Egypt Independent

Let’s make Zewail’s project happen



I recently received two letters, one from Washington and the other from Maadi, both addressing the same issue.

One of the senders was Ashraf el-Fiqqi, an Egyptian physician who lives in Washington and works at the National Cancer Institute there. Although around 10,000 km separate Egypt from the US, el-Fiqqi seems to be well aware of what is happening in Egypt. In fact, he seems to have a clearer view of things than we do. The one thing he really wishes for nowadays is to see all the heated talk about Zewail’s project produce concrete results. El-Fiqqi was most saddened by the fact that nothing has been achieved since Zewail won his Nobel Prize, eleven years ago.

El-Fiqqi’s disappointment deepens as he watches, directly from his desk at work, NASA sending a spacecraft to the international space station. The spacecraft’s journey into space is transmitted live on NASA’s website and the whole world, not only the US, can follow the exciting journey hour-by-hour. Much to his frustration, when he turns his attention homeward, Fiqqi sees Egypt immersed in battles over butane cylinders, while the world is transfixed by the amazing coverage of the spacecraft.

El-Fiqqi proposes that Al-Masry Al-Youm create a website for the Zewail project. This website should receive ideas for the project, both from inside and outside Egypt, so that in the end, something can be doneto help Egypt achieve progress.

Samir Riyad Matta, a resident of Maadi, Egypt, and the sender of the second letter agrees with el-Fiqqi. Matta says that Zewail’s project has three axes: the state, which will grant the permits and approvals; civil society, which will provide the financing; and Zewail himself, the owner of the idea. Each of these should give the maximum possible to help the project materialize.

Matta also proposes that an account be opened to finance the project, so that every citizen can contribute to it. He suggests that the minimum deposit be set at LE100, and he even goes on to say that he has LE5000 ready to deposit himself.

The enthusiasm for Zewail’s project extends all the way from Maadi to Washington, and the desire for achievement is equally strong. The two letters represent a genuine sample of the general mood of Egyptians. But the question is whether we will be able to translate such ideas into something concrete.

We should seize the opportunity to make the project happen. An opportunity like this only knocks once.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.