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  Blog Entries  
  Greetings from Egypt!  
  School is cool  
  Prayers and Peace  
  The Great Feast  
  Movies and music I like  
  Tourism is Egypt's main idustry  
  We're going to the Pyramids!  
  Valley of the Kings and Queens  
  Pharaoh Ramses the Great  
  Summer holiday in Alexandria  
  International Youth Conference  
  My Cousin's Wedding  
  Ramadan is coming  
  Preparing for the national exams  
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  October 28, 2007
Preparing for national exams

Today I started working with a tutor who is helping me prepare for national exams. Secondary school and universities are free, but passing the national exams to get into these schools is difficult. So my parents have a tutor for me to make sure that I understand my lessons. Dinner is at 8pm, so I usually have enough time to also do my homework before dinner.

September 1, 2007
Ramadan is coming

It is two weeks before Ramadan. My mother is buying nuts, dates and special spices.  During Ramadan, we pray a lot and fast from sunrise to sunset.  We cannot eat anything during the day, not even sips of water. Before the sun rises, we have a pre-dawn meal called sahoor. When the sun sets, we gather at home for iftar – breaking of the fast with dates soaked in milk, or amareddin (apricot juice). We eat torshi (pickles), tehina (sesame seed sauce), salad and baklava. Then we have a short prayer. At the end of Ramadan we celebrate a 3-day festival, called Eid el Fitr. We wear our best clothes and families bake Kaahk cookies, give food to the poor and go to the mosque to pray. My family goes to Muhammad Ali mosque, a well known landmark in Cairo. We also prepare special meals and exchange gifts with friends and relatives.

Everyone works especially hard to do good deeds during Ramadan. My brother and I try extra hard to get along with each other, and be helpful to our parents. 

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, and the holiest month of Islam. It celebrates the month when Allah revealed himself to the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, in 7 AD. During this month, Muslims think about ways that they can improve themselves and come closer to the teachings of the Qur’an.

Muhammad Ail Mosque
  August 11, 2007
My cousin’s wedding

My cousin Sara got married this week. We are staying in Sharm el-Sheikh, on the southern coast of the Sinai Peninsula. The hotel is beautiful, and I am enjoying taking pictures. The water is beautiful, and I have been snorkeling and running on the beach everyday. 

My uncle Fouad is here, and I got to find out more about his latest research. I think archeology is so interesting because you are a detective trying to figure out the past. 

I got to take lots of pictures at the wedding. There was lots of dancing and the men were the wilder bunch (men and women dance in groups, separately). My cousin Sara looked beautiful in her white satin dress and hajib (head covering). (Sara chooses to wear the hajib as a sign of her modesty as a young woman. Not all Muslim women wear them, but many of them do). I really enjoyed seeing so many of my cousins on this side of the family, whom I don’t get to see very often.

The Bride and Groom
  July 26, 2007
International Youth Conference

It was a record high today, 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius). I wish I lived in a building with air conditioning! I miss the air conditioned buildings we were in at the youth conference I went to this past week.

This was my first year at the conference, which is held in a different place in the world each year. This year the conference was in Egypt, and I have been doing very well in all of my subjects, including English, so I got to go. The conference is for students who want to work on projects with other students around the world. It was my first time to live in dormitories away from my parents for 4 nights! I really enjoyed being with the other students, from as far away as Indonesia, Netherlands and the USA. I learned about the projects they are doing in school, and found out that we share a lot of the same interests. We all care about global warming, and want to find ways to stop pollution so the world will be a better place for everyone to live.

Next year the conference will be in Uzbekistan. It is very far away, so I probably will not be able to go unless I get a scholarship. But I can keep in touch with all of my new friends with email!

Cheering on the Lebanese delegation
  June 30, 2007
Summer holiday in Alexandria

School is out and we are on our summer holidays. We are in Alexandria again this year. I’m so excited!

I love the beach, and running on the sand. I also love spending summer days in Alexandria, where we can walk along the Promenade and enjoy the view of the Mediterranean.

This year we visited the catacombs of Kom ash-Shuqqafa for the first time. The tomb was built in a Greco-Roman style with Doric columns and staircases, but the burial themes decorating the walls are Egyptian, featuring the ancient Egyptian gods and figures drawn in the Egyptian style with one leg posed side-facing in front of the other. It was probably built after Alexander the Great came to Egypt in 332 BC (Alexandria is named after him), since it has Roman architectural influence. This is one of the last known underground burial sites following the ancient Egyptian practices, and was discovered when a donkey fell through the roof of the tomb in 1900.

We will probably visit the Bibliotheca Alexandrina again. This is my mom's favorite spot. This modern library was opened in 2002, on the same place where the greatest library in the world stood in 3 AD. The coolest part is the Internet archive. Did you know that they have the largest archive of web pages in the world? They probably have my blog in there somewhere!

