Egypt: COVID-19 Updates
Hard Work to Get Back to ’Normal‘
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Issue 1855- June- 04/06/2021
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Three Seas Initiative Promise for Black Sea Region www.majal a.com
A Weekly Political News Magazine
www.majalla.com/eng Launched in 2015, The Three Seas Initiative (3SI) is a massive infrastructure investment project involving 12 European countries from the Baltic, Adriatic, and Black Sea regions. The huge geopolitical importance of the 3SI has seen Russia and China’s attempt to challenge US-EU strategic interests and democratic ideals in the region. However, Central and Eastern European nations seek deeper unity and cooperation with both – Western Europe and the United States. In this week’s cover story, Maia Otarashvili explores the complex “vulnerabilities” of the Black Sea region in particular, as she pinpoints the region’s desperate need for Western-led economic development, which also have vital implications to more sustainable European integration. The world is still struggling with Covid19- and its impact on life, while vaccination processes are going on full speed. Various factors affect the promise of return to normalcy, but hopes are pinned on “herd immunity” to be achieved by the massive vaccine rollout. Saudi Arabia is one good example hoping to inoculate most of its citizens and expats within few months in order to restore that elusive sense of normality all over the world. Motasem El Felou shows us how the kingdom has fared in its hard work and what to expect in the coming months. In parallel, Egypt the most populous Arab country has some updates on the Covid19- situation. Salma Adham wraps up the Egyptian government efforts in this regard, highlighting the achievements of the vaccination campaign and the precautionary measure in effect. Read these articles and more on our website eng. majalla.com. As always, we welcome and value our readers’ feedback and we invite you to take the opportunity to leave your comments on our website.
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International Child Protection Day celebration in Kiev
A girl attends a performance hosted by the Ministry of the Interior that includes police, border guards, and rescuers celebrating International Children’s Day in Kyiv, Ukraine June 1, 2021- Ukraine )Reuters Photos(
Celebrations of Republic Day in Italy
The Frecce Tricolori acrobatic team flies over the Milite Ignoto (Unknown Soldier) Monument at Venezia square for the celebrations of Republic Day, in Rome, Italy, 02 June 2021. The anniversary marks the proclamation of the Italian Republic in 1946. ROME, , Italy )EPA Photos(
A WEEK IN THE MIDDLE EAST EGYPT Egypt's intelligence chief met Hamas leaders in Gaza on Monday to try to bolster a ceasefire between the Palestinian militant group and Israel and to discuss reconstruction plans following the recent hostilities, Egyptian and Palestinian officials said. The visit was the first by an Egyptian intelligence chief to the enclave since the early 2000s. "The discussion is focused on ways to cement the calm and Gaza reconstruction plans following the recent Israeli aggression," said a Hamas official, who asked not to be named. Hamas officials, led by Gaza chief Yehya Al-Sinwar, would urge Cairo to pressure Israel to stop "its assaults against our people in Jerusalem and Sheikh Jarrah," he said.
The Saudi ministry of health has announced that 40 percent of the Kingdom’s population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccines from the beginning of the vaccination campaign till Sunday May 30. "40 out of every 100 people in the Kingdom have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccines to date,” said Assistant Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health for Preventive Health and Consultant in Contagious Diseases Abdullah Asiri on his Twitter account. The ministry said that more than 13.9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered across 587 sites to date. The ministry has decided to postpone giving second doses of the vaccines to beneficiaries on April 10 to speed up the tempo to reach the largest number of individuals in society who have taken the first dose and raise the level of immunity.
LEBANON Lebanon is "in the heart of great danger", and needs friendly countries to save it, the caretaker prime minister, Hassan Diab, said on Wednesday (Jun 2). "Either you save it now before it's too late or else no regrets will help," Diab said in a televised address. Lebanon is in the throes of a deep financial crisis that is posing the biggest threat to its stability since the 1975-1990 civil war. Diab has been steering the government in a caretaker role since his cabinet resigned in the aftermath of the Aug 4 Beirut port blast, which devastated
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday and emphasized U.S. commitment to helping Saudi Arabia defend its territory and people, the Pentagon said. Austin and Prince Mohammed discussed regional security, particularly efforts to end the war in Yemen, and "ongoing bilateral efforts to improve Saudi Arabia’s defenses," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said in a statement. Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, who have controlled most of northern Yemen since 2014, have kept up cross-border attacks on Saudi Arabia and are pressing an offensive to seize Yemen's gas-rich Marib region.
ISRAEL Israel's parliament on Wednesday elected former centre-left politician Isaac Herzog as the country's president, a role that is largely ceremonial but also meant to promote unity among ethnic and religious groups. Herzog beat rival candidate Miriam Peretz, an educator and mother of two Israeli infantry officers killed in battle, by a vote of 87 lawmakers to 26. He will assume the presidency next month, replacing Reuven Rivlin, who is ending his seven-year term. First elected to parliament in 2003, Herzog, 60, went on to lead the Labour party and hold several portfolios in coalition governments. His most recent public post was as head of the Jewish Agency for Israel, which encourages immigration.
UAE The United Arab Emirates will suspend the entry of travelers coming from Vietnam starting June 5, as part of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the UAE state-news agency WAM reported on Thursday. “This also includes suspending the entry of travelers who were in Vietnam during a period of 14 days before coming to the UAE with the continuation of flights, as it will allow the transfer of passengers from the UAE to Vietnam on flights,” according to WAM.
OMAN Oman said on Wednesday it will allow Omanis and citizens of other Gulf countries to move across its land borders daily for work, while also loosening other pandemic-related restrictions imposed for health reasons, state TV said on Twitter. Oman also extended a ban on entering the country for travellers from Sudan, Brazil, Nigeria, Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt and the Philippines, Oman TV said. It also said it would not allow entry for people coming from Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam, as well as anyone who has been in any of the banned countries in the prior 14 days, starting on June 5 and until further notice.
IRAQ President Tayyip Erdogan has warned Iraq that Turkey will "clean up" a refugee camp which it says provides a safe haven for Kurdish militants, threatening to take its long military campaign deeper inside Iraqi territory. Turkish forces have stepped up attacks on bases of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) inside northern Iraq over the last year, focusing their firepower and incursions mainly on a strip of territory up to 30 km (about 20 miles) inside Iraq. But Erdogan said Makhmour, a camp 180 km south of the Turkish border which has hosted thousands of Turkish refugees for more than two decades, was an "incubator" for militants and must be tackled. "If the United Nations does not clean it up, we will do it as a UN member," Erdogan said, adding that Ankara believed Makhmour posed as great a threat as the PKK's stronghold in the Qandil mountains further north.biologically, was manifest in the ultimatum that was repeated in so many different villages in Iraq - to convert or die."
A WEEK ACROSS THE WORLD
The White House laid out a plan for the United States to share 25 million surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to the world, with the first shots shipping as soon as Thursday, and said it would ease other countries' access to U.S.-made supplies for vaccine production. President Joe Biden said the United States would give the vaccines without expectation of political favors in return. The dose shipments are t COVID-19 vaccines that Biden has pledged to provide internation grows about the huge disparity in vaccination rates between adva countries.
CHINA Married Chinese couples may have up to three children, China announced on Monday, in a major shift from the existing limit of two after recent data showed a dramatic decline in births in the world's most populous country. Beijing scrapped its decades-old one-child policy in 2016, replacing it with a two-child limit to try and stave off risks to its economy from a rapidly aging population. But that failed to result in a sustained surge in births given the high cost of raising children in Chinese cities, a challenge that persiststo this day. The policy change will come with "supportive measures, which will be conducive to improving our country's population structure, fulfilling the country's strategy of actively coping with an ageing population", the official Xinhua news agency said following a politburo meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping.
CHINA A man aged 41 in China's eastern province of Jiangsu has been confirmed as the first human case of infection with a rare strain of bird flu known as H10N3, China's National Health Commission (NHC) said on Tuesday. Many different strains of bird flu are present in China and some sporadically infect people, usually those working with poultry. There is no indication that H10N3 can spread easily in humans. The man, a resident of the city of Zhenjiang, was hospitalized on April 18 and diagnosed with H10N3 on May 28, the health commission said. It did not give details of how the man was infected. He is now stable and ready to be discharged. Investigations of his close contacts found no other cases, the NHC said. No other cases of human infection with H10N3 have been reported globally, it added.
journalists in recent months in Afghanistan.
Two separate bomb blasts on two public transport buses killed at least 12 civilians in the Afghan capital Kabul, security officials said on Wednesday, the latest in a series of such attacks in recent weeks as foreign forces withdraw. Both attacks took place on Tuesday evening in western parts of the capital that are home to many from the country's Shia community, a religious minority in Afghanistan targeted in the past by groups such as Islamic State, the officials said. Ferdaws Faramarz, Kabul police spokesman, said both buses were carrying passengers when the explosion occurred that killed at least 12 and wounded 10 more. The police launched an investigation, he said. Roadside bombs, small magnetic bombs attached under vehicles, and other attacks have targeted members of security forces, judges, government officials, civil society activists and
Sri Lanka on Thursday braced f chemicals sank off its western man-made environmental disas The Singapore-registered MV X tonnes of nitric acid along with city of Negombo when a fire e Flaming containers filled with c emergency crews sought to co The ship, which was only four m crew tried to tow the vessel to abandoned after the rear of the
the first of some 80 million nally this month as concern anced economies and developing
ETHIOPIA Ethiopian pro-government demonstrators denounced the United States on Sunday for imposing restrictions on aid over the Tigray conflict, at a massive rally organised by the authorities to show support for their positions. More than 10,000 people attended the rally, some carrying banners written in English, Arabic and Amharic. Slogans included: “USA show us your neutrality”, “Ethiopia doesn’t need a caretaker”, and “Fill the dam”, a reference to a huge Nile dam opposed by Egypt and Sudan. The demonstration was larger than typical pro-government rallies, and the public criticism of the United States was rare.
for the possibility of an oil spill after a cargo ship laden with coast, in what is already the country's worst ever ster. X-Press Pearl, carrying 1,486 containers, including 25 h other chemicals and cosmetics, was anchored off the port erupted onboard after an explosion on May 20. chemicals tumbled into the sea from the ship's deck as ontain the blaze over the ensuing two weeks. months old, began to sink early on Wednesday. A salvage o deeper water, away from the coast, but the attempt was e ship touched the sea bed.
IRAN Iran’s largest navy warship sank in the Gulf of Oman Wednesday after firefighters were unable to contain a huge fire which swept through the vessel, the country's media reported. Around 400 troops fled the Kharg after it caught fire in unclear circumstances, state media reported, with 20 suffering injuries. The British-built ship was named after the island that serves as the main oil terminal for Iran. Firefighters battled for almost 21 hours to save the vessel before it sank at around 8:30 a.m. local (1 a.m. ET) on Wednesday morning near the Iranian port of Jask, some 790 miles southeast of Tehran on the Gulf of Oman near the Strait of Hormuz — the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf.
