March of the mummies: Egypt readies for pharaohs’ parade

March of the mummies: Egypt readies for pharaohs’ parade
The sarcophagus of Tutankhamun, Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt, Jan. 31, 2019. A so-called ‘curse of the pharaoh’ emerged in the wake of Tutankhamun’s unearthing in 1922-23. (Reuters)
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Updated 01 April 2021

March of the mummies: Egypt readies for pharaohs’ parade

March of the mummies: Egypt readies for pharaohs’ parade
  • The 18 kings and four queens will travel in order, oldest first, each aboard a separate float decorated in ancient Egyptian style
  • Some have inevitably speculated on social media that the mummies’ looming disturbance has provoked them into unleashing curses

CAIRO: The mummified remains of 22 ancient Egyptian kings and queens will be paraded through the streets of Cairo Saturday, in an eye-catching royal procession to a new resting place.
Dubbed the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade, the 18 kings and four queens will travel in order, oldest first, each aboard a separate float decorated in ancient Egyptian style.
They are being moved from a decades-long residency at the Egyptian Museum in central Cairo for display at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization.
The new museum, in the south of the capital, opened its doors to limited exhibits from 2017 and will open fully on Sunday, before the mummies go on display to the general public from April 18.
Upon arrival, they will occupy “slightly upgraded cases,” said Salima Ikram, professor of Egyptology at the American University in Cairo.
“The temperature and humidity control will be even better than it was in the old museum,” added Ikram, a mummification specialist.
Emblazoned with the name of their allocated sovereign, each of the gold-colored carriages will be fitted with shock absorbers for the 40-minute journey through Cairo, to ensure none of the precious cargos are accidentally disturbed by uneven surfaces.
Seqenenre Tao II, “the Brave,” who reigned over southern Egypt some 1,600 years before Christ, will be on the first chariot, while Ramses IX, who reigned in the 12th century BC, will be at the rear.
Ramses II and Queen Hatshepsut, the most powerful female pharaoh, will also make the journey.
Beginning at 6:00 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Saturday, the procession will take place under the watchful eyes of hefty deployments of security forces.
The parade will be spurred on by music and performances from Egyptian artists, all broadcast live on state television.
Discovered near Luxor from 1881 onwards, most of the 22 mummies have lain since the early 1900s in the Egyptian Museum, on the capital’s iconic Tahrir Square.
From the 1950s, they were put on display in a small room, one next to the other, unaccompanied by explanatory blurbs.
Ahead of their departure onto Cairo’s streets, the mummies will be placed in special containers filled with nitrogen, under conditions similar to their regular exhibition boxes.
In their new home, they will be showcased individually, each next to a sarcophagus — and in some cases, a statue — in an environment redolent of underground royal tombs.
Exhibits will be signposted by a brief biography and, in some cases, copies of computerised tomography (CT) scans.
“The mummies will be shown for the first time in a beautiful way, for education, not for a thrill,” another Egyptologist, Zahi Hawass, told AFP.
The macabre appearance of the mummies has over the decades put off some visitors.
Among the most prominent was a fellow royal — Princess Margaret, sister to British monarch Queen Elizabeth II.
“I will never forget when I took Margaret to the museum,” said Hawass, a former antiquities minister.
“In the gallery was the mummy of Ramses II... (Princess Margaret) closed her eyes and ran away — she couldn’t stand” what she saw before her.
The National Museum of Egyptian Civilization was completed in 2010, and “I was planning to open this museum in 2012,” Hawass said.
“But because of what happened in Egypt we could not,” he added, referring to the country’s 2011 popular revolution and subsequent turmoil.
In the coming months, the country is due to inaugurate another new facility, the Grand Egyptian Museum, near the Giza pyramids.
It will also house pharaonic collections, including the celeberated treasure of Tutankhamun.
Discovered in 1922, the tomb of the young ruler, who took the throne briefly in the 14th century BC, contained treasures including gold and ivory.
A so-called “curse of the pharaoh” emerged in the wake of Tutankhamun’s unearthing in 1922-23.
A key funder of the British dig, Lord Carnarvon, died of blood poisoning months after the tomb was opened, while an early visitor died abruptly in 1923.
With the planned parade coming only days after several disasters struck Egypt, some have inevitably speculated on social media that the mummies’ looming disturbance has provoked them into unleashing curses.
Recent days have seen a deadly rail collision and a building collapse in Cairo, while global headlines were dominated by the fate of the giant container ship the MV Ever Given that blocked the Suez Canal for almost a week.
Both Hawass and Ikram were at pains to dispell any notion of a link between the mummies’ parade and recent events.
“You know that everyone loves a story like this,” said Ikram. “It makes things far more dramatic.”


