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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 !!!



researched by Samir Raafat

According to court chronicler Ahmed Shafik Pasha the location of the late 19th century Montazah Palace came about during a moonlight trip by Khedive Abbas Hilmi. At the time, Alexandria's eastern border was demarcated by his motherís Palace of Sorrows (a.k.a. Saray al-Ramleh), at what later became known as Victoria tram terminal. Beyond this point it was all sandy hills, beaches and bays pockmarked with palm trees.

"With him on this particular moonlight escapade was his secretary Rolier Bey, Ali Shaheen Bey from Protocol and myself, along with a 40-pax retinue including a musical band," says Shafik. All participants rode 'Makaria' donkeys. The first stop was at Sidi Bishr where a sheik by the same name is buried. "As we continued eastwards we ran into what must have been an old fortification from the Mohammed Ali days with a few rusty cannons still in evidence."

Fascinated by the topography which included several grottos, various hilltops and a speck of an island, Khedive Abbas decided to build a summer palace in these parts. Enquiring as to who owned the surrounding land, he was told that except for a small plot of land on which stood a wooden hut belonging to the wealthy Alexandrian Monsieur Augustino Sinadino, the entire land belonged to the Coastguard Department, which accounted for the two remaining lookout points and a few old canons from the days of Viceroy Mohammed Ali.

Hereafter was born the Salamlik designed by incumbent court engineer Fabricius Bey with a few changes subsequently introduced by the khedive's favorite architect, the Austrian Antonio Lasiac. As for the landscaping, flora and fauna (including gazelles), this was left entirely to Abbas Hilmi's whim. Eagerly assisting him in in these mundane tasks was his Hungarian paramour, Countess May von Torok whom he eventually married (and later divorced).

According to Shafik, the name 'Montazah' was chosen by courtier Mahmoud Shukry Pasha, head of the government's Turkish Diwan.

The world-famous Haramlik was added during the reign of King Fouad. It would later become a cultural landmark as an international casino during the shortl-lived administration of the Italian-run Montazah-Mokattam Company, which had leased Montazah Palace shortly after the 1952 coup that toppled the monarchy.

Montazah Palace
Montazah bay bird view 1930

Montazah Palace
August 1963: the haramlik tower seen from the Salamlik before the unsavoury Palestine Hotel obstructed the view
the marina with the Montazah Palace Port building flanked by a jetty and the newly contructed private cabins

Montazah-Mokattam COmpany
Montazah Palace properly exploited by private sector leasing private seaside cabins while maintaining the palace grounds, amenities and buildings

Montazah-Mokattam COmpany

Bob Conrad
August 1963: actor Bob Conrad of Hawaiian Eye fame surrounded by eager fans at the at Semiramis beach during the Second Annual TV festival held at Montazah palace

Gardener McKay
August 1963: TV festival guest Gardner McKay of Adventures in Paradise fame

TV festival
August 1963: International TV festival at Montazah Palace

American actor
August 1963: TV festival

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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