MYANMAR The EU will impose a new round of sanctions on Myanmar's military junta and its economic interests in the coming days, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell told Reuters on Thursday (Jun 3). In an interview in Jakarta after meetings with Southeast Asian diplomats, Borrell said the fresh sanctions from the EU would be the third batch introduced since the military ousted Myanmar's democratically-elected government on Feb 1. "There is a third row of sanctions in preparation that will be approved (in) the coming days (targeting) personnel of the military junta and also the entity that represents the economic interests of the military," he said. Since the coup, EU sanctions have frozen assets or applied travel bans on 21 military and civilian members of Myanmar's junta. European citizens and companies are also forbidden from making funds available to those sanctioned.
FRANCE France will start offering Covid-19 vaccines to everyone between 12 and 18 on June 15, President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday. During a visit to the village of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie in southern France, Macron also noted that 50 percent of French adults have now received at least one Covid vaccine jab, calling it "truly a turning point" in the country's inoculation drive. Vaccine supplies have increased sharply recently, prompting officials to open up appointments to all adults earlier this week, several weeks ahead of schedule. With the country just beginning to bounce back from a severe third wave of infections, Macron's government is keen to quickly expand the vaccine coverage to slow the spread of variants that could spell fresh disaster.
Three Seas Initiative Promise for Black Sea Region
Call for U.S.-Europe to Support 3SI Maia Otarashvili The Three Seas Initiative (3SI) was launched in 2015 as a massive infrastructure investment project involving 12 European countries from the Baltic, Adriatic, and Black Sea regions. Austria,
Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia represent almost a third of the European Union by area, are home to over 110 million people, and make up the fastest growing economies in Europe. Yet their
communist past – half a century spent under authoritarian rule while separated from Western Europe - has left significant gaps in their development, particularly in terms of infrastructure and connectivity. It is estimated that over one trillion euros is needed to make up for the shortfall in investments in the infrastructure, energy, and digital fields. New ports, highways, railways, and pipelines are needed to increase and ease connectivity in this region, which in turn would help accelerate economic growth and development and help Central and Eastern Europe catch up with Western Europe in this regard. These shared challenges brought the heads of the 12 states together six years ago, forming the 3SI. The Initiative holds an annual summit hosted by one of the member nations, and now includes a commercial investment fund as the main vehicle to finance key infrastructure projects in the region while granting a diversified investment and an attractive return to its investors.
Jean-Claude Juncker (C), President of the European Commission and representatives of the Three Seas Initiative (3SI or TSI) takes part in a TSI Summit, on September 18, 2018 at the Cotroceni Palace, the Romanian Presidency headquarters in Bucharest.
In the time of great power competition when Russia and China have risen as main challengers to US-EU strategic interests and democratic ideals, Central and Eastern European nations seek deeper unity and cooperation with both – Western Europe and the United States rail networks.
GEOPOLITICAL IMPORTANCE 3SI OF
In the post-Covid and post-Trump West, where deepened transatlantic cooperation and renewed focus on US-European shared The 3SI Fund focuses on three major areas: democratic ideals seems inevitable, the transport; energy, efficiency, and security; 3SI carries vast geopolitical importance. In and digital and information technology. One recent years, within the auspices of its Belt of its most notable and innovative projects and Road Initiative, China has formed a includes the “Greenergy Data Centers” 1+17 cooperation initiative with European project, which will be completed this year in countries, pouring billions in FDI and Estonia first, and will later cover the entire investing in major infrastructure projects region. “Greenergy will develop much- such as ports in Greece, Spain, and Belgium. needed infrastructure across the Three Seas Russia, on the other hand, remains the only region to meet the growing compute, storage energy supplier to many of these countries, and connectivity needs of enterprises and and has used their energy dependence as consumers. Greenergy plans to develop a political leverage. For many of the vulnerable number of data center projects in the Three European nations, especially in the aftermath Seas region over the coming years, with the of the 2008 economic crisis, attracting Greenergy platform servicing the growing Chinese investments and ensuring low energy needs of customers across the CEE region prices from Russia have seemed like obvious in an otherwise under-supplied market for solutions to boosting economic growth. But such infrastructure.” Unlike 5G technology, much like the energy-dependence on Russia green energy-based data storage centers – especially in the aftermath of the Ukraine provide an opportunity to invest in cross- crisis in 2014, economic ties with China border projects as data-flow is not limited have started to appear more like a political by national borders. Other projects aim to trap. Back in May Lithuania even left the develop greater port capacity, help make 1+17 framework over its soured relations Europe fully green-energy reliant, and add with China, calling the initiative divisive
and suggesting the EU take a more wholistic approach to China in a “1+27” format. The 3SI is a major undertaking – a project that will require plenty of time and money in order to achieve its pragmatic goals, but also in order to fulfill its geopolitical potential. In the time of great power competition when Russia and China have risen as main challengers to US-EU strategic interests and democratic ideals, Central and Eastern European nations seek deeper unity and
arguably one of the greatest vulnerabilities in the 3SI region is in the Black Sea basin. The 3SI currently only consists of the EU member states that are located in the three seas region, so it currently excludes Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia.
cooperation with both – Western Europe and the United States. In this context the 3SI represents a major vehicle for sustainable and deeper European integration, and a tool for greater confidence-building and cooperation between the EU and the United States. The Initiative’s leaders present it as a European project – something that is one of the development tools for the EU, not counter to the EU. Thus, the European Commission is closely involved in the Initiative, and Germany is a major partner. The Biden administration has also expressed its support for 3SI, but American and Western European financial investments will be the most crucial form of support for this Initiative.
THE BLACK SEA PUZZLE PIECE However, arguably one of the greatest vulnerabilities in the 3SI region is in the Black Sea basin. The 3SI currently only consists of the EU member states that are located in the three seas region, so it currently excludes Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia. These are three EU membership aspirant countries that enjoy special ties to the
Vice President of the European Commission, Maros Sefcovic attends the inauguration of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Center for Resilience, in Bucharest May 31, 2021. (Getty)
Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal and US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken (R to L) are pictured during a meeting in Kyiv, capital of Ukraine. (Getty)
European Union through their Association Agreements, Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (DCFTA), and visa-free travel regimes and are generally considered to be on their way to eventual EU and event NATO membership. These three countries are also completely exposed to Russian and Chinese influence and remain deeply vulnerable to security threats emanating from Russia in the absence of NATO’s Article V protections and in the presence of Russian military forces on their de jure territories (each has a protracted separatist conflict zone backed by Russia).
In the post-Covid and postTrump West, where deepened transatlantic cooperation and renewed focus on US-European shared democratic ideals seems inevitable, the 3SI carries vast geopolitical importance
Both, the EU and the US acknowledge the importance of bringing more coherence to the Black Sea region. Geopolitically the Black Sea is perhaps more complicated than ever before. EU member states in the East (Bulgaria, Romania) directly border (by land or sea) countries that are dominated by Russia militarily and or politically: Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia. The ports in Russian-annexed Crimea are off-limits to the West under the sanctions against Moscow. Russia itself is essentially cut off from the West thanks to its soured relations with
the West and continuous military buildup in its maritime domain. And Turkey – a major Black Sea state - has gradually become a geopolitical wildcard; it is still a member of NATO but a close ally to Russia and increasingly anti-Western. Many of Ukraine’s valuable assets in the east and in Crimea are paralyzed thanks to Russia. Georgia, in the meantime, presents one of the last significant opportunities for building deep sea ports and connecting Central Asia and the Caucasus region to Europe through new highways and railroads. But there too,
creeping Russian influence in politics has led to a great deal of development paralysis and economic stagnation. The Black Sea basin is now seen as a region of high strategic importance by NATO. Its recent statement on “tailored forward presence” is a good example of this: “Tailored forward presence contributes to the Alliance’s strengthened deterrence and defense posture, to Allies’ situational awareness, interoperability and responsiveness. All of these measures contribute to a peacetime demonstration of NATO’s intent to operate and train together in the Black Sea region without constraint. At all times, NATO deployments are transparent and in line with its international commitments and obligations. In response to Russia’s actions in the Black Sea region in November 2018, NATO decided to increase its presence in the region to further improve situational awareness. Allies have also stepped up their support for Georgia and Ukraine with more training and exercises for maritime forces and coast guards, as well as port visits.”
The challenges in the Black Sea region cannot be fixed just militarily or just diplomatically. The region is in desperate need for Western-led economic development, and including Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova in the 3SI projects would be the most natural way to go about it.
But the challenges in the Black Sea region are diverse and complex. They cannot be fixed just militarily or just diplomatically. The region is in desperate need for Westernled economic development, and including Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova in the 3SI projects would be the most natural way to go about it. The three countries have already affirmed their readiness to join the Initiative. And the 3SI countries seem to be aware of this need. On May 5th, in a joint press
Ukrainian soldiers during Rapid Trident 2019, a multinational military exercise in a training area in western Ukraine, in which more than 3,500 soldiers and 600 military hardware units from the US, Ukraine, the UK, Bulgaria, Georgia, Lithuania, Turkey, Moldova, Canada, Poland, and Romania are taking part. (Getty)
conference, presidents of Estonia and Poland stated that Poland and Estonia need to work more closely with the Eastern Partnership countries of Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. Adding these three countries to 3SI would help bring more coherence not just to the Black Sea region, but also to the greater three seas region itself. It would also provide the US with a dual benefit of taking advantage of this low hanging fruit. By supporting the 3SI, the US and Europe would be supporting not
just deeper and more sustainable European integration, but would also help safeguard the EU and NATO membership-aspirant countries in the Black Sea region from greater Russian and Chinese influence. Thus, the future of the 3SI merits close watching. Will the US take advantage of this promising opportunity? Or will someone else – namely Russia and China – continue to fill these investment and development gaps in Central and Eastern Europe?
Hard Work to Get Back to ‘Normal’
Saudi Arabia Expected to Reach Herd Immunity by August
Motasem Al Felou - Jeddah “It took me a click of a button to book the Covid-19 vaccination for my wife on the Seh-
haty (My Health) App, Saudi Arabia’s digital passport. The time was 4:00 a.m. at the Vaccination Center at the old King Abdul Aziz Airport premises. Although there were many cars
Around %70 of the total population, 24.5 million people, must be vaccinated to reach herd immunity. The MoH posts the numbers of jabs on its social media channels with 120,000 150,000 - shots given daily to the population. It will take the government around a couple of months to reach ‘population immunity.’ HERD IMMUNITY
A medical worker administers a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the first drive-through vaccination center in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on March 4, 2021. (Getty)
in the parking lot, she finished in just 25 minutes and we reached home before 5:00 a.m.,” Ahmed Hasan, a Jeddah-based Egyptian expat, told Majalla, describing his wife’s smooth experience of her Covid-19 vaccination. Ahmed and his wife are among 15 million citizens and expats who have already gotten their novel Coronavirus vaccinations for free. The Saudi Ministry of Health (MoH) covers the treatment of people infected with the widespreading virus as well as the cost of tests and the double shots of the vaccine. Saudi MoH is speeding up the vaccination process nationwide. The government is taking more steps so that life can go back to ‘normal.’ Let us explore what kind of ‘normal’ the Saudi government is planning to reach by August.