Princess Reema hopes global walkathon will raise awareness of plight of big cats

Princess Reema hopes global walkathon will raise awareness of plight of big cats
Updated 24 September 2021

Princess Reema hopes global walkathon will raise awareness of plight of big cats

Princess Reema hopes global walkathon will raise awareness of plight of big cats
  • Global ‘Catwalk’ scheduled for November will ‘form a bridge between cat conservation, the environment, and active lifestyles’

DUBAI: In an effort to raise awareness of endangered big cats and their ecosystems, the US-based independent non-profit foundation Catmosphere is hosting a worldwide ‘Catwalk’ on November 6 in a bid to get people moving and simultaneously benefit the world’s big cats.

Catmosphere was launched in July by Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, who is on a mission to safeguard the lives and wellbeing of big cats. Catmosphere aims to magnify the efforts of Panthera, the only organization in the world devoted to the conservation of 40 species of wild cats.

“Catmosphere is a catalyst for change. Its campaigns and activations are (intended) to build momentum globally around big cat conservation,” Princess Reema told Arab News. “I first understood the threat to the future of big cats when I learned about Panthera’s work in Saudi Arabia with the Royal Commission of AlUla, where they are researching the status of the Arabian leopard in the Kingdom with a view to forging a path for its recovery in the region.”

Catmosphere aims to magnify the efforts of Panthera, the only organization in the world devoted to the conservation of 40 species of wild cats. (Shutterstock)

Many species of big cats are now facing extinction. Catmosphere focuses on Panthera’s conservation efforts covering seven big cat species: Tigers, lions, cheetahs, jaguars, pumas, leopards, and snow leopards.

“The future of big cats is under threat, primarily due to diminishing habitats,” Princess Reema said. “Accordingly, Catwalk is striving for a healthy habitat for big cats, and healthy habitats start at home. A healthy and active lifestyle helps us respect our own bodies, and engaging with our environment gives us an appreciation for the fundamental role it plays in all of life. Catwalk invites us all to ignite physical movement locally, and in doing so trigger the big cat conservation movement globally.”

Princess Reema, who sits on the boards of both the Catmosphere foundation and Panthera’s Conservation Council, is actively involved in Catwalk as part of the leadership team.

Many species of big cats are now facing extinction. (Shutterstock)

It hopes to rally supporters around the world to take part in the global, mass-participation seven-kilometer walk on Nov. 6.

The event is open to everyone and can be completed in whatever way works best for the participant, wherever they are in the world. What is unique about the event is its link between building awareness about big cats, the environment and the importance of one’s own health, wellbeing and physical fitness.

“The global mass-participation activity aims to form a bridge between cat conservation, the environment, and active lifestyles, and brings together my own past experiences in campaign curation,” Princess Reema said. “I’m excited to work with different stakeholders all around the globe to map a path for scalable, inclusive campaign delivery that demonstrates how igniting a movement locally can result in meaningful change, ensuring the wellbeing and continuation of big cat populations globally.”

Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud is on a mission to safeguard the lives and wellbeing of big cats. (AFP)

Princess Reema stressed that the pandemic has impacted the world’s experience of both wildlife and community.

According to the World Health Organization, 24 percent of all human deaths are attributable to environmental factors. A quarter of the world’s population is at risk due to insufficient exercise in increasingly sedentary societies. Big cats are even more dependent on their environments than humans.

Panthera has warned that important species are threatened by habitat loss, and that the tiger, lion, leopard and cheetah have lost between 65 percent and 96 percent of their historical numbers.

The seven-kilometer walk will take place on Nov. 6. (Supplied)

“The reality of the pandemic and the experience that the whole world has just had of separation and isolation from human communities due to COVID-19 is very much what was done to the big cats when we cut off their territorial corridors and isolated them from their natural habitats in nature,” Princess Reema said.

“Just as we have seen that impact on us, imagine what that impact has been on them. Catwalk is hoping to highlight a very simple fact: That our collective wellbeing is interconnected, and so it is incumbent on all of us to operate through empathy and provide spaces that we as humans would want to live and thrive in, and ensure the same for big cats,” she added.

As Princess Reema underlines, given the challenges presented by the pandemic over the past 18 months, now is the time to reassess our relationship with nature and as well as that “between a healthy person and a healthy environment, to showcase the potential that each of us has to ensure a healthy future for big cats, too.”


