The Swedish Embassy in Cairo hosted an event on 11 December to celebrate the birth anniversary of the Egyptian Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz, in addition to a photography exhibition by Mohamed Hegazy.
The ceremony was attended by a large number of public and cultural figures, including Huda Naguib Mahfouz, the daughter of the Egyptian novelist; the family of renowned photographer Mohamed Hegazy; CEO of Dar Al-Shorouk Foundation Ibrahim Al-Moallem; researcher and founder of El-Da7ee7 channel on YouTube, Ahmed El Ghandour; and the CEO of the Swedish company for audio books Storytel in Egypt.
Swedish Ambassador Håkan Emsgård delivered the opening speech of the ceremony, during which he stressed the importance of the Nobel Prize, expressing his appreciation for its founder, the Swedish inventor and chemist Alfred Nobel, and hailing Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz.
“Mahfouz was driven to international fame in 1988, when he became the only Arab to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.” said Ambassador Emsgård
The Nobel Foundation wrote in the prize motivation: “who, through works rich in nuance – now clear-sighted realistic, now evocatively ambiguous – has formed an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind.”
Ambassador Emsgård added: “By his books, Naguib Mahfouz brought us all together by narrating different cultures.”
During the ceremony, more than 15 photos were displayed, which revealed the personal life of Naguib Mahfouz and the rare intimate moments in his life.
”These photos are a documentation of his daily life on the street, at the office, and at home. Mohamed Hegazy was the only photographer allowed inside the writer’s house,” said Aly Hegazy.
Moreover, Storytel presented a part of its audio book series “ El-Da7ee7a” by Ahmed El Ghandour, which highlighted the life of Mahfouz, navigating through his childhood and the cultural environment that surrounded him, as he used to visit museums, watch Charlie Chaplin’s films, and attend Naguib Rihani’s and Ali al-Kassar’s plays.
El Ghandour said that Naguib Mahfouz’s masterpiece “Harafish” had the greatest impact on the young vlogger.
Ibrahim El Moallem commented: “I am honored to speak before you today in celebration of the birthday of the pioneer and innovator of the Arabic Novel, not only as his publisher for 35 years, 20 of which were during his lifetime, but more importantly as a reader of Naguib Mahfouz’s works.”
He added: “Sweden is indeed a beautiful and peaceful country that for more than 120 years has amazingly embodied the concept of ’soft power’, acknowledging the genius of humankind and man’s ability to create, invent, discover, and lead the road to peace by granting the Nobel Prize which, along with millions of people worldwide, I look forward to year after year.”