‘Herd immunity’ or ‘population immunity’ is what the Kingdom seeks to achieve through its intense vaccination campaign. Nearly 600 vaccination centers are working around the clock to cover as much of the population as possible. People with Covid-19 infections get equal healthcare whether they are citizens, expats or illegal migrants based on a royal decree issued last year. Saudi citizens do not have the priority over expats regarding the vaccination. Those who book first have the priority regardless of their background. Only people over 60 years old, both citizens and expats, have the priority over other demographic segments. During Majalla’s visit to one of the vaccination centers in Jeddah, West of the Kingdom, it was noticeable that more than two-thirds of the people waiting for their turn to get vaccinated were Asian expats. A quick chat with a few of them showed that they work in the service sectors, where vaccination is obligatory. Others told me their companies asked them to get immune before August. Why August? The government will not allow entry to government premises, malls, company offices and
many places without getting the first jab. According to the latest stats, 35,000,000 is the total population of the Kingdom. Saudis form around 60% and the rest are expats. Around 70% of the total population, 24.5 million peo-
All the staff and students of public and private unis, colleges, and vocational schools will go back to classrooms on the 29th of August based on a decision issued by the Ministry of Education (MoE). Only basic education students must wait until the situation is assessed, and MoE issues new decisions.
ple, must be vaccinated to reach herd immunity. The MoH posts the numbers of jabs on its social media channels with 120,000 - 150,000 shots given daily to the population. It will take the government around a couple of months to reach ‘population immunity.’
BACK TO CLASSROOMS All the staff and students of public and private unis, colleges, and vocational schools will go back to classrooms on the 29th of August based on a decision issued by the Ministry of Education (MoE). Only basic education students must wait until the situation is assessed, and MoE issues new decisions. “Herd immunity would allow life to get back to normal. Basically, we cannot call it ‘normal,’ but it is rather the new ‘normal’ as precautionary measures will continue to be taken despite the ‘herd immunity,’” said Read Abed, a Saudi HR professional. “The government is working hard to restore life to the February 2020 levels. It is not easy
Nursing staff wait at the location where the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine (Tozinameran) is being administered as part of a vaccination campaign by the Saudi health ministry in the capital Riyadh on December 17, 2020. (Getty)
Saudi passengers observe a safe distance as they wait their fligts at terminal 5 in the King Fahad International Airport, designated for domestic flights, in the capital Riyadh on May 31, 2020, after authorities lifted the ban on flights within the country. (Getty)
to get there. The pandemic has turned the world upside down and we are part of that world. The economy is picking up. This is good. I am afraid we might wait longer until we remove masks and interact freely with each other without physical distancing,” he added.
THE NEW NORMAL In Saudi Arabia there is no distinct definition for the new normal on which everyone agrees. Does it mean wearing the mask all the time you are outside home? Does it mean that physical distancing will continue or that we will be afraid of hugging each other despite the soothing feeling of hugging and touching hands? Alaa Fuad is a real estate broker. He believes he will not hug or cheek-kiss his friends for the rest of his life. He told Majalla: “I cannot imagine myself shaking hands with anyone. Covid-19 has woken me up. It is normal for me now to greet friends whom I did not see for months just by touching arms or even without.
I really appreciate how most Asian peoples greeted each other before the pandemic.” Not everyone will agree with Alaa. However, the fact that nobody can predict the end of the pandemic even after herd immunity is reached will make it harder for people to greet each other the way they did before March 2020. Social distancing is making it harder for malls, shops, restaurants and entertainment venues to accommodate people according to the normal capacity. Do future investors have to take social distancing into consideration when designing their shops or offices? “It is really confusing. Nobody can predict even the near future. Travelling is not as enjoyable as it used to be not too long ago. I really miss wedding and graduation parties. Despite all that, I am optimistic that once herd immunity is achieved, we will have more freedom and be close to what we used to call ‘normal,’” concluded Dina, a 25-year-old private sector employee.
Women in India Come Together to Fight COVID- 19 Despite their Incessant Marginalization, Women Lead Crisis in India Akanksha Khullar India’s history contains several examples of women rising in unison not just to advocate for gender issues but also to spearhead some of the most significant socio-
economic movements within the country. Whether we talk about the Chipko movement, the naked protests of Manipur’s mothers, or the Gulabi gang, all form an integral part of the evolution of the women’s movement in India. But despite these efforts, women have not been
successful in liberating themselves from the deeply ingrained patriarchal norms and cultural values that have resulted in their incessant marginalization within the Indian society. As such, agency continues to be implicitly portrayed as male while women remain victimized and are often recognized as passive members of society. Yet, it is these very women that have once again come together and are in fact, racing against time to help the nation avert the crisis that has been brought on by the outburst of the COVID-19 pandemic in India. It is time to recognize the efforts of these unseen heroes of the crisis and acknowledge the critical roles that they play in the development as well as rejuvenation of Indian society.
HEALTHCARE AND FRONTLINE WORKERS
An Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) health worker checks the body temperature of a woman before collecting a sample to test for the Covid-19 coronavirus, at Bangalore, India, on May 31, 2021. (Getty Images)
In India, the public healthcare system has been groaning under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the wave of infections continues to sweep throughout the country, it is the healthcare workers who have been deployed as the first line of defense in the battle against the crisis. A vast majority — nearly 83 percent — of these frontline workers are female nurses who have consistently been putting their lives at risk. In doing so, they have confronted grave challenges not only making them more vulnerable to contracting the deadly virus but making their personal lives more miserable, often obstructing them from carrying out their duties efficiently. These problems include shortages of personal protective equipment, lack of pay, and little recognition. In addition, their hours have increased dramatically, further inflicting high frequencies of stress, burnout, and depression upon them. The situation is even starker in rural areas, where health facilities are scant and medical professionals can be hard to find. In these areas, women accounting for 1 million Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers are the core providers of health care and medical services. Consequently, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, ASHA workers — who have traditionally worked with maternal and child health — saw their duties and work hours stretch even further with the constant tracking, testing, and monitoring of COVID-19 patients across villages and cities; offering advice on the virus; recording all village arrivals and quarantining them; and simultaneously keeping up with their previous duties of caring for newborns and pregnant ladies.
Although India is far from attaining gender equity in politics, women leaders along with the frontline healthcare workers have shouldered the responsibility to stay ahead in the battle against the COVID19- crisis and contain the pandemic by constantly adapting to the changing situation on the ground and responding to the specific need of their communities. These ASHA workers have relentlessly discharged their responsibilities despite facing staunch opposition from their families for the quality and amount of work during the pandemic, and they have often been confronted with physical violence or abuse during their home-to-home surveys. Infection rates have also been rising among ASHA workers predominantly due to lack of protective gear for their high-risk work. According to the government, at least 18 ASHA workers had died fighting COVID-19 as of last September but these figures merely represent a tip of the iceberg, as there are no definite estimates on the number of ASHA workers infected during the latest destructive surge.
SELF-HELP GROUPS Amid the pandemic and its devastating consequences, thousands of Self-Help Groups (SHGs) dominated by women have emerged as effective frontline responders in India’s fight against the coronavirus. These SHGs have not only contributed toward holistically addressing the social and economic needs of people at the community level but have also consolidated their efforts to work on issues like mask usage, quarantining, and social distancing. As part of the SHGs, nearly 68 million women have been working furiously to make up for the shortages of masks, running community kitchens, helping curb rumors and misinformation, delivering essential sup-
plies, and more. As of April 2020, more than 19 million masks had been produced by some 20,000 SHGs across 27 Indian states along with over 100,00 liters of sanitizer and 50,000 liters of hand soap. In addition, to feed the poor and the vulnerable, SHGs set up over 10,000 community kitchens. The footprints and the effectiveness of response strategies that have been put in place by the SHGs can be felt across various Indian states. For instance, the Kudum-
The situation is even starker in rural areas, where health facilities are scant and medical professionals can be hard to find. In these areas, women accounting for 1 million Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers are the core providers of health care and medical services.-
bashree in Kerala is helping disseminate urgent and authentic information regarding COVID-19 by systematically utilizing their vast network of WhatsApp groups. They have also set up 1,300 kitchens across the state to overcome food shortages. Similarly, in Odisha, femaleled SHGs have produced over 1 million cotton masks for police as well as for health workers. In Jharkhand, where the rate of poverty is extremely high, SHGs have been helping district administrations identify pockets of hunger and starvation, and are responsible for delivering rations to under-privileged families. In several states, SHG members are also working as providers of banking solutions and pension services, thus emerging as a vital source for bridging the gap between remote communities and their access to credits coming in from direct benefit transfers. Thus, SHGs in India have not remained as mere beneficiaries of COVID-19 schemes but have instead transformed their role into chief architects of the pandemic response strategy and have played an important role in reaching out to the poor.
POLITICAL LEADERSHIP Although India is far from attaining gender equity in politics, women leaders along with the frontline healthcare workers have shouldered the responsibility to stay ahead in the battle against the COVID-19 crisis and con-
A health worker inoculates a woman with a dose of the Covishield vaccine against the Covid19- coronavirus, at a vaccination center in Mumbai on May ,29 2021. ( Getty Images)
Volunteers, Akshaya (R), 22, a law student, and Esther Mary, 41, a lecturer, carry the body of a person who died from the coronavirus disease (COVID19-) for burial at a cemetery in Bengaluru, India, May 2021 ,18. (Reuters)
tain the pandemic by constantly adapting to the changing situation on the ground and responding to the specific need of their communities. These women leaders have been organizing sanitation drives, monitoring surveillance activities, conducting contact tracing and ration distribution, and more, thus bringing to light an alternate style of leadership — one that is cooperative, empathetic, and relies on transparent communication. Women leaders, particularly at the grassroots level have also been collaborating with other women organizations and young women volunteers to provide assistance in meeting the shortage of masks, delivery of sanitary napkins, spreading awareness about the virus, among other things. Examples of such women politicians include Sarpanch (a village-level leader who liaises between the government and the community) Vijanandbhai from Gujarat, who used Digi Pay to help make sure that daily wage laborers were able to receive cash transfers from the government’s COVID-19 relief plans. Pinky Bharat, the Zilla Parishad chairperson in Bihar, mobilized local resources “to run community kitchens, deliver essential supplies and manage quarantine centres.” Sarpanch Daljit Kaur from Punjab and other women leaders used WhatsApp groups and social media to spread information and awareness about COVID-19 and essential supplies directly with local communities. Besides these handful of instances there are several
other women politicians that are setting a positive example of effective leadership to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Their rigorous containment work has further helped these political leaders build credibility and respect among the residents of the community that they are responsible for governing.
CONCLUSION Extrapolating from these facts, it would not be a stretch to say that women in India — in varied forms and both individually and collectively — are working fanatically on the frontlines to rein in an ever-worsening pandemic. Yet, despite their significant contribution toward the management of the crisis, women continue to remain invisible in both the global as well as the national discourse on women’s leadership in the COVID-19 crisis. While we are still trying to grasp the nature and diverse effects of the on-going pandemic, we need to celebrate and acknowledge the contributions of these women in tackling the epidemic. We also need to include the success of women’s leadership, their achievement, needs, and concerns in our debates and policymaking processes. Last but not the least, we must continue to strengthen them and provide them with the much-needed economic and social empowerment. This article was originally published on The Diplomat.
Competition Can Be Good for the Developing World Adding Infrastructural Muscle to Development Support Branko Milanovic The United States and China are locked in a contest for influence over the rest of the world. The new great-power competition looks in this sense very much like the one that took place during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.