Co-founder of the Independent Iraqi Film Festival discusses second edition 

 Co-founder of the Independent Iraqi Film Festival discusses second edition 
Updated 24 September 2021

Co-founder of the Independent Iraqi Film Festival discusses second edition 

 Co-founder of the Independent Iraqi Film Festival discusses second edition 
  • ‘We have other stories to tell besides chaos,’ says Shahnaz Dulaimy

DUBAI: When Iraqi film editor Shahnaz Dulaimy was a university student, an academic counsellor advised her to pursue heavyweight majors such as economics and business management — the kind of thing a typical family would approve of — and not her desired option, film. 

Instead, Dulaimy, who was raised in Jordan, did the complete opposite. She moved to Rome, where classic movies including “La Dolce Vita” and “Roman Holiday” were shot, and studied film history and production. 

“There’s such a stigma around (working in creative sectors),” she tells Arab News. “When you hear people talking about actors and actresses, for example, they make it sound like such a demeaning job. But, at the same time, everyone sits in front of the TV, watching the latest TV series or films. There’s still this (disparaging attitude) towards the film industry. Luckily, there are more people pushing it, but I don’t think it’s 100 percent where it needs to be.”

Dulaimy was raised in Jordan. (Supplied)

In London, where she now lives, she co-founded the Independent Iraqi Film Festival along with like-minded cinema-loving Iraqis. The volunteer-run, online event launched last year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and notched up around 5,000 views. Dulaimy calls it a “passion project,” highlighting talent from emerging and established Iraqi filmmakers. 

“We wanted to see films that reflect us and our identity. Iraqi cinema is generally underrepresented on the international circuit,” she says. “What we had aimed to do is to provide a platform dedicated to showcasing Iraqi films.” 

The organizers of the IIFF were so overwhelmed by support from both viewers and filmmakers that they decided to go for a second run. Between October 1 and 7, the IIFF will present a curated program of 15 feature films and a series of talks featuring three well-known industry figures: American-Iraqi visual artist Michael Rakowitz, Iraqi actress and director Zahraa Ghandour, and Iraqi set designer Mohammed Khalid. 

Among the featured films this year is “Iraqi Women: Voices from Exile,” made in the 1990s by London-based director Maysoon Pachachi. (Supplied)

This time around, more than 90 film submissions were received, which made Dulaimy and her colleagues realize more than ever the responsibility they bear. “I think it shifted from being just a passion project to more of a duty towards the Iraqi community in Iraq and the diaspora,” she says. 

To make the festival as accessible as possible, all its offerings will be freely available for streaming worldwide and subtitled in English. The filmmakers did not have to pay any submission fee either. 

“The moment you ask people to pay, there’s a wall. You’re kind of blocking people, you’re blocking talent,” she says. The selected independent films, created by both men and women who live inside and outside of the country, reflect the diversity of Iraqi society, as well as the struggles people encounter and their hopes and dreams. There is a particular focus on telling the stories of the marginalized — specifically women and minorities. 

“Iraq is not a one-layered country,” notes Dulaimy. “It’s a multi-dimensional, multi-textured culture. You’ve got everyone from the Kurds in northern Iraq to the Assyrians and Yazidis. It’s so important that everyone gets an equal voice. Iraqis are not just Arabic-speaking, Baghdad-born-and-raised Arabs.” Among the featured films this year is “Iraqi Women: Voices from Exile,” made in the 1990s by London-based director Maysoon Pachachi, and Ali Raheem’s 2015 documentary “Balanja,” about four Kurdish people overcoming the pains of the past. 

Over the past couple of decades, the image the outside world has of Iraq has been one of warfare, terror, and destruction. But, Dulaimy points out, Iraq has much more to offer to the world. 

“Iraq is not just a war-torn zone, where people are struggling on a daily basis. We have other stories to tell besides the political disarray and chaos. I think we’re ready to move on from that, we don’t want to keep playing the victims. I feel the time for us to move on is now,” she says. “I hope audiences also take into consideration how difficult it is to shoot a film. You’re not going to see a polished, dazzling film. What you’re going to see is raw, social, realist films. I just want people to go into the festival with open eyes and ears.”


REVIEW: ‘My Heroes Were Cowboys’  — a moving and elegant tribute to the art of horse training and one of its masters 

REVIEW: ‘My Heroes Were Cowboys’  — a moving and elegant tribute to the art of horse training and one of its masters 
Updated 24 September 2021

REVIEW: ‘My Heroes Were Cowboys’  — a moving and elegant tribute to the art of horse training and one of its masters 

REVIEW: ‘My Heroes Were Cowboys’  — a moving and elegant tribute to the art of horse training and one of its masters 

DUBAI: Growing up in a rural town in Australia, Robin Wiltshire was, in his own words, “the runt of the litter.” His authoritarian grandfather said he would never amount to anything, and Wiltshire — unable to read and write aged 10 — believed him. His grandfather was wrong, though. Wiltshire is now one of the most respected horse trainers in the world, and has worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood. 

