Posts Tagged ‘Nile’

The High Dam & the “General Good”—السد العالى و المنافع العمومية

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

The following is a slight modification of my in-class essay for Dr. Rick Tutwiler’s class on the Nile river. The question was quite simply, “Should the Aswan High Dam have been built?” (the “general good” in the title is a reference to Rifa’a Rifa’ al-Tahtawi’s equation of the notion of “the general good” with that of “industriousness”): (more…)

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Mega-projects on the Nile—مشاريع هائلة في النيل

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Toshka

A post on “mega-projects on the Nile” can perhaps best be introduced by pointing out the differences between the English and the Arabic versions of the term “mega-project”. The English version is a strange neologism which, according to Merriam-Webster, arose in 1976. “Mega”, literally, is of course a simple multiplication of the unit which follows it by 1,000,000 (or 1,048,576 in the context of data storage). Colloquially, it simply means “enormous” or “gigantic”, but its literal multiplicative meaning should not be ignored. Similarly هائل (ha’il) can also mean “gigantic”, but there is no arithmetic involved, and its other meanings are instructive. According to Hans Wehr, the word comes from the verb هول (haul), to frighten, scare, terrify, appall, horrify, strike with terror. The entry for the adjectival form then reads thus:

هائل—ha’il: dreadful, frightful, terrible, horrible, appalling, ghastly, awful; huge, vast, formidable, gigantic, prodigious, tremendous, stupendous; extraordinary, enormous, fabulous, amazing, astonishing, surprising; grim, hard, fierce (battle, fight)

To blend the English and the Arabic, mega-projects can be seen as the public-works version of “shock and awe”, rendered terrible not by their incalculability, but, in fact, by the enormity of their numerical exactitude, the triumph of rational order over “silent nature.” (more…)

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Nile water quality management—رقابة جودة الماء النيلي

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Nile-02

Today we had a visit from Edward Smith, a professor in AUC’s Construction and Environmental Engineering department. He informed us about the particulars of pollution and water quality management on the Nile through a very well-organized lecture. Almost too organized. (more…)

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Nile Cruise—رحلة النيل

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

luxor2_05

Embarrassing as this fact is, this was my second cruise on the Nile in only a couple months. It’s shockingly easy to live a posh middle-class lifestyle in this country with the right connections and a modest (by US standards) income. But this is not what I wanted to talk about (hopefully I’ll get up the gumption to be that reflexive about my place in this country in a later post). This cruise was part of the class on the Nile River that I and Adrienne are in. I’ve written extensively about the Nile cruise previously, here, here and here, with pictures from the trip in four previous posts (1, 2, 3, 4) so I’ll be keeping this somewhat short and condensing the four-day trip into one entry. (more…)

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The Nilometer and Egyptian Museum—المنيل و المتحف المصري

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

From Nilometer floor

Our trip to the Nilometer and the Egyptian Museum was quite different than the one the previous day to the Egyptian Agricultural Museum. The Egyptian Museum is a stop on pretty much every tourist’s itinerary and is hence tended to by the government with all due care. I had been told that the Egyptian Museum was underwhelming and aged and dirty, but this was not my impression, perhaps because of my experience the previous day. The Egyptian museum lacked the smell of mothballs, the signs were legible, many of the displays were vacuum sealed (a rather more effective form of preservation than mothballs, I’d suspect) and we were blessed with Chahinda Karim as a tour guide. (more…)

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Egyptian Agricultural Museum—متحف الزراعي المصري

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

Dead animals exhibit

Museums are interesting creatures in general, but they seem to become even more so with a constrained budget. The lack of polish tends to bring the building blocks and construction methods—material and ideological—into relief. It’s difficult to focus on the other world into which one is being transported when the vehicle is backfiring and the transmission sounds like it’s about to drop. (more…)

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The barrages at al-Qanatir—السدود في القناطر

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

Damietta dredge

On Sunday, I went on a field-trip with the small AUC class devoted to the study of the River Nile. The destination was al-Qanatir (القناطر), the place where the Nile splits off into the Damietta and Rosetta (or Rashid) branches, marking the beginning of the Nile Delta. (more…)

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The River Nile—نهر النيل

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

Red Sea & Nile

AUC has a long winter break, from mid-December until the beginning of February, and a short intermediate session between the semesters, so I decided to take one of the classes being offered, not having much opportunity to travel anyway. That class is a course through the Middle East Studies department on the River Nile. It is an interdisciplinary class, weaving together perspectives from anthropology, political science, Egyptology, history, geology, development studies and even a bit of engineering. One of the requirements of the course is keeping a daily journal related to the class and the various field trips we go on. I’ll be keeping that journal on this blog. I hope you all will indulge me. (more…)

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