But back then, the United States had a compelling economic and political model to offer developing countries. Today, China has seized the initiative by offering practical investments in tangible projects, free of political interference. The United States can compete on this field. But in order to do so, it needs a new model—one that rests
not on the pieties of the past or on soft demands for institutional change but on a willingness to invest concretely, as China has done, in the well-being of those in developing nations.
THE CONSENSUS OF THE PAST
US America and China flags on chess king on a chessboard. (Getty)
The approach that the United States followed during the Cold War can be broadly divided into two phases. During the first phase, just after the end of World War II, the United States concentrated its efforts on rebuilding the economies of Western Europe, Japan, and South Korea through direct aid and open markets. Washington sought to create in these countries an affluent middle class, on the assumption that such a demographic would be disinclined to vote for communist parties that challenged the private ownership of capital. This postwar period is associated with the Marshall Plan and is often considered the high-water mark of American hegemonic benevolence. The American record during the second phase of the Cold War is much more checkered. In the 1960s, during the decolonization of much of the developing world, Washington at times supported regimes that were socially reactionary and uninterested in economic development, such as those in Congo, pre-revolutionary Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and South Vietnam. But at other times, it urged land reform and broadly based economic growth, for instance in Colombia, South Korea, and Taiwan. Gradually, a consistent Western view of economic development emerged—one based on modernization theory, which held that by creating a strong middle class, economic development would lead to democracy. During the Kennedy administration and throughout the 1960s and the 1970s, U.S. policy toward less developed countries was heavily influenced by a book by the economist W. W. Rostow entitled The Stages of Economic Growth (revealingly subtitled A Non-Communist Manifesto). Rostow argued that countries could “take off” into sustainable, “modern” economic growth only if they increased and then productively invested their savings (rather than allowing elites to squander those savings on luxury consumption). Economic growth was central to Rostow’s vision. To the extent that such growth would lead to inequality, American policymakers pointed to the work of the economist and statistician
The United States had a compelling economic and political model to offer developing countries. Today, China has seized the initiative by offering practical investments in tangible projects, free of political interference. Simon Kuznets. Kuznets argued that although inequality might increase during the early stages of development, it would change course and move downward as the population became more educated and the gap in wages between high-skilled and lowskilled workers diminished. U.S. development advice to many countries during the mid– to late–Cold War period combined these two relatively simple but powerful theories of growth and distribution: countries should focus on economic growth, and growth would eventually take care of inequality. Higher and more equally distributed incomes would lead citizens to demand democracy. The same conditions would make democracy sustainable. Notably, the United States did not seek to impose democracy by insisting on institutional change before the economic conditions were ripe. Rather, democratization was to be reached indirectly, through economic growth and the fairer distribution of resources. The model worked most clearly in South Korea and Taiwan but also in Botswana, Costa Rica, Mauritius, and southern European countries such as Portugal and Spain. Nonetheless, the 1980s saw the advent of a neoliberal economics that overtook this model. The new one called for reducing the role of the state and opening institutions and the “investment climate” to the private sector. Growth was supposed to follow. The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Eastern bloc hastened the turn toward neoliberalism. U.S. advisers and the international organizations in which Washington played a leading role, such as the World Bank and other development banks, ceased to stress growth and redistribution. Instead, they promoted institutional reforms. When countries faced balance-of-payment crises, development banks provided loans that were
contingent on “structural adjustment”: governments were expected to reduce spending, lower taxes, deregulate, and privatize. These policies, together known as the Washington consensus, reflected ideological developments within rich countries themselves during the 1980s and 1990s. U.S. President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher deemphasized the role of the state as a matter of principle. Moreover, as the competition between the Soviet Union and the United States waned and ended, neither the public nor the political class sustained much interest in the fate of developing countries. There was no longer any pressing need to convince other countries of the superiority of American arrangements, which now seemed obvious. The United States could dispense with special efforts to woo developing countries and no longer even needed to pay much attention to them. The effects of the neoliberal model are difficult to disentangle from those of globalization, but the record of both together was mixed. China obviously benefited a lot, but its domestic policy approach was often at the very opposite end of what neoliberalism advocated. India, after 1991 and even more recently under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, came closer to following neoliberal recommendations. But for many countries in Africa, the 1990s and the first decade of the twentyfirst century were marked by low, often negative per capita growth that made them fall even further behind the rest of the world than before.
LESS HECTORING, MORE MONEY The rise of China and the sudden Western need to counter its influence have laid bare an uncomfortable fact: the United States and the European Union no longer have a clear philosophy of development with implementable lessons to offer other countries. If a minister of a poor country were to ask American diplomats or economists for advice about development, he or she would likely be given a rather tedious lecture about human rights, fighting corruption, freedom of the press, and the like. These are laudable objectives. But they require a long-term institutional transformation that can
be brought about only through consistent policies pursued over a period of several decades. Such advice does not address the pressing concerns of most low- and middle-income countries, such as jump-starting economic growth in remote regions, finding jobs for graduating students, or reducing crime driven by economic destitution. Rather, the advice is inapplicable to conditions on the ground, takes a long time to bear fruit, and does not come with funds. Most governments of developing countries would probably prefer fewer lectures and more money. Fortunately for the United States, China doesn’t have coherent or consistent precepts to offer, either. China owes its own economic rise not to wellthought-out policies that Beijing might “package” into a toolkit to give to developing countries. Rather, the country followed a heuristic path to growth, groping through a process of trial and error and gradually identifying and implementing the good policies and weeding out the bad ones. This process took place under very special conditions that may be unique to China: decentralized regional
In this photograph taken on February ,24 2020 laborers work at a construction site on reclaimed land, part of a Chinese-funded project for Port City, in Colombo. (Getty)
Not surprisingly, in its dealings with less developed countries, China stresses infrastructure development. Beijing has offered this emphasis with accompanying cash through its Belt and Road Initiative, a program of loans and investments for infrastructure development, and through the recently founded Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which China dominates.
governments were free to experiment, knowing that a very centralized party would ultimately choose what worked and reward the successful policymakers. Infrastructure development emerged from this crucible as one of the most successful Chinese policies. In the early 2000s, China had no highspeed rail system. Now it has by far the largest in the world, with more than 24,850 miles of track. Freight trains between China and Europe (and all other transit destinations, including Kazakhstan and Russia) have notched up annual increases of around 70 percent. The recent blockage of the Suez Canal underlined the importance of these links. Not surprisingly, in its dealings with less developed countries, China stresses infrastructure development. Beijing has offered this emphasis with accompanying cash through its Belt and Road Initiative, a program of loans and investments for infrastructure development, and through the recently founded Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which China dominates. Less developed countries appreciate that China
offers them something tangible that promises economic betterment both immediately and in the future. Furthermore, as an explicit matter of policy, China avoids entanglement in recipient countries’ domestic politics. Many such governments prefer China’s approach to that of the United States— first, because it does not question their political systems, and second, because it promises to yield higher economic growth. Beijing thus delivers more money and less hectoring than Washington does.
SILVER LININGS If Western countries and the United States, in particular, plan to compete with China in the developing world, they must move away from an approach based on arguing for quixotic institutional reforms while denigrating the role of the state in economic development. Instead, the United States needs to fashion a more appealing approach that delivers tangible goods to the populations of developing nations. Some of these goods could take the form of old-fashioned dams, electric grids (less than one-half of the African population has access to power), water and sewage systems, and even productive investment in processing or
manufacturing. Other investments could support education, health, urban development, wireless networks, or direct cash transfers to eligible populations. What is essential is that U.S. projects result in visible improvements in the daily lives of ordinary citizens. Following the old dictum that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, U.S. President Joe Biden recently floated the idea that American companies could lead an international infrastructure
Many such governments prefer China’s approach to that of the United States—first, because it does not question their political systems, and second, because it promises to yield higher economic growth.
development effort in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The administration has yet to formulate an accompanying policy, but if the suggestion is for the United States to return to “brick and mortar,” or rather “dock, road, rail, and WiFi,” investments, it is a sound one. The United States cannot effectively compete with China in all areas, but there are many in which it has the technological edge or in which its engineering qualities are superior. As happened in the 1980s, domestic and international developments are likely to proceed in parallel. Many of the domestic policies that Biden and his treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, have recently announced on infrastructure, corporate taxes, public education, child development, and the like have clearly broken with the economic policies that reigned supreme over the last 40 years. These shifts presage a change in the focus of U.S. policies regarding international development. If China and the United States really do begin competing in earnest to build the world’s infrastructure, countries that great powers have long neglected will suddenly acquire much greater
Seneglese and Chinese workers observe a ceremony at the national theater construction site financed by China on February 2009 ,14 in Dakar, during a visit by Chinese president Hu Jintao and Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade. (Getty)
Large machines load containers onto trains at the ChinaKazakhstan logistics base in Lianyungang, east China›s Jiangsu province, April 2021 ,8. In the first quarter of the Yangtze River Delta, China-Europe freight trains increased %70.2 year on year. (Getty)
influence. Many that once played the United States and the Soviet Union against each other would do the same with the United States and China. From a global perspective, the empowerment of these countries should not be considered a bad outcome. On the contrary, if the United States and China compete for the support of poor countries, those countries will likely get more resources, which should boost their growth and help reduce global poverty. And even though a cold war between China and the United States would be an unfortunate geopolitical event, it could contain a silver lining if it were to accelerate economic growth in African countries that are not only the poorest in the world but are also experiencing high population growth. Competition between China and the United States in Africa could play a role akin to the one that competition between capitalism and communism played in twentieth-century Asia. But first, the West must think seriously about how its active government policies can accelerate the development of poor countries. The United States should abandon its current approach, which is based on the “soft” development of institutions
The rise of China and the sudden Western need to counter its influence have laid bare an uncomfortable fact: the United States and the European Union no longer have a clear philosophy of development with implementable lessons to offer other countries. and civic society, in favor of a “hard” approach, whose success would be measured by how quickly and directly it affects people’s material standard of living. This article was originally published on ForeignAffairs.com.
Egypt: COVID-19 Updates Between 3rd Wave of the Pandemic and Appearance of Black Fungus Salma Adham
since April 26, 2021. With the beginning of March, and following up From 3 January 2020 to 1 June 2021, there have with the holy month of Ramadan, Egypt witbeen 262,650 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nessed an increase in the cases of COVID-19 with 15,096 deaths in Egypt. As of 29 May 2021, which made the government impose restrica total of 2,586,274 vaccine doses have been ad- tions again to curb the spread of the virus. Moministered, according to the World Health Or- stafa Madbouli, the Egyptian prime minister said in a televised news conference that Egypt ganization (WHO). In the first days of June, Egypt’s reported coro- was in the grip of the third wave of the pannavirus cases fell below 1,000 for the first time demic, urging people to follow the precautions
and register for vaccination. Despite the government’s call and banning public gatherings during Ramadan, most people did not take the situation as seriously as they did before and numbers increased due to family and friends’ gatherings. Authorities say lack of awareness was probably also because the media itself did not highlight the issue enough and spread awareness compared to the beginning of the pandemic. The ongoing increase in the confirmed cases made the government announced a partial shutdown of malls and restaurants from 9 pm until May 21 and call off festivities for the Muslim holidays of Eid al-Fitr. “You have a responsibility not just for yourself but also your family, we are in a critical stage,” Madbouly said.
