Hijab-wearing ballerina performs on Alexandria streets to promote tourism

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Ballerina Aya Magdy - a student at Alexandria University - performing dance moves around the Egyptian city to promote tourism. (Photo: Hussein Hossam / Fantasia Photography)
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Ballerina Aya Magdy - a student at Alexandria University - performing dance moves around the Egyptian city to promote tourism. (Photo: Hussein Hossam / Fantasia Photography)
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Ballerina Aya Magdy - a student at Alexandria University - performing dance moves around the Egyptian city to promote tourism. (Photo: Hussein Hossam / Fantasia Photography)
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Ballerina Aya Magdy - a student at Alexandria University - performing dance moves around the Egyptian city to promote tourism. (Photo: Hussein Hossam / Fantasia Photography)
Updated 04 February 2018
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Hijab-wearing ballerina performs on Alexandria streets to promote tourism

ALEXANDRIA: Pictures featuring a 20-year-old Egyptian ballerina wearing a hijab as she performs on the streets of Alexandria have proved popular on social media.
Aya Magdy appears in photographs performing dance moves around the city and on its iconic Stanley Bridge while wearing a headscarf and donning a long-sleeved ballet dress.
Magdy, a law student at Alexandria University, says her aim is to showcase the beauty of her city by performing in front of its most famous sites and encourage tourists to visit.
When asked how people in the street react when seeing her, Magdy said: “They were surprised at first, but soon I began to see admiration in the way they looked at me as they see me perform this beautiful art,” she told the local Youm7 newspaper.
When the photos were posted on a public Facebook page, some people criticized her for dancing and wearing a hijab at the same time.
But Magdy said she wanted to break taboos about ballet dancing in Egypt, and promote it as a form of art.
The idea of taking to Egyptian streets and performing ballet began when the “Ballerinas of Cairo” were spotted posing and performing moves in front of Cairo’s architectural gems.
Magdy says she was inspired by them and wanted to do the same for her city.
See more photos from the shoot by Hussein Hossam / Fantasia Photography here.


Iraq says goodbye to its beloved archaeologist Al-Gailani

Updated 21 January 2019
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Iraq says goodbye to its beloved archaeologist Al-Gailani

  • Al-Gailani was one of Iraq’s first women to excavate the country’s archaeological heritage
  • After the US-led invasion, Al-Gailani continued to travel to Iraq, determined to rescue its heritage even as the country convulsed with war

BAGHDAD: Iraq on Monday mourned the loss of Lamia Al-Gailani, a beloved archaeologist who helped rebuild the Baghdad museum after it was looted following the 2003 US-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein.
Al-Gailani, who died in Amman, Jordan, on Friday at the age of 80, was one of Iraq’s first women to excavate the country’s archaeological heritage.
Relatives, colleagues, and cultural officials on Monday gathered at Baghdad’s National Museum, the country’s leading museum, to pay their respects before moving her remains to the Qadiriyyah mosque for prayers and later interment.
A devotee of her country’s heritage, Al-Gailani lent her expertise to restore relics stolen from the museum for its reopening in 2015. She also championed a new antiquities museum for the city of Basra, which opened in 2016.
“She was very keen to communicate on the popular level and make archaeology accessible to ordinary people,” said her daughter, Noorah Al-Gailani, who curates the Islamic civilizations collection at the Glasgow Museum in Scotland.
“It is a big loss, the passing of Dr. Lamia Al-Gailaini, who played a great role in the field of archaeology, even before 2003,” said the deputy minister of culture, Qais Hussein Rashid.
The restored collection at the National Museum included hundreds of cylinder seals, the subject of Al-Gailani’s 1977 dissertation at the University of London. These were engraved surfaces used to print cuneiform impressions and pictographic lore onto documents and surfaces in ancient Mesopotamia, now present-day Iraq.
Still, thousands of artefacts remain missing from the museum’s collection, and Al-Gailani bore the grief of watching her country’s rich heritage suffer unfathomable levels of looting and destruction in the years after Saddam’s ouster.
“I wish it was a nightmare and I could wake up,” she told the BBC in 2015, when Daesh militants bulldozed relics at the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud near present-day Mosul.
Born in Baghdad in 1938, Al-Gailani studied at the University of Cambridge in Britain before finding work as a curator at the National Museum in 1960. It was her first job in archaeology, her daughter said.
She returned to Britain in 1970 to pursue advanced studies, and she made her home there. Still, she kept returning to her native country, connecting foreign academics with an Iraqi archaeological community that was struggling under the isolation of Saddam Hussein’s autocratic rule and the UN sanctions against him.
In 1999, she published “The First Arabs,” in Arabic, with the Iraqi archaeologist Salim Al-Alusi, on the earliest traces of Arab culture in Mesopotamia, in the 6th through 9th centuries.
She would bring copies of the book with her to Baghdad and sell them through a vendor on Mutanabbi Street, the literary heart of the capital, according to her daughter.
After the US-led invasion, Al-Gailani continued to travel to Iraq, determined to rescue its heritage even as the country convulsed with war.
At the time of her death, she was working with the Basra Museum to curate a new exhibit set to open in March, said Qahtan Al-Abeed, the museum director.
“She hand-picked the cylinder seals to display at the museum,” said Al-Abeed.