Summer, rah!
The new Bibliotheca Alexandria
  May 2, 2007
Pharaoh Ramses the Great

The highlight of the trip so far has been the Great Temple of Abu Simbel, south of Aswan. Did you know that this temple, guarded by the enormous statues of Ramses the Great, was moved 688 feet [210 m] back, and 213 feet [65 m] up from where they were first built on the banks of Lake Nasser? When the High Dam section of the Aswan Dam was started in 1960, the rising water level of Lake Nasser threatened to flood the temples.

The dams have been a great help to Egyptians because now we can control the Nile water level, and allowing it to flood its banks only enough to irrigate crop land as needed. Before the dams were built, the Nile naturally overflowed its banks to fertilize the area around it with rich, silt-filled water, which made Egypt a rich farming country. However, because the flooding often happened without warning, thousands of people often lost their lives every year.

There were many Pharaohs named Ramses, but in Egypt we refer to Ramses II as Ramses the Great. He had the second longest reign of any Pharaoh (67 years), and died in 1213 BC. People say he lived for 96 years and may have fathered 96 sons and 60 daughters! I have heard that he is probably the Pharaoh mentioned in the Christian bible in the book of Exodus. The Ramses statues are 108 feet [33 m] high! These intimidating statues are the kinds of things that maintained the larger than life image of the Pharaoh.

I can’t believe our spring vacation is nearly over and we are going home....

Abu Simbel
  April 26, 2007
Valley of the Kings and Queens

After visiting Giza, we traveled by train south of Cairo, to Luxor and Thebes. This is where the newer tombs of the Pharoahs were built over 3000 years ago.

In school we learned that a Pharaoh is an Egyptian king, regarded as the divine link between the gods and humans. The early Pharaohs were buried in Pyramids, but later they decided that carving out rock caves with hidden entrances would be safer from looters who would rob the treasures and destroy the tombs. This is why some of the tombs, like Tutankhamun, were not discovered until less than 100 years ago.

I love to take pictures. My father does not like to be in pictures. Here he is walking toward the Temple of Hatshepsut with my uncle. My mother doesn’t mind pictures, though, and she even gets a little goofy at times!

The wall murals at the Temple of Hatshepsut are amazing. The carved reliefs were originally painted bright colors. It is amazing that we can still see some of the colors today, over 3000 years later!

Yesterday, we visited the Luxor museum, and outside the museum, we watched as feluccas sailed gracefully on the Nile. Did you know that 96% of Egypt's land is desert? Egyptians live mostly along the Nile, and this is only 4% of land in Egypt. 

I know I already told you that the Nile is the wolrd's longest river but I just looked up how long exactly - it flows for 4,160 miles [6670 km]! It starts at Lake Victoria in Tanzania, and flows through Uganda and Sudan to Egypt, where it ends at Mediterranean Sea east of Alexandria.  It is our nation’s greatest treasure, because without it, we would not be able to live and grow food in our desert climate.

Entry to Temple of Hatshepsut


  April 19, 2007
We’re going to the Pyramids!

Life is so great! Yesterday was my birthday, and today is the first day of our spring holidays! My cousins from Turkey are visiting to celebrate my birthday, and to see the Pyramids.

In three days we will start with the Pyramids at Giza, which are actually tombs of Pharoahs that lived over 4000 years ago. They are the oldest and only surviving Wonder of the Ancient World, considered one of man’s greatest achievements, built around 2500 BC. Egyptians are very proud of these monuments, that attract visitors from all over the world, every year. Did you know that the largest of these pyramids is made of more than 2 million stones? Some of the stones weigh as much as 33,000 lbs [15 tons]!

Giza pyramids from afar
Pyramid stones up close
  March 3, 2007
Tourism is Egypt’s main industry

My father and my uncles work in a factory for dyeing cloth, started by my uncle Ikram. Egypt grows a lot of good cotton that people really like, and making cloth and textiles (such as sheets and towels) for export is a huge industry.

But we learned today in school that the biggest industry in Egypt is actually tourism. The Pyramids (which are burial tombs for the ancient Egyptian Pharoahs) and the Sphinx are the main attractions. Sometimes visitors want to see the pyramids from the Nile, and they sail on the Nile in wooden sailboats called Feluccas, just like the first European visitors did in the 1800s. Feluccas were originally trading boats that moved goods up and down the river, but today tourists are the main passengers.

My parents are planning a trip to the Pyramids when my cousins from Turkey come to visit. I can hardly wait!
  February 12, 2007
Movies and music I like

My father's parents, my uncle and cousins live in our neighborhood. But my cousins Amour and Mona who are closer to my age live in Cairo, but not in our neighborhood. On the weekends, I like to go to visit them. Sometimes we go to the movies together, or listen to music.

