Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

"Midnight at the Oasis" Party Celebrates Sonoma-Aswan Sister City Project

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

"Midnight at the Oasis" Party Celebrates Sonoma-Aswan Sister City Project

Article excerpt

THE SONOMA-Aswan Committee of the Sonoma Sister Cities Association launched its new project with an Aug. 4 fund-raising bash beneath a massive tent at the town's Meritage Restaurant. Sharing the spotlight with camels Kazzy and Hump-free, Maria Muldaur performed her signature 1970s hit song, "Midnight at the Oasis," accompanied by her band, The Oasins.

Guests of honor Ambassador Abderahman Salaheldin, who has served as consul general of Egypt to the Western U.S. since 2004, and his wife, Dr. Thoraya Elkhadrawy, shared in the excitement of this new Egyptian-American venture, the fifth partnering of an Egyptian city with an American one. The diplomatic duo was delighted to see many guests dressed in colorful Egyptian outfits, including beautifully embroidered gallabiyas, keffiyehs and even one red fez.

"Reaching out to each other is what this relationship is all about," Salaheldin told the enthusiastic crowd. "It's about actually knowing about each other and the wishes of both people to connect with a town on the other side of the world."

The project began in April, when the ambassador and his wife met with Sonoma Mayor Joanne Sanders and Sonoma Sister Cities president Bill Boerum. Through the hard work of committee co-chairs Carol Blackman and Sherri Ferris, among others, a formal agreement will be signed in Aswan in November. A delegation of Sonoma residents will be traveling to the Land of the Pharaohs to witness this momentous occasion.

Although located on opposite sides of the globe, the two cities share many commonalities, including an agricultural interest in solar energy and water conservation. Sonoma is a wine-growing giant, while Aswan is famous for its hibiscus plants and the juice of the same name. The communities also look forward to working jointly in the areas of the arts, culture, education, health care and the environment.

Egyptian National Day

Egyptian Consul General and Mrs. Salaheldin hosted more than 500 friends, diplomats and members of California's Arab community at San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts July 23 in a commemoration of the Free Officers Revolution of July 23, 1952.

The ambassador, who is returning to Egypt after his four-year assignment in the U.S., thanked the audience members for their friendship and support during his tenure and urged everyone to visit him in Cairo, where he will assume an interim position as assistant foreign minister for Arab affairs.

Salaheldin noted that through his office's e-mail database he and his staff have been able to reach out to 10,000 Egyptian families living in the U.S. "Connecting Egyptian Americans with their homeland has served the interests of both countries," he said. "Egyptians in California played a prominent role in bringing almost all major IT companies to Egypt."

The diplomat was happy to report that hundreds of American students are attending Egyptian universities, particularly to study Arabic. "Learning about each other is our best hope for a peaceful future and ignorance is our worst enemy," Salaheldin observed. "A better-educated population is our first line of defense against extremism."

Kazzy Cheers Seniors and Patients with In-House Visits

Eight-year-old Kazzy is not just a cute double-humped camel who provided photo ops for guests at the "Midnight at the Oasis" party. …

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