A glimpse of the grand opening in Alexandria

The day of the official opening of the new library in Alexandria, October 16, dawned in the Egyptian port city with policemen everywhere. The library is a gift from President Hosni Mubarak to the people of Egypt. Once, the pharaohs raised pyramids so that their names would go down in history. Today, Egypt has acquired an impressive monument dedicated to knowledge, information, communication, to books as well as to technology, and to the cultural heritage of a number of museums preserved within its portals. The building itself is a wonderful example of modern architecture that is a tribute to the ancient religion of the Egyptians. President Mubarak funded this majestic achievement under the auspices of UNESCO. His wife Suzanne, president of the library’s board, of which Greece’s Marianna Vardinoyianni is a member, hosted a glittering ceremony attended by dignitaries including Greek President Costis Stephanopoulos, French President Jacques Chirac, Queen Sofia of Spain, and Queen Rania of Jordan. Otherwise, life went on as usual in the city by the sea, whenever it was possible to avoid the area where strict security measures were in force and where thousands of Egyptian children dressed in ancient, pharaonic garb sang the «Ode to Joy» from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Fishermen who tie up their boats in the nearby port went walking with their families near the library, which is almost surrounded by water. The night after the official opening resounded to the echoes of Greek poetry and music at a concert by Dimitris Papadimitriou. Fortunately this time the dove of peace protected the opening, although the isolation that surrounded the library dulled the joy of this wonderful revival of a library in a city built by Alexander the Great, who gave it his name.