Artist Mostafa El Razzaz Loves Life

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By Nile El Wardani

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.

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Fabulous Art at Lake Borollos

borollos art lake

By Nile El Wardani

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.

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Sufis and the Storyteller Hassan El Geretly

sufis

By Nile El Wardani

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.

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The New Hermopolis—A Cultural Village

transforming-social-alchemy

By Nile El Wardani

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.

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Artist El Azeem Ahmed

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By Nile El Wardani

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.

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Reflections on Work and Life in Egypt Today

Here in Egypt, despite the ongoing negative worldwide media reports, Egyptians continue to work, live, study and play.

At this moment I sit around a large rectangular table with twelve Egyptian managers (6 women, 6 men, age 35-55) who are engaged in their bi-weekly steering committee meeting at Ipsos Egypt, the country office of the 2nd largest research firm in the world. Ipsos, based in Paris, France, is located in 85 countries worldwide.

These twelve young Egyptian professionals are skilled, educated, empowered and committed to their work, families, company and country.

As the only American working with them, I can say without trepidation that they are amongst the top professionals I have had the pleasure of working with for the past 30 years of professional life.

Not only are they competent, precise, effective, professional and ethical in all their dealings, they are also supportive and kind to each other. There is no semblance of back-stabbing or negative competition. It is a real pleasure to labor with them and I feel grateful to find myself in such a healthy and positive work environment. They get the work done, creatively and professionally and they laugh and smile at the same time.

Ipsos Egypt offices are located on the Corniche El Nil in Maadi, Cairo. As we participate in our steering meeting, we see the Nile River below us and the green banks of river on the other side remind us each moment of the ageless dignity and life in this marvelous country. We can see the farmers working in their fields, the donkeys carrying their loads, the water buffalo turning around the water pumps and again we are reminded that Egyptians continue to work, taking care of their small piece of this magnificent country, whether they be a corporate manager or a farmer, despite the turmoil Egypt finds itself in.

There is something so very real and romantic about this scene….something that the world news media never begins to understand or capture or relay. There is hope. There is resolve. There is endless love for this land, this people, this country. Something I have not seen or felt, quite like this, in any other country.

I see this hope and resolve and tenacity in my fellow Egyptian Ipsos colleagues and I see it in the farmers toiling on the banks of the Nile, outside our Ipsos window.

No wonder that Egypt was rated 4th most positive economic outlook, amongst 25 countries worldwide in the Ipsos Global Advisor, for the next six months.

The Ipsos Global Economic Pulse (a monthly syndicated survey of 25 countries) welcomed the addition of a new country: Egypt in Jan. 2014. Egyptians reflect notably positive assessments of their national economy (64%), raising the global aggregate two points (39%) and the regional aggregate in the Middle East and Africa three points (54%). More than half (54%) of Egyptians rate the economy in their local area to be ‘good’ while six in ten (61%) expect it to be ‘stronger’ in the next six months. After three months without change, the average global economic assessment of national economies surveyed in 25 countries inches higher this month with the inclusion of Egypt in the global survey. When asked to consider the current economic situation in their country, 39% of global citizens rate it to be ‘good.’ Without Egypt, the figure remains unchanged at 37%.

Saudi Arabia (86%) is the country with the highest proportion of respondents rating their national economies to be ‘good,’ followed by Germany (75%), Sweden (72%), Egypt (64%), China (63%), and Australia (59%). On the other end of the spectrum, a small minority (5%) of those in Italy rate their national economies as ‘good’, followed by Spain (7%), France (8%), South Korea (17%) and Hungary (17%).

So lift up your heads Ipsos colleagues because we have something to smile about.

Raising Public Awareness Through Televion

This Spring 2013 I created a new course at the American University in Cairo (School of Global Affairs and Public Policy)  called Raising Public Awareness through Television Production.  Here is a bit about the course followed by the LINKS to the Videos that the students produced under my leadership.Students were required to conduct in-depth research on their topic and create mind maps.  They were then required to conduct focus groups in the community and test their ideas and ultimately their scripts with their target audiences before filming. Their community partners were amazingly helpful.The students decided to address the following issues:
1.) Domestic Violence, 2.) Trash and 3.) Sexual Harassment.

Students talk about awareness-raising and this class gives them a chance to go beyond talk and develop the research, writing, and film-making skills to make concrete progress in that direction. My students have been very enthusiastic about this experiential learning opportunity and I hope that AUC will be able to repeat it in the years to come. We already have request from UNDP to explore working on Regional women issues and empowerment by collaborating to have PSAs on common issues amongst Arab women to be aired on Satellite Channels.

A course such as this is an excellent way for AUC students from different disciplines to work together and at the same time to work within their communities and give real service to their country during this transitional period.  I can see this course expanding to include working partnerships between students in other disciplines including environment, women’s studies, public health, urban planning, development studies, water, etc.

After decades of keeping Egyptians in the dark about issues that affect their every day life, it is time that Egyptians are given pertinent information that will help the country develop and the people become educated and aware of their problems and more  importantly their solutions. PSAs televised on Egyptian TV are one instrument that can fulfill this promise.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Meade

I am very proud of my PPAD 570 students. They have worked very hard. I admire them and I expect great things from them in the future. I know they will continue to serve their communities and their countries. They have proven to be committed, intelligent, sensitive, tolerant, hardworking, thoughtful and I believe some of them will be Egypt’s future leaders.  FYI – they are all young women.  Below are the PSAs that they produce under my teaching and leadership.

The PSAs are all in Arabic and are made for Egyptian Audiences.  (We are working on English Subtitles for international audiences).

I would love to hear your comments and reactions.

Many thanks for your consideration.
Please share the PSAs with others.
Sincerely,
Nile El Wardani, MPH, PhD

Here are the links:  Please GIVE US FEEDBACK!

Domestic Violence:

http://youtu.be/pRmA2olerAY

http://youtu.be/DKAbAQ7luX0

Trash:

http://youtu.be/L40B5Tvst-Q

http://youtu.be/qfeCsZH-dzQ

http://youtu.be/8H_B8FpRnJE

http://youtu.be/zIJtjq6H-qg

Sexual Harassment : Group 1

http://youtu.be/pq5f0xz846A

http://youtu.be/n7O3i_RhR9k

Dr. Nile Regina El Wardani, MPH, PhD
Adjunct Professor in Public Policy
Public Policy and Administration Department
School of Global Affairs and Public Policy
American University in Cairo
Cairo, Egypt
www.nileelwardani.org