, Youssef Wahby and Hussein Riad in the film Hayya aw Mout (Life or Death), which was nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival. Yousri was awarded Egypt’s State Medal of Creativity in 1963 by then-president Mohamed Anwar Sadat, and in 1998 she was appointed a member of the Egyptian Shura Council (Upper House) by former President Hosni Mubarak. She also received an honorary doctorate from the Egyptian Arts Academy on November 26, 2017 for her artistic career.

Khaled Mohieddin
The last member of the Free Officers Movement and the Revolutionary Command Council that overthrew King Farouk in 1952 died on May 6 at the age of 95. He graduated from the Egyptian Military Academy in 1940, where he served as an officer. In 1977, Mohieddin set up the National Progressive Unionist Party as a leftist opposition group, winning several seats in parliament under former President Hosni Mubarak. Interim President Adly Mansour awarded him Egypt’s highest honor, the Nile medal, in 2013 for his valuable contribution to political history since 1952. In 1970, Mohieddin was awarded the International Lenin Peace Prize.

Galal Amin
Acclaimed economist Galal Amin passed on September 15 at the age of 83. The intellectual and writer published eight books, his most famous being Whatever Happened to the Egyptians? released in 2000. Born in 1935 to Egyptian academic and jurist Ahmed Amin, the younger Amin graduated with a degree in law before continuing his studies at the London School of Economics. In 2015, the beloved AUC professor received the Sultan Qaboos Award for Culture, Arts and Literature, which recognized his significant intellectual accomplishments.

George H. W. Bush
The 41st president of USA and the patriarch of one of America’s dominant political dynasties, George Herbert Walker Bush, who served from 1989 to 1993, died on November 30 at the age of 94. Bush was a member of the Republican Party and had previously been a congressman, ambassador, and director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Bush was the first incumbent vice president to be elected president of the US. Foreign policy drove Bush’s presidency; the invasion of Panama (1989-1990), the second gulf war (1990-1991), the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 all took place during his tenure. He lost the presidential election for a potential second term to Democrat Bill Clinton following an economic recession and decreased importance of foreign policy in a post Cold War political climate.

Hasan Kami
Egyptian actor and opera singer Hasan Kami died on December 14 at age 82. He studied at the Jesuit school then earned a Bachelors of Law from Cairo University, and later studied at the Theatre Conservatory. Kami began his career at the Cairo Opera House in 1963 and starred in more than 270 operas, including Opera Aida. He won the third global award in operatic singing from Italy in 1969, the fourth global award 1973 and the sixth award from Japan in 1976. Kami also served as manager of the Cairo Opera House for several years and participated in many TV series including Ana w enta w Baba fel Meshmesh and El-Banat (The Girls).

Gamil Rateb
Beloved Egyptian actor Gamil Rateb died September 19 at the age of 92. Rateb starred in many films, including La Azzaa Lel Sayedat (No Consolation for Women), Hob Fel Zenzana (Love in the Prison), El Bedaya (The Beginning) and Toyoor el-Zalam (The Birds of the Dark). Rateb also played unforgettable roles in a number of TV series such as Yawmiat Wanees (Days of Wanis), El-Raya al-Bayda (White Flag), Al-Asdekaa (The Friends) and Wajh el-Qamar (Face of the Moon). The iconic actor has appeared in French, Italian and Tunisian movies as well as distinguished international movies such as Lawrence of Arabia, Trapeze, To Commit a Murder, among others. He was honored in March 2018 in the seventh edition of the Luxor African Film Festival as well as the 29th edition of the Cairo International Film Festival.

Ebrahim Al-Shqankiri
Egypt lost director Ebrahim Al-Shqankiri on February 8; he was 82. Al-Shqankiri received his bachelor’s degree in cinema from the University of California, USA in 1960 and directed many films and TV series, most notably the social drama Saken Osady (Living Across from Me). He achieved national and international acclaim, winning the Alexandria International Film Festival Award for 1964 documentary film Al-Lahza Al-Khaleda (The Immortal Moment), several awards at the Cairo International Film Festival for his film Ana la Akzeb Walakeny Atagamal (I Am Not Lying But I Am Beautifying) and the award for Best Director for the film Estekalet Alemet Tharra (The Resignation of a Female Atom Scientist) and the 1992 documentary films’ award from the Leningrad festival.

Mohamed Metwally
At 73 years old, the Egyptian actor who played several unforgettable roles in acclaimed movies like Hassan and Murkos and TV series including all parts of the famous soap Layaly El-Helmya (Hemya Nights), died on February 17. Metwally, who graduated from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts, also participated in the American adventure film Sphinx.

Samir Zaher
The former Egyptian Football Association (EFA) President and former national team player died March 13 at the age of 74. Zaher’s time as the president of EFA was the most successful period in Egyptian football history; the national team won the African Cup of Nations four times in 1998, 2006, 2008 and 2010, and participated in the 2009 FIFA Confederation Cup in South Africa.