An Egyptian medical worker administers help people to receiving anOxford-AstraZeneca Covid19- vaccine on March 2021 ,4 at Qattameya’s medical center in Cairo on the first day of vaccination in Egypt. (Getty)
Egypt’s vaccination campaign began in January by vaccinating medical staff, people over the age of 65, and those with chronic illnesses. Then registration was opened to all. The Egyptian Ministry of Health has opened 40 centers across the country to receive vaccines and continued to increase the number to 400 centers till date. On the 28th of February, the Ministry of Health launched a website to register citizens’ requests for vaccinations, and the process of vaccinating them has already begun on the 4th of March. Egypt is currently using China’s Sinopharma vaccine and the UK’s AstraZeneca vaccine. The Ministry of Health announced that it will soon begin locally producing Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s Sinovac vaccines, and the country will soon receive the raw materials to manufacture China’s Sinovac vaccine, under an agreement signed between VACSERA and the Chinese company. The Egyptian Ministry of Health is working to carry out awareness campaigns for citizens in all governorates, within the framework of the ministry’s role to spread health awareness among citizens, of the precautionary and preventive measures for the Coronavirus. Dr. Hala Zayed, Minister of Health and Population, announced that the ministry’s community communication teams provided health awareness
Egypt’s vaccination campaign began in January by vaccinating medical staff, people over the age of 65, and those with chronic illnesses. Then registration was opened to all. The Egyptian Ministry of Health has opened 40 centers across the country to receive vaccines and continued to increase the number to 400 centers till date. to 1.5 million citizens in 10 governorates nationwide, from April and until May. Dr. Zayed also stated that there was provision of home vaccination services for citizens who suffer from diseases that make them unable to move, within the framework of the state’s plan to curb the Coronavirus and to ensure the public health of citizens. On the other hand, the National Council for Women, headed by Dr. Maya Morsi, has collaborated with the Minister of Health and Population during the last period that witnessed the launch of the Council’s major awareness initiative to educate women about the need to take the COVID-19 vaccination, especially for the elderly, in addition to assisting women in registering their data to obtain the vaccination on the Ministry of Health website. Dr. Morsi also confirmed that since the initiative started on May 17, 2021 nearly one million individuals (women and men) have been contacted through a door-to-door campaign launched by the council in 27 governorates nationwide, through inquiries received by hotline 15115, and the council’s branches in the governorates.
THE BLACK FUNGUS The black fungus or the Mucormycosis disease has killed more than 300 people and infected more than 12,000 in India as the country’s health system continues to tackle COVID-19.
There are calls by India’s health authorities to announce it as an epidemic. But what is this disease and what is the relation between it and the COVID-19? Mucormycosis (sometimes called zygomycosis) is a serious but rare fungal infection caused by a group of molds called mucormycetes. These fun-
Since the National Council for Women’s initiative started on May 2021 ,17 nearly one million individuals (women and men) have been contacted through a door-to-door campaign launched by the council in 27 governorates nationwide, through inquiries received by hotline 15115, and the council’s branches in the governorates.
gi live throughout the environment, particularly in soil and in decaying organic matter, such as leaves, compost piles, or rotten wood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There are different types of mucormycosis, including rhinocerebral (sinus and brain), pulmonary (lung), gastrointestinal, and cutaneous (skin) mucormycosis. People get mucormycosis by coming in contact with the fungal spores in the environment. For example, the lung or sinus forms of the infection can occur after someone breathes in spores. These forms of mucormycosis usually occur in people who have health problems or take medicines that lower the body’s ability to fight germs and sickness. The black fungus can also develop on the skin after the fungus enters the skin through a cut, scrape, burn or any type of skin trauma. Symptoms include respiratory-related symptoms include cough, fever, headache, chest pain, nasal or sinus congestion, pain and pressure around the eyes or blurred or double vision and pain shortness of breath. Doctors can treat the infection by administering antifungal medication or performing surgery to remove the affected area. If left untreated, mucormycosis can be fatal, with a mortality rate of 54%, according to (CDC).
(L to R) Egyptian Health Minister Hala Zayed gives a press conference, accompanied by doctor Abdelmouim Selem and medical staff member Ahmed Hemdan, in a tent set up outside the Abou Khalifa hospital, in Ismailia, Egypt, on January 2021 ,24. (Getty)
A lab technician works at the Eva Pharma facility in the Egyptian capital’s twin city of Giza on July ,12 2020. - Egyptian pharmaceutical firm Eva Pharma has been producing Remdsivir, a medicine for coronavirus patients. (Getty)
In India, experts said that the infections with the black fungus occurred because of a combination of factors. These factors might include contaminated oxygen equipment and the use of steroid drugs to treat certain COVID-19 patients. Hossam Hosni, the head of the scientific committee to combat the Coronavirus at the Egyptian Ministry of Health, said on Monday at the press conference, regarding the developments of Corona in Egypt, and methods for spotting the black fungus, that Egypt does not have many cases infected with the black fungus disease, but there are cases that “do not exceed the fingers of the hand.” “There is a new change in the treatment protocol for Corona patients, which has nothing to do with the black fungus,” Hosni added.
Despite the government’s call and banning public gatherings during Ramadan, most people did not take the situation as seriously as they did before and numbers increased due to family and friends’ gatherings.
all preventive and precautionary measures related to dealing with the Coronavirus in all public places, especially those that witness noticeable RECENT GOVERNMENT ACTION overcrowding. On the 30th of May, the Egyptian Prime Min- The committee also agreed to continue banning ister, announced returning to work on summer the holding of birthdays, stressing the prevention dates concerning the opening and closing of of the establishment of mourning and wedding shops, malls, cafes, cafes, and restaurants, pre- pavilions, and the obligation to hold weddings in determined by the decisions of the Ministers of open places only. Local Development, Tourism and Antiquities, Madbouly also indicated that the ministry expect provided that these dates start to be implemented two million doses to arrive in the first half of next June from both Sinovac and Sino Pharm, other as of June 1, 2021. Confirming that a fine will be applied to facilities than 1.9 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine that violate these dates, it was also stressed that within the Kovacs agreement.
Dare to Seek Help
Dispelling Misconceptions on Mental Health in the Arab World Amany M. Salem Following the news 24/7 in the recent decades could be enough for some people in the Arab world to accumulate negative emotions which, if not well-handled, may affect their everyday life. Other people may find career challenges and everyday competition getting on their nerves and ultimately leading to a burnout. Some people may suffer due to family problems and unresolved conflicts with partners. More examples can be added to make a long list of people who have
hard times with resulting psychological problems. However, many of them dare not seek help or reach out to the professionals who are best qualified to assist them to lead better lives. Many psycho-education projects were launched in the last few years across social media platforms by Arab and Egyptian professionals to raise awareness of psychological disorders and the various means of diagnosis and treatment in order to encourage people to take a step and seek help.
Young Muslim woman at a counselling session. (Getty)
Nevertheless, these efforts have fallen short of completely breaking the taboo and eliminating the stigma of visiting a psychotherapist. In an attempt to remove part of the stigma associated with mental illness and seeking therapy, Majalla spoke to two experts of psychiatry who dispelled many misconceptions surrounding their specialization and drew our attention to major problems facing people who are in dire need of a specialized help. “Although still not enough, awareness has been getting better recently, particularly in the younger generations and even teenagers due to their access to information on social media platforms such as YouTube videos,” Ahmed Abdelkarim, MD, PhD, Lecturer in Psychiatry at Alexandria University, told Majalla, adding that at least more people are visiting specialists for assessment and to see if they have any problems. Agreeing that more awareness campaigns are still required, Dr. Hala Elsaid Sayyah told Majalla, “There is huge misinformation about mental and psychological illness. Most people still think that any person with a neurotic disorder (whether anxiety, OCD, panic or depression) is suffering because he is weak. Patients who suffer psychotic disorders are falsely considered bewitched or affected by bad envy. Some people even push patients to seek help from perilous sources.” Dr. Sayyah argued that schools and universities do not focus on the importance of mental health and the development of resilience in face of life challenges and difficulties. She lists problemsolving, social interactions, crisis management, and interrelationship management as essential life skills to be taught to new generations to address mental health problems at their root.
ROLE OF MASS MEDIA Just the mere examples of a mentally suffering person in a media production confronted with “Sit down on the lounger and tell me your life story” or “Take this sedative and you’ll be ok” – These are examples of the stereotypical therapy session as seen in the media which experts believe is one of the main hindrances to people seeking help, in addition to the shame surrounding the character represented on the screen. For example, patients in the media are often stigmatized as losers and
Many psycho-education projects were launched in the last few years across social media platforms by Arab and Egyptian professionals to raise awareness of psychological disorders and the various means of diagnosis and treatment in order to encourage people to take a step and seek help. as sources of family shame. “We may spend years of hard work to build awareness of mental illness and therapy, but a single media production, a movie or a TV series that lacks correct information can ruin all our efforts by making fun of people with a mental disorder,” Dr. Sayyah said. To counter widespread misconceptions, Dr. Abdelkarim explains the different kinds of mental problems and therapies engaged in the process, “Origins of mental illness can be explained according to a biopsychosocial model which means that three factors can play a role in developing the disorder: biological (neurotransmitters); psychological (upbringing, environment, relationships); and, sociological (present conditions).” As for treatment, he reveals that there are two types of treatment – medicinal and non-medicinal. Non-medicinal types include talk therapy, play, dance or reading therapy, etc. “Medicinal therapy is also misrepresented as being only sedatives, which is only one category of medication and is not always prescribed. There are other categories such as antidepressants, mood stabilizers and antipsychotics, and these are non-addictive,” he confirmed.
FINANCIAL BURDENS In addition to the stigma, another problem may prevent people from seeking professional help in
the Arab world, namely, the expensive fees required for follow up sessions which some people might see as overrated or unjustified. Dr. Abdelkarim explains, “It is related to the health system as a whole, not just psychiatry. Private medical services are not subsidized and not included in the health care system. A psychotherapy session which extends from 45 to 50 minutes is expensive because it lasts for a longer time than ordinary visits to doctors in other specializations.” Dr. Abdelkarim thinks that another reason is that the psychotherapy training required for doctors in order to be accredited by foreign entities is also expensive. He suggests that some answers to this problem already exist though other solutions are still incomplete. “In addition to public and university hospitals whose professionals are well-qualified and provide treatment for affordable fees, some organizations and agencies are assisting people who cannot afford therapy. Also, some private clinics provide discounts for people-in-need after conducting an intake interview and assessment.” However, he stresses that “this does not apply only to the Arab world as psychotherapy is also expensive all over the world compared to other sionals providing such kind of help is much less specializations because the number of profes- than the number of the clients demanding it.”
“We may spend years of hard work to build awareness of mental illness and therapy, but a single media production, a movie or a TV series that lacks correct information can ruin all our efforts by making fun of people with a mental disorder.”
