A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, August 3, 2015

Suez Openings, Then and Now

I will be talking more this week, as Egypt celebrates the grand opening of the new, enlarged Suez Canal, about the original celebrations staged by Khedive Isma‘il in 1869. Admittedly, Isma‘il's big party bankrupted Egypt and eventually brought about the British occupation. The current government is inviting plenty of world leaders seeking to emulate Isma‘il's invitation to the crowned heads of Europe. Below, a painting of the Ottoman Sultan, Emperor Franz-Josef of Austria-Hungary and Empress Eugénie of France at the opening ceremonies.
Most crowned heads today are figureheads, outside the Arab world, and there have been at least a few missteps in the ramp-up to the opening ceremonies.  

MadaMasr has a list of "Five Mishaps in Promoting and Securing the New Suez Canal" (so don't attack me as the snark is theirs). One of the "mishaps" listed are these, uh, somethings in front of the Mugamma‘ in Tahrir Square:
OH MY GOD WHAT ARE THOSE THINGS? Giant inflated Teddy Bears? WHY? Social media has compared them to the marshmallow man in the first GhostBusters film or the character in the horror film Chucky.

I hope these ... rather disturbing things are indeed, in MadaMasr's term, a mere "mishap."

In contrast I might note this, which if somewhat over the top,  at least looks delicious if fattening:

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