Baki Zaki Youssef
Egyptian military engineer and hero behind the plan which saw Egyptian soldiers break through the Bar Lev Line in October 1973 died on June 23 at the age of 87. Youssef, who had helped build the High Dam in Aswan, learned a tactic from his engineering days on the Nile and used high-pressure water cannon to rupture and breach the Bar Lev Line built by Israel along the entire east bank of the Suez Canal after seizing the Sinai Peninsula in 1967. In 1973, Youssef was awarded the first rank Military Medal of the Republic for his contribution to the 1973 victory. In 1984, upon his retirement from the army, he was awarded the Republic Collar of Distinction.

Ebrahim Saadah
Egyptian journalist and chairperson of Dar Akhbar el-Yom foundation died on December 12 at age 81. Saadah studied political economy in Switzerland, where he began to work as a news correspondent for Akhbar el-Yom from Geneva. Later, he became the head of the external investigations department at the newspaper, then deputy editor in chief and editor in chief of Akhbar el-Yom where he was famous for his column “The Last Column.” Saadah was also the editor in chief of Mayo newspaper (newspaper of the Egyptian National Party), becoming the first journalist to co-chair the editorial of a national newspaper and a party’s newspaper.

Hamdi Qandil
Veteran Egyptian journalist, news anchor and talk show host Hamdi Qandil died at age 82 on October 31. Qandil, who started his journalism career in the 1950s when he wrote for the Akher Sa’a (The Last Hour) magazine at the invitation of legendary journalist Mustafa Amin, presented a number of famous TV programs such as Aqwal al-Suhuf (In the Press), Ra’is el-Tahrir (Editor in Chief) and Qalam Rosas (Pencil). During the course of his career, Qandil was appointed director of the Arab Broadcasting Studios Union and worked with UNESCO from 1974 to 1986, specializing in national media. In 1987, he co-founded a satellite broadcasting company that later became known as MBC. His columns have appeared in Al-Masry Al-Youm and Al-Shorouk.

1/28/2019 11:54:17 AM
<![CDATA[Unexpected Finds]]>
And birds. All my previous trips had been in spring or fall when the oasis was heaving not with tourists but with migrating birds. Previous visits had clocked up nearly 60 species as the olive orchards and palm groves were bursting with warblers, chats and flycatchers and the lakes and springs, saline and fresh, were packed with plovers, shanks and other waders. This time, in winter, I was surprised by the paucity of birds. It seems that Siwa is largely a stopover for migrants rather than a wintering ground. Not all was lost. At my resort I found a small flock of Spanish Sparrows, an unseasonal Tawny Pipit and a brace of Common Snipe which were all new to me from the oasis. And the obligatory sunset at Fatnas Island produced a flock of some 30 Greater Flamingos. The island was packed and I stood out as the only person not taking a selfie.

The highlight of the trip was a huge surprise and was totally devoid of feathers. I was stomping round the palm groves barely a stone’s throw from the old fortress of Shali with the air filled not with birdsong but the calls of what I took to be Green Toads (the Egyptian Toad is the toad of the Valley and Delta—it does not reach Siwa. I stumbled through the undergrowth and came across a small pond and a chorus of plops as the amphibians dived for cover. And there they were in the water, heads emerging from above the pond weed. These were not Green Toads ,these were frogs.

Frogs and toads are superficially similar but toads are generally less tied to water, walk rather than hop and have a rough warty skin covered in tubercles. Frogs are more aquatic, hop and have much smoother skins. These were frogs —bright green frogs with the rear legs banded with dark brown and the back with similarly dark, seemingly variable, spotting. I took my notes, I took my photographs. Definitely frog but which frog?
Egypt is not a great place for frog-lovers. There are five species. Savigny’s Tree Frog is confined to North Sinai and the Sudan Ridged Frog has very few records from near Lake Manzala and Fayoum. The two more widespread frog species, the Mascarene Ridged Frog and the Levant Green Frog, are residents of the Nile Delta and Valley. None of these species have been recorded from Siwa.

So imagine my joy (probably no-one normal can!) when on returning to Cairo and consulting my Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Egypt by Sherif Baha El Din I was able to identify my frog. The fifth frog species for Egypt is the Saharan Green Frog and the only place it has ever been recorded in Egypt is Siwa. The description rang true too and it really is very green. So too the habitat. “Found in highly isolated localities in the Sahara, where it survives in very small water bodies, such as wells and cisterns, usually in oases”. Absolutely spot on! While the birds had let me down, I now have a new amphibian species under the belt.

It also seems to be rare. The guide continues, “Apparently restricted to Siwa Oasis, where it was first noted in 1994. Farid (1979) did not encounter the species during a 6 day search for the herpetofauna of the oasis in 1976.” Oh wow!