BEFORE SEEKING HELP Another major misconception in the Arab world surrounding the first step of therapy is the question of whom should we ask for help? Many confusing titles and specializations are crossing our paths to the therapy session, all with promises to help better people’s lives regardless of the type of their problems. “Many professionals introduce themselves as capable of helping people with mental problems, but remarkably they are not psychiatrists or psychologists, some are life coaches, or human development specialists,” said Dr. Sayyah. She explains that a psychiatrist is the only professional who is capable of diagnosing, treating and prescribing medication for a mental disorder,
A still from the Egyptian film “Aasef ala el-iz’ag” or Sorry to Distrub (2008) starring Dalal Abdel-Aziz (L) and Ahmed Helmi (R), in which Hassan, an aviation engineer, struggles with loneliness and depression while trying to design .his exceptional project
Another major misconception in the Arab world surrounding the first step of therapy is the question of whom should we ask for help? Many confusing titles and specializations are crossing our paths to the therapy session. a life coach are not supposed to be mentally ill, otherwise the coaching will not be fruitful. Asked when a person needs to think of visiting a therapist, Dr. Sayyah replied, “Consider a visit when you face a psychological stress, or have low appetite, low energy or excess energy, inability to sleep or excess sleeping, fluctuating mood, remarkable difficulty in dealing with people, a decline in job or learning performance, and a preference for isolation, all with no diagnosis of any physical disorder.”
PITFALLS OF ONLINE SUPPORT GROUPS as well as setting a therapy plan. Some psychiatrists complete therapy training such as dynamic, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), assertive community treatment (ACT), after which they are qualified to hold specialized therapy sessions for their clients along with prescribing medication. She confirms, “Importantly, such trained psychiatrists are peer-supervised to ensure they achieve progress in treating their clients.” In a similar way, a clinical psychologist is another professional who is trained in all or some of the previously mentioned modalities of therapy and is also supervised by their peers. Psychologists just cannot prescribe medication for the clients. In Sayyah’s view “the problem is that patients go to the wrong professional. Some might go to a life coach in part to escape the stigma of mental illness. Consequently, they spend more money on useless sessions because the root causes have not been addressed.” Instead, she believes clients of
As people spend more time online at social media platforms, there seems to be a rising tendency to open up their feelings and seek help at a time of vulnerability. Hence many support groups appeared across various platforms, gathering people who are not necessarily specialists. “I have a deep reservation about support groups on social media platforms,” says Dr. Abdelkarim as he sees “a big issue of privacy, because we don’t know who is on the other side talking to us.” Nevertheless, he sees no harm in groups and initiatives posting information, general knowledge and awareness. But he still believes that people who post their life problems in the open cyberspace asking for advice or complaining about their problems with no guaranteed privacy are at risk for major problems. “Definitely, these are not alternatives for a professional and real life support,” Dr. Abdelkarim concluded.
A Weekly Political News Magazine
Issue 1855- June- 04/06/2021
‘Cruella’ is Dazzling Fun www.majalla.com
The Sound of ‘Conscious’ Rap Hip-Hop Resurfaces in India-Administered Kashmir Muheet Ul Islam They may look like any other group of young men chilling out on a river bank. But these young men in a huddle are scripting the revival of rap music in Indian-administered Kashmir. The narrow park along the Jhelum River in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, serves as a meeting place for five young musicians, all aged below 30, as they discuss the finer details to make their songs more attractive before releasing them on streaming platforms like YouTube and Amazon Music. On a sunny Wednesday afternoon, the discussion was
called by a team of two rappers, Tufail Nazir and Syed Arslan, so that they can ask for final comments on their upcoming rap, slated for release this month. As the duo drops its lyrics, one after another, the fellow artists pay attention to the words until the demonstration is over. The fellow musicians seem delighted with the lines and declare the forthcoming rap from the duo, known as SOS (Straight Outta Srinagar), to be an imminent hit. “These meetings have now been taking place for one year,” said 26-year-old rapper Ahmer Javaid as we began our conversation. “Our work is getting noticed once again as more and more people are listening to our music with each passing day,” he added after a brief pause.
RISE, FALL, AND REPLACEMENT
The group of rappers who spoke to The Diplomat. Left to right: Arif Farooq, Ahmer Javaid, Tufail Nazir, Syed Arslan, and SXR. (TNS)
Hip-hop music, including rap, traces its origins to the United States of America, but the genre has made its way to the scenic territory lying in the foothills of Himalayas. Rap emerged in Kashmir following the 2010 uprising triggered by the killing of three people by Indian army in a staged gunfight. People came out on the streets and started antiIndia protests. Over hundred unarmed protesters, mostly teenagers, were killed in police and paramilitary retaliation. To vent his frustration and anger, the then charismatic teenager Roushan Illahi, aka MC Kash, released an English rap I-Protest (Remembrance) for a global audience. The lyrics of the song, “I protest for my brother who is dead / I protest against the bullet in his head. I protest I’ll throw stones and never run / I protest until my freedom has come,” went viral. People passed on the song to their friends, relatives, and acquaintances via Bluetooth or through pen drives. The rap went on to become the anthem for thousands of people who had come out on streets to protest against the continuous civilian killings of that year. Hip-hop, driven by politics and conflict, challenged India’s claims in Kashmir. The back-to-back hits by MC Kash inspired several youngsters like SXR, Haze Kay, UTB, and Renegade to release their own songs. They too were motivated by the decades-old Kashmir conflict. The rage artists who highlighted the Kashmir conflict earned name and fame for themselves in the world of hip-hop – at least in Kashmir. The political raps shook the then-government of the disputed territory, claimed by India and Pakistan. To curb the growing narrative — which India calls seditious — Jammu and Kashmir police swung into action, and they started tightening the noose of Kashmiri rap artists. The rappers continued to produce songs, but the pressure from the Indian government, financial constraints, and a lack of opportunity took a toll. As a result, most of the artists moved to other places to earn their livelihood in some other fields. “People usually believe that Kashmiri rappers did not produce songs after 2013 or 2014 but the reality is that some of the rappers kept on producing music till 2016 and then it disappeared slowly,” Javaid told The Diplomat. The earlier “conscious rap,” as Javaid put it, was replaced by music produced by newcomers who in a predominantly religious society introduced invective lyrics in their songs. The gangsta-style-rap generated thousands of hits and was mainly consumed by teenagers. “People listened to other hip-hop because I believe they were fedup with political content and at the same time those songs served as the source of entertainment to them,” he said, adding that people are still consuming such music. But at the same time, they now are looking for conscious rap after a healthy gap.
Hip-hop music, including rap, traces its origins to the United States of America, but the genre has made its way to the scenic territory lying in the foothills of Himalayas. Rap emerged in Kashmir following the 2010 uprising triggered by the killing of three people by Indian army in a staged gunfight. RESURRECTION OF “CONSCIOUS” HIP-HOP The silence of “conscious” rap in Kashmir ended in the summer of 2019 when a lesser known rapper, spotted in an imperial-style-beard, featured in the album “Little Kid Big Dreams,” produced by Delhi-based independent record label, Azadi Records. The album of seven songs portrayed the actual situation in Kashmir and was released shortly after the Bharatiya Janata Party government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, stripped Jammu and Kashmir government of its semi-autonomous status and downgraded the Muslim majority region into two federally-controlled territories on August 5, 2019. “People labeled ‘Little Kid Big Dreams’ as a political rap album, and to be honest I have objections with such tagging. Any song which is driven by reality should be called conscious song,” Javaid said, adding that the word “politics” defames the work of people like him. “One should understand that we are not human rights activists but musicians with zero political affiliation,” he added. “Elaan,” one of the songs from Little Kid Big Dreams, in which Javaid is seen donning a white prison uniform with a hanging noose tied to his neck, got maximum attention. “When I returned to Kashmir after 5 August (2019) I saw everything was under siege and the very next day I was welcomed by tear-smoke and pepper-gas shells in my neighborhood, and it choked our breath including that of children,” Javaid said. He added that he “penned down the same experience in another song,” “Nazara,” which compared Indian politicians with Nazis. The success of “Little Kid Big Dreams” inspired several rappers, including 29-year-old Mir Gazanfar aka SXR. The
rapper released his multilingual album, “Shalakh.” The set of eight songs starts with an introduction featuring MC Kash: “Straight out of f--- dungeon of living hell / Where rap is just a medium for the stories I tell / High in the mountains the lone survivor runs / Tore the belly of the beast, the native son.” SXR, who has been producing hip-hop since late 2010, told The Diplomat that hip-hop is evolving ever since “conscious” music returned to Kashmir valley. “I happened to meet Ahmer [Javaid] after a long time through
The silence of “conscious” rap in Kashmir ended in the summer of 2019 when a lesser known rapper, spotted in an imperial-style-beard, featured in the album “Little Kid Big Dreams,” produced by Delhibased independent record label, Azadi Records.
social media in Delhi wherein we discussed the new rap that had hijacked [the] real hip-hop culture of Kashmir,” he said. “We felt the need and it actually forced me to return into this field once again. I started producing fusion songs but still I felt that I was not doing justice with hip-hop as it is an entirely different genre,” he added. SRX, with the help of Javaid, met many hip-hop artists to learn the tricks of the trade until he decided that he will produce songs in local languages. “Then came the ‘Shalakh’ with 9 tracks varying from heartbreaking to growing up in a war zone,” he said. “Later on all the artists like Tufail and Arsalan, who desired to produce sensible music, came together and that gave birth to the hip-hop community of Kashmir,” he concluded.
THREATS AND UNCERTAIN FUTURE Freedom of speech and expression in the Kashmir valley is going through a crisis after the revocation of the former state’s special status. Police officials, as per media reports, in these years have summoned several citizens including journalists for criticizing the government of India on social media or bringing out stories that went against government narrative. Rights activists have condemned the incidents and termed the move as an assault on Article 19 (1A) of the Indian Constitution, which grants freedom of speech and expression. Rappers say that they feel “insecure and threatened” whenever they produce political content, which is why they try to balance their way of storytelling by talking about other
Mir Gazanfar, aka SXR, made a comeback in the field of hip-hop after coming to believe that newcomers have hijacked the real hip-hop of Kashmir with invective lyrics. (TNS)
Tufail Nazir and Syed Arslan together formed SOS (Straight Outta Srinagar). The young men from the capital city of Indian administered Kashmir have sung many songs together mostly on conflict in the region. (TNS)
issues as well. “One cannot ignore conflict because we have grown in an abnormal environment,” Nazir of SOS said, adding, “Every conscious rapper is playing smart about politics and conflict seeps into their music.” Nazir’s partner, Arsalan, interrupted the conversation and told The Diplomat that Kashmiri rappers have a reason to tell their stories unlike the rappers found in Indian mainland. “Our hearts have become heavy because we have seen everything, unlike the rappers from other parts of India,” he said. “My stage name Aatanki is actually borrowed from epithets that I was smothered with by my friends and batch mates during my school life in mainland India. I was called Aatankwadi (terrorist) and Pakistani for telling the truth,” he adds. Arsalan claimed that a police official, who happened to be his acquaintance, once called his uncle and told him to pass on the message to his nephew that he should “refrain from producing content that touches conflict and politics” after watching one of the songs, “Khoon Rezi.” “Other than this phone call we did not face any threat from anyone,” he said. “I made my uncle understand that it was important to highlight the issues we have been facing and he should be proud of me as I was the only person in the family to make people aware about the different situations,” Arsalan added. Arif Farooq, alias Qafilah, said that conscious Kashmiri rappers do not earn money through the music they produce. “Rappers like me don’t get live gigs because of the nature of our content,” he said. “We may earn a decent amount of money only after monetization of our own streaming channels followed by ample subscribers and
Rappers say that they feel “insecure and threatened” whenever they produce political content, which is why they try to balance their way of storytelling by talking about other issues as well. “One cannot ignore conflict because we have grown in an abnormal environment.” genuine downloads,” Qafilah added. As Qafliah was sharing his opinion, Javaid stopped him, saying that they are not into making money. Music to them is more or less equal to spirituality, Javaid explained. “It is not something we are making money out of it. Once the situation will get back to normal we might get gigs outside Kashmir,” he said. “I got an opportunity from commercial musical firms back when I was not signed with Azadi Records but I did not opt for it because I knew the requirements of their music. My conscience did not allow me,” he concluded. This article was originally published on The Diplomat.
