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EGYPT - Oct. 16 - Bibliotheca Alexandrina Opened.

Pres. Mubarak and other dignitaries from around the world inaugurate the library of Alexandria. The new Bibliotheca Alexandrina cost $225m and took nearly 30 years to create. Cairo has paid for more than half of the project, with UNESCO leading a fund-raising drive that drew about $65m from the Arab World and $33m from EU countries and companies. Mubarak says the library symbolises cultural dialogue and humanity's common heritage, adding: "It is a call to terminate violence, tension and all sorts of terrorism". Joining him in the library's conference hall were French Pres. Jacques Chirac, the queens of Jordan, Sweden and Spain; and the presidents of Romania, Greece and Ivory Coast as well as ministers and ambassadors. Mona Makram Ebeid, a former MP and professor of political science at the American University of Cairo, says: "There is a need today to remind people that Egypt is not just a flag-waving tribe. It's very timely because of all the attacks against Arabs, and putting all Arabs in the same basket. Beyond the 'band of terrorists', there's a great civilization there". Still others say that it is Mubarak's folly, a grand public work to stand as his legacy, as the Aswan Dam was for Nasser. Abdel Moneim Said, director of Al Ahram Centre for Strategic and Political Studies, says: "For sure it's part of his legacy. It's an Egyptian thing. There are a lot of pyramids around. He likes big projects". On the whole, however, Egyptians are happy to have some good news in a country suffering from a faltering economy and unnerved by US threats of war against Iraq, even though there are no more than 250,000 books, many donated, in a library built for 4 million. (The ancient Alexandrian library may have had as many as 700,000 items. It was founded by Ptolemy I, Alexander the Great's successor, in 306 B.C.).
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7EGYP
Date:Oct 19, 2002
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