But Siwa left its best until last. Or rather the trip to Siwa left its best until last. Halfway along that road from Siwa to Marsa Matrouh is a rest house. Michelin star it is not. It is hygienically challenged and behind the latrines are piles of garbage that make conventional landfill seem positively alluring. It was at this ‘oasis’ the bus chose to stop and grasping the opportunity to stretch my legs Idisembarked with nothing more than an overpriced tea on my mind. As I stepped out immediately there were a number of birds around, some that I was able to identify immediately as Temminck’s Horned Larks.

This is a small desert bird, rather uniform orange brown above, pale below with a striking black and white head pattern and two small horns on the head, actually black feather tufts. A wonderful find in itself. And there was an adult male Blackcap non-resplendent in all gray with that black cap and a male Black Redstart. All good stuff.

And amongst these were three heavy, bulky small birds scurrying across the desert and at first glance just rather mousy dull. Up went the binoculars to reveal rather unstreaked upperparts, a distinctive head pattern with a rather darker circle arcing from behind the eye to the throat and the most enormous bill. A stonking great pale nutcracker of a bill. These were Thick-billed Larks. The streaking on the underparts was apparent and when they flew so did the dark primaries and white edge. These were definitely Thick-billed Larks.

This was a new species for me but the importance of the record only became apparent when I did my homework. It has been recorded in Egypt before but only in Sinai and occasionally along the Cairo-Suez road as a winter visitor. Here were three in Egypt’s Western Desert and almost certainly dispersals from the breeding population in the Mahgreb. More joy. I put the descriptor oasis in quote marks above but this rest house was exactly that. On all sides the Western Desert stretched flat and barren and austere but it proved to be a magnet in the wilderness for some very special species. I strode off the bus and almost tripped over a new life bird for me and a new record for the Western Desert. It was almost criminal such an enigmatic species should have been so easy. I never got my tea.
1/27/2019 11:51:45 AM
<![CDATA[Roman Meets Sahara]]>
Inspired by the majesty of the Saharan desert and the peaks of its golden dunes, Ben Halim’s La Sierra collection is an exploration of an undulating desert landscape glistening like liquid gold.

The series is emblematic of desert topography and features asymmetric, exaggerated silhouettes experimenting with the ideas of balance and movement. The collection thoughtfully mixes gold-plated brass and 925 silver with custom-made resin stones, offering an artful yet wearable composition.
1/26/2019 12:05:14 PM
<![CDATA[Hisham Kharma: a Fusion Musician with Humanitarian Mission ]]>
Kharma’s melodies cross all cultural barriers taking the listener to different worlds. His first official release by Virgin Megastore and Hybrid Records was First Voyage.

Kharma’s second album with Sony Music was the Arabesque series, which brought him together with Grammy Award winner Yanni and Cat Atilla. His third and latest album Al-Yaqeen (Faith) was released in 2016; and gained widespread success. “Sahla we Basita” (Simple and Easy), “Shouf be Albak” (See with your heart) and “Fel Malakout” (In the Kingdom) are among his most famous hits. Kharma has become an icon of electronic music in Egypt; he has recently released his latest joint single “Youmeen” (Two days) with Hany Adel; and is about to release a new album.
Kharma has also recently cooperated for the first time with awards winner Indian singer Tanvi Shah of the movie “Slumdog Millionaire”. This cooperation comes among a number of remarkable projects that gathered Kharma with internationally renowned artists.

Your music is very different… Who influenced you to make this new and creative mix and to start this line of music?

This is the first time I have been asked that question and what I am going to tell you now I have never said before to any media outlet, especially about what inspired me to start my music line. You are getting out of me something I never thought to analyse so I am analysing it with you now (He laughs).

First of all, I follow all types of music from all over the world but I love Asian music in general; from India, China and Malaysia. I love ethnic music of the Asian area in general, in addition to Armenia. I love all kinds of music that depend on ethnic instruments. I consider electronic music a common world language because it is not attributed to a specific country. I studied in Miami for two years, so I was also influenced by Latin music with its unique percussions like bongos and congas. I always try in my music to use acoustic instruments and ethnic, oriental [ones] from Asia, and bongos and congas. I tend every time to use different mix in my music but all of the previous formed my sentiment and inspiration. The deep inspiration started in 2006 when I travelled to US and Germany and performed my post graduate studies in art direction and worked there. I used to deal with people in creative context; so this created a strong bond between us. At that time, I lived in Miami and it is a Cosmopolitan city that houses people from different nationalities and religions; so dealing with them opened my mind. I started to realize and respect the humanity idea; that despite we are from different nationalities and religions there is common bond that brings us together, which is humanity. This principal inspired made me decide that when I will compose my own music, I will make it to serve as a common language to communicate with different people from all over the world, bearing in mind of course that it should contain that oriental taste as this is my roots. I want my music to be my communication language with the whole world. I knew that I succeeded in that after I received feedbacks from people abroad; so I realised that my music reached them because music has no language barrier, it is just one language that unites us together.

What are your most famous musical fusions?

My fi