Egyptian Village Mourns Swiss Artist
Evelyne Porret: The Trailblazing Pottery Teacher Majalla
After news of her death this week at the age of 82, thousands mourned her departure as she Swiss artist Evelyne Porret was not just a fa- was behind making the Tunis village in Fayymous potter. But she was a pioneer in creative oum city one of the most famous and prominent community services and community develop- artistic and tourist destinations in the world. Porret learned the art of ceramics from her ment.
Swiss artist Evelyne Porret in Tunis village, Fayyoum, Egypt. (Nagada: The website of the pottery school)
childhood and studied applied arts at the University of Geneva. Visiting Lake Qarun 45 years ago, Porret or Madame Evelyne fell in love with the Tunis village and has since then been on a quest to turn the underprivileged village into a tourist attraction. In Egypt, Evelyne also married the late Egyptian poet Sayed Hegab and built with him a simple house near Lake Qarun, surrounded by clear greenery, trees, sun, and pigeon towers. At the time, Tunis Village consisted of a few peasant dwellings surrounded by greenery with no electricity or water. But with her house, Madame Evelyne breathed life into the village. Ten years after she settled in the village, Evelyne organized the first pottery festival. After the festival, the Egyptian authorities provided the place with electricity and water. Evelyne also established a school in the village, teaching young men and women the manufacture of ceramics and pottery. Egyptian plastic artist, Mohamed Abla, wrote on his Facebook page, “Bye bye, Evelyne. Much sadness in Tunis village and all of Egypt.” The same grief was expressed in a statement by Fayoum Governor Ahmed Al-Ansari in which it was stated that Porret loved Fayoum and settled in Tunis village since the sixties of the last century. “She established an association and a school for the manufacture of ceramics and pottery in the village, teaching young men and girls the craft of making pottery. “She helped them set up their own workshops and opened areas to market their products locally and internationally.” He added that Madame Evelyne worked to transform Tunis village from a rural village into a tourist destination, with a special character, and a spot for visitors from Egypt and various countries of the world. Egyptian artist and potter Khaled Serag, a professor at the Faculty of Applied Arts, Department of Ceramics, Helwan University, said that Porret began her life in Fayoum by making friends with young children and their families. “She used to give every child a piece of pottery clay, and leave them to have fun with it and
Visiting Lake Qarun 45 years ago, Porret or Madame Evelyne fell in love with the Tunis village and has since then been on a quest to turn the underprivileged village into a tourist attraction. form art pieces,” he recalled. The artist added that those children developed a passion for making pottery. So she opened that school for them and her students started working on teaching others and they established their own workshops in the village. “It all started with a piece of clay that she gave to the children of the village - a great gift that included everyone.”
Swiss-born artists Evelyne Porret )Nagada: The website of the pottery school(
R-rr-oaring Home With a Takeaway Circus Egyptian Lion Tamer Brings Circus Home Amid Coronavirus Pandemic Menna A. Farouk Twenty-something Ashraf el-Helw used to go to the circus as a youngster, sitting with the most deadly animals, including lions and tigers. El-Helw’s relationship with lions has been deepening since
his childhood, pushing him to be psychologically attached to the world of predatory animal husbandry, not just because he belongs to the oldest Egyptian family in the circus business which trains lions to perform. Ashraf is the youngest among the sons of Mohamed Mohamed El Helou who is well known in Egypt for his
Ashraf El Helw and lion tamer, seen during a circus performance at his home in El Agouza, Giza city.
lion shows at the circus. After the coronavirus pandemic, young Ashraf came up with the idea of moving the circus home, to reduce the spread of the virus and at the same time continue to entertain fans. “I wanted to keep entertaining people with circus shows as I know how stressful it has been during the coronavirus lockdowns,” Helw told Majalla, “I also know how much many Egyptian families want to go to the circus and watch some shows but they cannot. So, I decided to take the circus to their homes.” At first, Ashraf›s two older siblings, sister Bushra and brother Youssef, were amazed at the idea. Despite their long years of working with the lions, they had never turned their apartment into a venue for shows, but soon they agreed and the three of them cooperated in implementing the experiment. El Helw’s younger brother transports Joumana, a smart and skilled four-year-old lioness, via his own car as there is a cage installed in the back sofa of the car specifically for the lioness. This is not the first time that Ashraf is taking lions home or to other places. He has always taken the lions to filming sites or programs, and succeeded in transfers easily with different sizes of predators, whether cubs or old lions. “Joumana was depressed after the circus performances stopped as she has been accustomed since childhood to practicing exercises and presenting performances. So I decided to do these shows at home,” he said. At his home, El Helw has installed tables that bear Jumana’s weight so that she could walk on them. He began the experiment by signaling to Jumana to get down from the chair and move to the tables, passing over the body of the trainer’s sister, Bushra, and then returning again to the chair. The scenes were recorded in few minutes-long video clips. Since the coronavirus, El-Helw has also transferred all of the animals to the family’s farm, which resembles their wildlife habitat.
POSITIVE FEEDBACK El Helw said that he has received a lot of praise from viewers of the show, while others saw that the experience was a danger to his life and his family. But he said, “If I had not had complete control over the experience from beginning to end, I would definitely not do it. Joumana loves me and safety is very important to me.” Through his shows with Jumana, El Helw said that he is also trying to make it clear that no matter how fierce the animal is, it must be treated with love and there should be no violence or beating in training it. The lion tamer also said that the shows are not intended to convey information that “it is easy to stay with the lion at home” or to encourage their upbringing in homes. “People asked me about raising predators in homes. I do not encourage it because it can be very harmful if they are not accustomed to that and do not know how to deal with lions,”
After the coronavirus pandemic, young Ashraf came up with the idea of moving the circus home, to reduce the spread of the virus and at the same time continue to entertain fans. he said. Last month, the Egyptian government took a raft of measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. It brought forward the closing hours of Egyptian stores, malls and restaurants to 9pm to help contain the coronavirus for two weeks. Large gatherings and concerts were banned over the same period and beaches and parks were shut between May 16-12. These measures were eased as of this month, but caution is still there out of fear of unexpected rise in cases.
Ashraf El Helw, a lion tamer, poses for a photo with his lioness Jumana in his house in El Agouza neighbourhood, Giza city.
‘Cruella’ is Dazzling Fun But It Shows Too Much Sympathy for The de Vil Justin Chang It may seem counterintuitive, but the easiest way to enjoy “Cruella” — and it’s plenty enjoyable, even when it overstays its welcome — is to try and forget that it has much of anything to do with “One Hundred and One Dalmatians.” The filmmakers, of course, do not always make this easy. In line with the Walt Disney Company’s nostalgia-tickling, franchise-building corporate imperatives, they have been tasked with revisiting that 1961 animated chestnut and spinning off a live-action origin story for its memorable fascist-fashionista villain, Cru-
ella de Vil. And so they pile on the tie-in references galore. Those famous spotted dogs make an appearance. You’ll recognize key supporting characters from their names, like Roger and Anita, Horace and Jasper, and you’ll likely also pick up on a snippet of the original film’s signature tune: “Cruella de Vil/ Cruella de Vil/ If she doesn’t scare you, no evil thing will … ” The muddled but intriguing revelation of “Cruella” is that the thing in question isn’t really all that evil. Like so many other storybook villains subjected to elaborate image makeovers, from “Wicked” to “Maleficent,” Cru-
ella — played here by a wholly committed, glammedto-the-nines Emma Stone — isn’t much of a monster. Certainly she’s a far cry from the shrieking fur-clad demon played by Glenn Close in 1996’s live-action “101 Dalmatians” (and its best-unmentioned sequel). She’s just impatient, perpetually misunderstood and unwilling to play by the rules of a world that fails to recognize her brilliance. What this leaves us with, practically speaking, isn’t a prequel or an origin story so much as the product of an alternate timeline. By movie’s end, this Cruella seems as likely to skin a dog as she is to wear a T-shirt to the Met Gala. Puppycidal maniacs don’t make sympathetic protagonists — and “Cruella,” above all, wants you to sympathize.
Emma Stone as Cruella in Disney’s live-action “Cruella.” (TNS)
To that end, our protagonist is introduced as a likably mischievous English tot named Estella (played by Tipper Seifert-Cleveland) who has keen fashion sense, a telltale black-and-white bob of hair and a loving mother (Emily Beecham) who tries to suppress her naturally rebellious streak. But then, before you can say “Lemony Snicket,” a series of ghastly incidents leave Estella tragically orphaned and running for her life on the streets of London. When we catch up with her several years later, she’s a seasoned grifter (now played by Stone), her hair dyed a less obtrusive crimson and her table piled high with magnificent sartorial creations. A master of DIY couture, she sews brilliant disguises for herself and her partners in crime, the bumbling Horace (Paul Walter Hauser, very good) and the sensitive Jasper (Joel Fry, ditto). These scenes set us adrift in a 1970s London that, like the actual 1970s London, is considerably more racially diverse than earlier Disney entertainments might have bothered to register. The director, Craig Gillespie, and his cinematographer, Nicolas Karakatsanis, send their camera soaring and whooshing through the streets in a movie that surges with infectious punk energy. If the two-guys-and-a-girl antics pack some of the New Wave vitality of “Band of Outsiders,” the serpentine tracking shots and nonstop needle drops often seem to be channeling “Goodfellas.” (The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” is merely the most on-the-nose choice on a rebellion-themed soundtrack crammed with ’60s and ’70s hits like “Feeling Good,” “Should I Stay or Should I Go” and, fittingly for this leading lady, “Stone Cold Crazy.”)
