Nile Regina El Wardani, MPH, MPhil, Ph.D. writes about art and culture in the Middle East with an emphasis on Egypt. She has worked in arts production with many esteemed organizations including the Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and La Jolla Music Society.
She has worked for 27 years in Africa, the Middle East and the US in the fields of public health and development with an emphasis on human rights, reproductive health and women's empowerment. She received a Master in Public Health from UCLA and a PhD from the renowned London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She was awarded the Middle East Award for Social Science Research for her research on policy, governance, human rights, and civil society. Nile has consulted for UNESCO, UNIFEM, WHO, and the Egyptian Ministries of Health, Education and Information. She has worked with bilateral donors including USAID, Finnida, Danida and Dutch Aid. As a professor and teacher she has taught at the American University in Cairo, UCSD, SDSU, UCLA, The Bishops School and study abroad programs in Europe. She is currently teaching global public health at California State University San Marcos and writing for Obelisque Magazine in addition to guest lecturing at UCSD and SDSU.
Dr. Mostafa El Razzaz approaches his work with delight, passion, enchantment and discipline. He is one of the rarest of birds. As an artist he began to spread his wings at the age of 19 when he sailed down the Nile from Cairo following a sense of adventure and a desire to know and understand Nubia. It was 1962 when he lived amongst the Nubians, that he began his artistic endeavors sketching and drawing the uniquely Nubian architecture and people. These became his first “elements” which have remained essential features of his canvas for more than six decades.
Borg El Borollos, a tiny fishing village with a big history, is fast becoming known globally for its distinctive artistic endeavors. Situated near the Mediterranean Sea half-way between Damietta in the East and Alexandria in the West, the village rests on a small peninsula tucked between the sea and Lake Borollos. For centuries a small community of fishermen and their families have made it their home. The village has now grown to 100,000 inhabitants. Once hailed as “the Bride of North Delta,” it is located in the governorate of Kafr El Sheikh.
As I entered an ancient splendid building West il Balad and made my way up the endless spiral staircase of worn marble and ironworks to the top floor I found a bustling atmosphere of artists, singers, instrumental musicians and spectators spanning all the lands of Egypt. Forty young Egyptian singers, men and women, three rababa players from Upper Egypt and two tabla players readied themselves. Stick dancers stood by with stick in hand.
Ahmed Khalifa (Architect) and Shereen Helmy (Interior Designer) are a young husband and wife team that is beating the odds and making a name for themselves in Egypt and soon internationally. The headquarters of their architectural firm KH Studio located in Heliopolis is in itself a testament of what they stand for; cutting edge, clean lines, natural robust yet alluring materials, sophisticated, state-of-the-art, functional, comfortable andaesthetically appealing. They have been inspired by renowned interior designers and architects such as Mies Van Der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Kelly Hoppen and Sir Norman Foster.
This eclectic young Egyptian designer Walid Khairy has found his passion in fashion. He is urbane and gothic at the same time, flashy, modern and classic all at once. He mixes intense splashes of color and graffiti art with ancient Islamic classic geometry. And it works. He is at once a hip gothic Egyptian dude and simultaneously tied to his traditional roots. Take a look at his sci-fi-Avatar-style jumpsuit finished off with a harem pant-leg trimmed with colorful traditional geometric embroidery. And it works.
The New Hermopolis is a cultural village, which is the vision and creation of the social alchemist Dr. Mervat Nasser. Coined by Nasser, social alchemy refers to transmutation of society through the Unity of Being as a fundamental principle that leads one to the desire of helping humanity to evolve into greater perfection.
The New Hermopolis aims to capitalize on the unique spiritual and cultural heritage of this ancient city towards the economic, spiritual and cultural revival of a largely neglected and impoverished fragile fragment of Egypt.
Alchemy, which originally comes from the Arabic word “Al Kimiya” (300 BC) literally means “the transmutation” was adopted by the Arabs from the Alexandrians and thence spread to Europe via Spain in 711 AD. Nasser was drawn to this spiritual location, once the ancient city of Hermopolis, located near Tuna El Gebel, Mallawi, El Minia.
A deeply philosophical artist, Al Zaeem Ahmed carried thousands of photographs, sketches and artifacts with him from Upper Egypt and the place of his birth when he displaced himself to Cairo. He felt the need to carry the moods, manners, tangible memories and feelings of his internal biosphere – his village.
Little is unique about the components used in the art of Mohamed Khalil Mandour. They are simply water, clay, a wheel and kiln—the tools of a potter. What is exceptional is his use of those elements to express his artistic vision, capturing an experience of perfect balance and abundance within the confines of a vessel.
The purpose of his art, he says, is in the impression.
“The beauty of art is in its simplicity. You leave yourself and you produce.”*
Born in 1950 near the centuries-old mosque of Amr ibn al-As and raised in the al Fawakhir (Potters) district of Fustat, the artist began his childhood without a father, who died before the young Mandour reached the age of one.
Recently OBELISQUE discovered Reform Studio. Based in Cairo, their maxim is: ReCreate – ReUse –ReVive.
Created – or should we say – REcreated by two dynamic Egyptian women, Hend Riadand Mariam Hazem – REform Studio is an Umbrella of many RE’s. They seek to REcreate existing idea, REdevelop objects, REuse materials, REvive cultures and REform our world. This dynamic two won the Silver A’ Design Award 2014 for sustainable products and green design, as well as the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award for sustainable impact and business plan competition. OBELISQUE congratulates them!