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Several of my articles on Garden City were plagiarized word for word by novelist MEKKAWI SAID (winner of the Egyptian State price for literature!!!!) and re-published under his own name in a three-part series in El-Masry El-Youm daily in September 2015.

Cheers to our "talented" literature prize awardee. Your pain his gain !!!


V irtual R eality C airo L andmarks
by Samir Raafat
Cairo Times, 26 April 2001

TV5 logo

What if Cairo unfolds and its splendid stories splash out like a clear fountain in a starry night transporting you as though by special magic to a city with a million secrets and stories? What if its most important landmarks were handed over to you and you alone, for one day? Fancy yourself simultaneously tarrying around Cairo's busiest square, lolling in a felluca under the famed Nilometer, listening to a pop concert in Cairo's underground and sipping tea at Naguib Mahfouz's favorite hangout not far from the romantic Beit el Sennari.

Better still, you're tearing around the nation's capital in a rickety taxi gone mad. One minute you're taking in 6th of October City's architectural follies, rejecting the cheap and cheezy look along Pyramids Avenue, and the next you're on your way to the swanky gated golf course of Katameya Heights passing though several obscene slums you never knew existed. Somewhere along the way you admire with disbelief at some of downtown Cairo's bolder geometry pitted against belle époque architecture. You are amazed at that grubby narrow street splitting fossilized church from debilitated mosque.

How about you're doing your best to hear your New Age guide telling you about the riddle of the Sphinx while annoying camel-owners and vexing papyrus hawkers jibbering away like monkeys try selling you their middling services. Next thing, you're in a stylish downtown restaurant debating whether to go for the Canard á l'Orange or make do with a Coupe Fructidor. Having second thoughts? Then go for the sugar cane guzzle and Tammi'a at MacTabei's.

And what if you could do all of the above never having to leave your own living room. Yes, our city will come alive and pulse with all the ageless energy of Misr' Um al-Dunya. This will take place on Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29 when TV5, France's international TV satellite channel, seen all over the world, dedicates two entire days to Cairo.

So here is your chance to rediscover Cairo in both its splendor and its unmitigated grubbiness. To learn what others think of the city. To savor its sights and sounds and confront its chaos and destitution.

To all you Cairotica fans, city architects, urban historians, frustrated tenants and city commuters, I say get your VCRs ready for the best show in town is about to begin.

"Le Caire Ca Me Dit", an obvious play on the French word for Saturday, has been in the offing for sometime now. Which is why teams of cameramen, TV editors, sound engineers and urban historians parachuted into Cairo for the last couple of months putting together a cohesive reportage on our nation's capital some of which will be aired on real time.

Also in the loop is a collection of leading authors, urban historians, sociologists, restaurant owners, musicians, reporters who, together or separately, will candidly evoke the city that never slumbers.

"Le Caire Ca Me Dit" is a made-for-TV5 City-special which appears four times a year. Three cities already covered are Dakar in West Africa, Hanoi in South East Asia and Rio de Janeiro in South America. And now it's our turn.

But that's not all.

TV5 put together a special team whose task it was to design a comprehensive French-Arabic web page on Cairo. Accessible on the page is both dynamic and interactive which means you have the chance to contribute, rebuke, praise or suggest.

Following TV5's two-day Special, the cities of Cairo and Paris will simultaneously launch a one-month festival entitled "Les Francais Aiment Le Caire" (The French Love Cairo). For us, in Egypt, this means that what had been a virtual 48-hour expedition through Cairo can now be experienced in real time. Details of the varied presentations, song and cinema festivals, debates and conferences will be posted on the web as well as in the usual "What's On" publications.

Artists and Cairo historians alike will be pleased to learn that on loan from the City of Paris and other French cultural institutions is a multitude of 18th and 19th century paintings by Pascal Coste, Prisse d'Avennes, Macherau dealing strictly with Cairo.

At a time where we are often accused of a shortage of deserving publications on Cairo, The Greater Cairo Library (Zamalek), itself an important player during the May festivities, will introduce two unique French publications on Cairo's architectural landmarks. Although pricey, these books will be available in libraries and cultural centers so that the younger readers can better understand the philosophy underpinning Um al-Dunya.

One can only hope that following such a valiant effort, viewers and participants alike will discover the dissenting tradition from which this great metropolitan sprang from.

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articles posted on were published in the following books by Samir W Raafat: THE EGYPTIAN BOURSE, Zeitouna, Cairo -- CAIRO THE GLORY YEARS, Harpocrates, Alexandria -- HISTORY & SOCIETY IN A CAIRO SUBURB; MAADI 1904-1962, Palm Press, Cairo -- PRIVILEGED FOR THREE CENTURIES, printed digitally and bound by Elias Printing, Egypt

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