The new short Netflix documentary “My Heroes Were Cowboys” tells how Wiltshire — inspired by a love of Westerns and a fascination with horses — moved to the US in the Seventies, dreaming of working with animals on movie sets. His timing was not great. “Star Wars” had just come out and Westerns were rapidly going out of fashion. However, Wiltshire found a home in Wyoming (director Tyler Greco shows, through sweeping panoramas of breathtaking landscape, why Wiltshire was so struck by Wyoming’s beauty), and began working with horses. In his understated drawl, Wiltshire explains how his third horse, Juniper, “changed my life completely” and briefly breaks down when describing his friend’s death. 

Wiltshire’s big break came with a commercial for Marlboro cigarettes, and he has gone on to work on countless advertising campaigns, TV shows and movies. But “My Heroes Were Cowboys” spends little time celebrating Wiltshire’s showbiz career and connections. Instead, it focuses on Wiltshire’s lifetime spent building an unparalleled understanding of horses. And the horses are its real stars.

Greco captures their majesty, grace and intelligence with the same empathy Wiltshire uses to build his relationships with animals that often arrive at his ranch traumatized and distressed. Wiltshire uses no physical coercion; he simply allows the animals to be themselves and shows them he can be trusted. They repay his trust by allowing themselves to be directed by him.

This beautifully shot doc packs more into its 27-minute runtime than many feature films manage in a couple of hours. It’s a triumph of storytelling and a tribute to the bond of unquestioning love that can exist between humans and animals when the latter are treated with the respect they deserve.


Egyptian actress Menna Shalaby nominated for international Emmy 

Egyptian actress Menna Shalaby nominated for international Emmy 
Updated 23 September 2021

Egyptian actress Menna Shalaby nominated for international Emmy 

Egyptian actress Menna Shalaby nominated for international Emmy 

DUBAI: Egyptian actress Menna Shalaby has been nominated for an international Emmy.

She is competing in the “Best Performance by an Actor” category for her role in the crime show “Fe Kol Esboa’ Youm Gomaa,” which is Arabic for “Every Week Has A Friday.”

The 10-episode series premiered on MBC’s streaming service Shahid in 2020.

It tells the story of Layla, who is forced to live with a man suffering from a mental illness. As the story unfolds, the pair commit violent crimes every Friday.

It was directed by Egyptian filmmaker Mohamed Shaker and also stars Asser Yassin, Sawsan Badr, Arfa Abdel Rassoul, and Ahmed Khaled Saleh.

Another Arab production that has made the cut is the Lebanese series “Beirut 6:07.”

It comprises 15 short films that look at last year’s tragic explosion in Beirut and highlights the stories of the victims as well as the survivors.

It is competing in the “Short-Form Series” category.

Winners will be announced at an in-person ceremony on Nov. 22 in New York.


Zac Efron, Jessica Alba star in another Dubai Tourism campaign

Zac Efron, Jessica Alba star in another Dubai Tourism campaign
Updated 23 September 2021

Zac Efron, Jessica Alba star in another Dubai Tourism campaign

Zac Efron, Jessica Alba star in another Dubai Tourism campaign

DUBAI: Hollywood duo Zac Efron and Jessica Alba have returned with another Dubai Tourism campaign. 

Released on Wednesday, the actors’ fourth promotional video, called “Dubai Presents: A Captivating Saga,” takes a close look at the UAE’s traditional activities and attractions. 

Alba stars as a young pilot who explores the country’s deserts.  

Over recent months, Dubai Tourism has released three videos, directed by Australian filmmaker Craig Gillespie, ahead of the long-awaited Expo 2020 Dubai event. 

The first ad was a spoof of an action film featuring Alba and Efron fighting off enemies at well-known landmarks across the city, such as the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Burj Khalifa and the Museum of the Future. 

In the second video, the stars appeared as tourists visiting the city. Upon their arrival at their hotels, they discover that they’ve got each other’s bags.

The Hollywood celebrities travel across the city on various adventures to meet and collect their identical luggage.  

In the third advert, Efron plays two characters, his younger self and an older version of himself who comes from the future to teach him life lessons.

The two characters go on a journey in the country’s souks and the surrounding deserts. They also go skydiving. 

The films present some of Dubai’s most-admired attractions, including the city’s dunes, Sheikh Zayed Road that runs through the heart of Dubai and historical sites — such as Dubai Creek and Al-Fahidi area.