  My favorite movies are American action flicks. “Die Hard” is one of the best. Amour and I say lines from the movie to each other all the time.

I like listening to Egyptian pop music. Amr Diab is the best! This year he won the World Music Award for best selling Middle East album. He lives in Cairo, and I hope to see him in concert someday.

From Abu Diab's website
  January 11, 2007
The Great Feast 

The Great Qurban Bairam or Festival of Sacrifice is one of my favorite holidays.  It is a four-day festival that started yesterday (it is always held in the 12th month of the Islamic calendar year). We began with fasting, a pilgrimage (those who are lucky will make the pilgrimage to Mecca) and special prayers, followed by a big feast. 

In Arabic, we call this celebration the
EID AL AL-ADHA. This time helps us remember the trust and faith that Ibrahim (known as Abraham in the Torah and the Christian Bible) showed Allah (God) when he was willing to sacrifice his son Issac. This story is told in the Qur’an.

During this time we celebrate peace and love among all people. We visit relatives, wear new clothes, and children receive gifts from family members. For the feast, families that can afford it will raise and carefully care for an animal in a gentle and loving way, before it is slaughtered. It is customary for families to share 1/3 of their meat with family and friends, and 1/3 to the poor, keeping 1/3 for the family to eat during the Great Feast. It is a special time because everyone eats meat, and we know we are all sharing the same food.

Tomorrow we will have lunch with my uncle Fouad. When I grow up, I want to be an archeologist just like him!
  December 14, 2006
Prayers and peace

We just finished our evening prayers.  Muslims pray five prayers during the day: Fajr (before dawn), Dhuhur (noon), Asr (afternoon), Maghrib (sunset) and Isha (evening). Each time, we face the east, towards Mecca.

Tomorrow is Friday and there is no school, but our family will go to the Mosque for prayers. It is the weekend, and there will be no more school until Sunday! 

The word Islam comes from the Arabic word for Peace. This is why Muslims always greet each other with "Salaam alaykum," (which means "Peace be with you").

My family is Muslim. We follow the teachings of the
Qur’an (the bible for the Islamic faith, called the Koran in English), given by Allah to the Prophet Muhammad. The religion of Islam teaches us to believe in Almighty God (Allah) in heart, soul and deed, similar to the way that people of the Christian and Jewish faiths believe in God. There are 5 Pillars of Islam that help us strengthen our faith: Ramadan (fasting), declaration of Faith, Charity, daily Prayer and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).
  November 23, 2006
School is cool

Cairo is a huge, noisy city. I am very lucky to go to a school on the edge of town. It is like an oasis, with palm trees in the courtyard. My mother is the principal at my school.

I study science, math, social studies, computers, art, gym, Arabic, ancient Egyptian history, and religion (Islam). My best subjects are Math and English. 

Cairo - with Giza pyramids
What can I say about school? I like studying ancient Egyptian history. Stuff that Egyptians invented is really cool! Egyptians invented paper (papyrus), started the first library in Alexandria, and make farming easier by inventing irrigation tools such as Archimedes Screw to draw water up from the river, the sakia, a large wheel with scoops for lifting water (usually driven by a cow or ox), and the shaduf, a lever system with a weight to help lift water easily. They also built the pyramids, which are amazing. People come here from all over the world to visit the Pyramids and see the Nile River, the longest river in the world.

My best friend is Mahmoud Assam. We live in the same neighborhood, but we go to different schools. We like to play football together in the streets in front of our building when we both get home from school. Or sometimes we get together with friends, and play in the courtyard next to the Mosque (Muslim church). We can play here until late in the evening when it is not a school night, since there are lights in the courtyard.

A midnight game
  November 1, 2006
Greetings from Egypt!

Salaam alaykum! Hello, my name is Ahmed! Muslims always greet each other with "Salaam alaykum," (which means "Peace be with you").

I live in a tall concrete apartment building in Cairo, on the second floor. I share a bedroom with my older brother, Amir. Our apartment only has 2 bedrooms, and the other bedroom is for my parents. In our room, Amir and I each have a wall to put up our posters. Mine are mostly music, cool shoes and the Egyptian National Football team.

Cairo is really crowded. Everyone wants to live here because in the desert there is very little water, and it is hard to find food. Most of Egypt is desert, so that makes all of the cities near the Nile very crowded. Plus there are jobs here, so many people come to find work.

I like to run, and I am a good footballer (soccer player). I like to watch and play football. I also like to take pictures. My uncle Fouad gave me a camera last year for my birthday, before our summer holiday in Alexandria.
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