The muddled but intriguing revelation of “Cruella” is that the thing in question isn’t really all that evil. Like so many other storybook villains subjected to elaborate image makeovers, from “Wicked” to “Maleficent,” Cruella — played here by a wholly committed, glammed-to-the-nines Emma Stone — isn’t much of a monster. Gillespie makes a pretty snug fit for this material after his darkly comic Tonya Harding biopic, “I, Tonya”; you could think of this superior follow-up as “I, Cruella,” another cracked portrait of a downtrodden but determined young woman none-too-reliably narrating the story of her many rises and falls. But then, you could also see it as the latest variation on a classic fairy-tale template: The screenwriters, Dana Fox and Tony McNamara (a writer on Stone’s 2018 film, “The Favourite”), shrewdly position Estella as a kind of shabby-chic Cinderella, albeit one who dresses up for a different ball every night and dreams of revenge rather than Prince Charming. Every Cinderella needs a wicked stepmother, and here that role falls to the imperious Baroness von Hellman, played by an impossibly elegant and diabolical Emma Thompson. (The Miranda Priestly vibes are far from coincidental; Aline Brosh McKenna, who receives a story credit here, also wrote “The Devil Wears Prada.”) When Estella lucks her way into a job as a designer at the Baroness’ ultra-prestigious label, she initially can’t believe her good fortune — but then, through a series of cleverly interlocking revelations, she comes to learn that the Baroness is more than just an unusually demanding boss. She’s a dangerous narcissist and an unambiguous monster, someone who deserves to be humiliated, disgraced and finally toppled from her throne. And so Estella unleashes her long-dormant alter ego, Cruella, who begins crashing the Baroness’ nightly ga-
las with a succession of stunning gowns and a natural flair for shock-the-runway theatrics. Whether she’s strutting about in shiny black leather, incorporating wearable flammables or — in a jaw-dropping visual highlight — trailing a mile-long chiffon train from the back of a garbage truck, Cruella soon establishes herself as the glam-punk performance artist of the fashion world. Besides relying on muscle from Horace and Jasper, she borrows some queer-eye inspiration from Artie, a vintage dress-shop owner played by a fine if underused John McCrea. (The genius behind Cruella’s artistry is the endlessly inventive costume designer Jenny Beavan, in her most extravagant showcase since “Mad Max: Fury Road.”) The battle of the Emmas is as hard to resist on-screen as it must have been on paper, even if it’s not exactly a fair fight. In the context of the story, Cruella’s headlinegrabbing stunts make her a persistent thorn in the Baroness’ side; in terms of pure on-screen magnetism, it’s a different story. Few can do withering arrogance with more offhand conviction than Thompson, the kind of actor who can raise a glass to herself (“Here’s to me”) as if it were the most logical thing in the world. She’s a total hoot. She also winds up illuminating a deeper con-
The battle of the Emmas is as hard to resist on-screen as it must have been on paper, even if it’s not exactly a fair fight. In the context of the story, Cruella’s headline-grabbing stunts make her a persistent thorn in the Baroness’ side; in terms of pure on-screen magnetism, it’s a different story.
ceptual flaw in “Cruella” and perhaps the larger cottage industry of recasting memorable baddies as tortured antiheroes. In a movie ostensibly about the origins of a great villain, it’s Thompson’s Baroness who comes off as the actual great villain. Stone of course has trickier, more complicated notes to play. Curiously enough, her most satisfying moments belong to Estella, quietly biding her time and plotting her next move, rather than to Cruella, an indistinct presence who often seems in danger of being upstaged — sometimes upholstered — by her own couture. But if Stone has trouble navigating her inner Jekyll-and-Hyde dynamic, that’s largely due to the herky-jerky impreci-
Emma Thompson as the Baroness and Andrew Leung as Jeffery in Disney’s live-action, ‘Cruella‘ )TNS(
sions in the script, which seems uncertain whether to make the emergent Cruella merely misguided, borderline unhinged or genuinely unscrupulous — and finally settles on a coy, unsatisfying mix of all three.
humanity may be forced into a kind of stalemate, at least when there’s a corporate-branded intellectual property involved. “Cruella” isn’t a bad movie, even if its heroine is nowhere near bad enough.
It’s instructive that in “The Favourite,” one of a few recent films to feature as many ruffled gowns and skyhigh wigs as this one, Stone nailed every nuance as another lowly young woman turned ambitious schemer. That movie reveled in its moral ambiguities; “Cruella,” trying to do something similar, is ultimately stymied by them. While its surface pleasures are dazzling — if a bit protracted, at well north of two hours — it finally suggests that memorable screen villainy and complex inner
Rated: PG-13, for some violence and thematic elements Running time: 2 hours, 14 minutes Playing: Opens Friday in theaters and streaming as PVOD on Disney+ This article was originally published by The Los Angeles Times.
Is Your Daily Nap Doing More Harm Than Good ? Tips for Better Naps and Nighttime sleep Kelly Bilodeau A midday snooze can be helpful, but the need for one might signal chronic sleep deprivation. In many cultures, napping in the afternoon is not only common, but a regular part of daily life. In the United States, as many as a third of adults regularly partake in a midday catnap, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
If you are in good health, these short daytime sleeps can bring benefits: helping you catch up on a late night, making you feel less cranky, or ensuring you’re well rested if you do a job that falls outside traditional daytime work hours. They can also keep you safe on the road, protecting you from drowsydriving accidents. “In addition to reducing sleepiness, naps have been shown to improve memory in the laboratory
setting,” says Dr. Suzanne Bertisch, an Associate Physician and Clinical Director of Behavioral Sleep Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. But the research on napping isn’t all rosy. “There have been some large epidemiology studies that have suggested both benefits and harms with napping on a population level,” she says. It is difficult to draw conclusions on the individual level.
THE PROS AND CONS OF NAPS
Woman and grey tabby cat sleeping on a sofa )Getty(
For example, some studies have found that adults who take long naps during the day may be more likely to have conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and depression. The urge to sleep during the day may be a sign that they are not getting enough sleep at night, which is associated with a higher risk of developing those chronic conditions. Daytime drowsiness may also be a sign that you are getting low-quality sleep, which may indicate a sleep disorder. In some instances, napping sets up a vicious cycle. You sleep during the day to make up for lost sleep at night, but then you have a harder time falling asleep at night because you slept during the day. “Limiting naps is one strategy to improve overall nighttime sleep,” says Dr. Bertisch.
If you are in good health, these short daytime sleeps can bring benefits: helping you catch up on a late night, making you feel less cranky, or ensuring you’re well rested if you do a job that falls outside traditional daytime work hours. pecially if you nap regularly,” says Dr. Bertisch. Track how much sleep you are getting at night. If you aren’t getting enough, try to improve your sleep habits (see “Tips for better nighttime sleep”). “If you are already getting at least seven or more hours of sleep at night and are still tired during the day, discuss this with your doctor,” she says.
TIPS FOR BETTER NIGHTTIME SLEEP
If you find yourself tossing and turning at night, here are some strategies you can use to rest more HOW TO NAP WELL soundly. If you do plan to take a nap during the day, here are Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and some guidelines you can follow to help ensure that wake up at the same time each day. Avoid alcohol and caffeine late in the day. These it won’t interfere with your nighttime slumber. Time it right. The best time to sleep is the early can both interfere with sleep quality. afternoon, when your body experiences a natural Turn off electronics at least one hour before bedcircadian dip, says Dr. Bertisch. “If you take a nap time. Blue light from screens, such as your televiin the late afternoon or evening, it will likely be sion or phone, can make it harder for you to fall asleep. So shut them down at least an hour before harder to fall asleep later,” she says. Keep it short. Abbreviated sleeps, around 20 min- you turn in. utes, may be best to avoid grogginess when you Exercise regularly. Daily workouts during the day wake up. Shorter naps can also help to prevent you can help promote better nighttime sleep. from having trouble falling asleep that evening. Set the stage. You’ll get the best sleep if your room is cool, dark, and quiet. Time it right by setting an alarm. Get comfortable. For a high-quality rest, be sure Be alert to signs of a sleep disorder. Pay a visit to find a quiet, cozy spot where you won’t be dis- to your doctor if you are sleeping for the recommended seven to eight hours a night and are still tracted. Examine your motivation. “If you need to nap dur- feeling fatigued. ing the day, it is important to assess why you may be sleepy enough to fall asleep during the day, es- By Harvard Women’s Health Watch
‘As You Wish’
Egyptian Poet Constructs His Own Time Dimension By Amira Noshokaty In his latest book of poetry, titled “Ma ba dalak, “ (As you wish) renowned Egyptian poet Amin Haddad does exactly that. Published in December 2020 by Dar AlShorouk publishing house, due to COVID19restrictions, it took him a few months to launch the book signing along with a poetry and music evening that was held on April 2021. ‘As You Wish’ is Haddad’s seventh book of poetry and the first where he explores a different voice, as he has dedicated a whole section to poetry written in classical Arabic. “When I chose to write vernacular poetry, I chose to have a specific voice, however, trying classical Arabic opens up new worlds, voices as well as attitudes for me as it is the voice of a lot of our heritage, the language of Quran, and of poets like Al Motanabi and Mahmoud Darwish, “ explained Amin Haddad. Born in 1958, Hadddad deviates from the nostalgic note that is used by many poets of his generation. In all his books, he usually waltzes between classical and vernacular poetic language on the tempo of time. Time is of essence to Amin Haddad. He neither laments the past nor curses the present. He toys with moments that he manages to set free from both worlds
and builds his own time line. In the introduction to his latest book, and for the first time, he addresses the reader as he reveals a semi biographical note about himself in classical Arabic. “I introduce myself to you and to whoever it may concern, maybe you can help me answer my question: Why am I here and why are you here? He eloquently reveals his background, and childhood and his relationship with his father, the vernacular poetry pillar, Fouad Haddad, by stating his full name: “My name is Amin Fouad Selim Amin Hanna Eid Haddad, a full name that reveals the religion of my grandparents, their pan Arabism and the changes in their characters. When I was an infant, they stole our father for five years and I visited him as a child in the Al-Wahat detention.” In the first section of the book, written in vernacular poetic format, Haddad invites us to take a walk with him. In his poem titled Mashaweer, (Errands) he practices his time game when he walks down memory lane and revisits the places where he used to live and run errands. How the memory collects, complies, and selects” the moments is very interesting. And how such memory is the magic wand that gives emotional layers that enriches the places we visit along the long route of life. Adopting the same line of thought, in his
As for his classical poetry section of the book, it seems to adopt the same line of thought. The poet is urging the reader to perform the act of resilience and resistance and to enhance the eternal beauty of life and all the possibilities that it keeps unfolding for us as long as we live and explore.
poem titled “Men Fadlak,” (If you please), he puts life in a nutshell: و احنا حنعيش فى الدنيا دقايق يتغير حوالينا املشهد مليون مرة و نموت As for us, We have moments to live in this world in which the scenes change a million times and then we die. But reflecting on life does not stop Haddad from urging the reader to interact with life and actually make one’s own version of it. In his poem Horeya, (Freedom) he wisely elaborates on the role of poets and creativity in general. حتة صمت فى طرف العالم
مستنية كالمك يمالها بثمانية و عشرين حرف اعمل ما بدالك وافهم إن ماحدش ينفع يكتب شعرك فى الدنيا بدالك There is a quiet place at the edge of the world Waiting for your words to fill With 28 letters, do what you wish And know that nobody else in this world can write your poems instead of you As for his classical poetry section of the book, it seems to adopt the same line of thought. The poet is urging the reader to perform the act of resilience and resistance and to enhance the eternal beauty of life and all the possibilities that it keeps unfolding for us as long as we live and explore. In the last poem he directly addresses the reader and urges them to “plant life”. فلتؤمنوا بشىء صغير فلتؤمنوا باملعنى, فإن زهدتم فى الشىء...... و هناك عيون ترفض الدمع و ترفض املرثية وهناك رجل جاء من أقصى املدينة يسعى ليحضر األمسية Believe in something small then, If you renounce a thing, then believe in the meaning... And there are eyes that reject tears and reject the epitaph And there is a man who came from the farthest part of the city seeking to attend the evening