Read the following in sequence or jump to:
Adventures and Sports
Science and Industry
Arts and Culture
Ideas for Creative
Adventures and Sports
games became very popular in the 1920s. The Olympics of 1924 in
Paris may have been a good proof of that for their unprecedented
popularity. Record-breaking athletes were attracting the
attention of people in Europe at the time.
are breaking records everyday in opening ways between distances
previously disconnected. This had national as well as commercial
significance--airliners followed later the airlines that
those adventurers opened. All adventurers, they get enormous
coverage by the countries they connect and specially the country
they belong to. Everybody at the time wished to see one of their
own in the air and in their own planes. Ahmed was watching that
very very clearly indeed and was learning how to fly. He must
have had some ideas on his head when Jimmy Doolittle made on
1922 a coast-to-coast flight (Pueblo Beach, Florida, to San
Diego, California) in under one day. Then one year later, US
Army Lieutenants Kelly and MacReady did non-stop from New York
to San Diego.
About 6 years later, Ahmed himself has been
beaten by a fellow citizen Mohamed Sidqy (Bank employee) in 1930
who flew from Germany to Cairo under what seems at the time to
be an extremely heavy coverage of the Egyptian media that 3
ministers, Prime Minister Al-Nahhas, representative of the
European delegations in Cairo and 25,000 Cairenes went to
receive him in the airport and where Ahmed Shawki the poet
composed specially for him and Mayy Ziyadah said "Other people's
pilots are represented in the air. How long must the skies await
Egyptian eagles?" Unfortunately, Ahmed Bey flying from London
wrecked his plane in Pisa, Italy where he had to stop (and add
to his adventures scars). The excitement could be only explained
to Westerners as their society's when Charles Lindbergh became
first to fly solo non-stop across the Atlantic in May 1927. That
got him a Congressional medal of honor, 100,000 welcome party in
Paris, numerous songs in his name by famous singers and a parade
in the U.S. that drew around 4.5 millions. Egyptians in their
own scale seem to have very much matched that of others
celebrations of their heroes.
1924 was the year the world has seen the
Olympic Games taking place in Paris. America has won by far the
lion's share of gold medals (45) followed by the very new state
of Finland (14) that was declared independent from Russia in
1917. However, it was the Bey's game that attracted the Parisian
streets since Roger Ducret the Champion of the French (third
with 13 Gold Medals) who was the star of the games and the
French national hero with 3 Gold Medals and 2 Silvers.
Ahmed was to represent Egypt in the fencing
game (elmobarza belsheesh المبارزة
بالشيش ) and was representative of Oxford University in
this game at one time when he was studying in Britain. At this
year, Italian and Hungarian competitors took it very seriously
that they took the duel to their borders and stopped only on
spectators intervention after two duelers were injured. Our
--already famous-- Bey must have had a lot to talk about in his
parties around the world when it comes to fencing specially that
he had dueled with Roger Ducret himself.
Middle Photo: Roger Ducret
the French national hero, Left Photo: American Fencing Team to
1924 Olympics, Right Photo: the games.
Hassanein must have been faced in parties
by Americans flaunting their Tarzan. Weissmuller on July
1922, few months before Hassanein arrives to Sollum has broken
an unbelievable record of swimming 100 meters freestyle in under
Johnny Weissmuller USA
American national hero and later most famous Tarzan of Hollywood
However, a Tarzan figure is hardly
befitting of our Egyptian-styled graceful Bey. It must have been
racing cars that captured his imagination. What better than
Henry Seagrave's incredible speed of 370 k/hr on 1929? This must
have been something that captured the imagination of the world
and specially Ahmed Bey.
Golden Arrow Car that
Seagrave used exhibited recently
Science and Industry
We're still at the 20s. Few years ago in
the 1910s, Einstein's theory of general relativity came public.
As revolutionary as it was, it must have been overshadowed by
the events of the Great War. However, in the 1920s it seem to
have fueled further discoveries in quantum mechanics and of
things like the uncertainty principle in molecular physics--a
principle that has fueled further philosophical views of the
On the industrial side of things, TV has
just been invented but not yet produced or programmed for. It
was the Radio that has moved from scientific discovery to major
The prospects were big for that specific
invention. Not only for mass marketing as industrialists soon
noticed, but for its political significance in the
In America, Thomas Edison was gradually
changing the household as people used to know it. His technical
and industrial skills have founded what later became General
Electric. A self-styled inventor but he was really an
industrialist with great sense of markets needs. For instance, he
marketed the phonograph for managers as Dictaphone at
first but quickly recognized it as medium for the distribution
of music. This was his most profitable industrial venture ever.
Everybody must have been buying one of those fashionable
phonographs at the time, and musicians must have jumped on the chance.
Ahmed must have seen those trucks roaming the streets of
Washington near his house.
Starting as a cylinder,
Egyptians still use the word Ostuwana (Arabic for cylinder) for
LPs and CDs. The delivery truck above was a common scene in
American streets in the 1920s.
His trans-continental phone lines were an
incredible achievement like everything he has designed with
market needs in mind. But it must have been his light bulb
called incandescent lamp that must have been a wonder.
Its early shape remains in American culture as the icon
of a good idea up till today.
Probably not as artistic as we use them
today (spotlights and the likes by interior designers) but they
acted like a fascinating item in buildings. Imagine a home that
you can turn all the lamps in one large hall by a click of a
button on the wall, while world royal palaces still uses fire
torches lit and re-lit by hordes of elegant servants. This fact
makes itself significant when you remember how we take many
things now for granted and that even back
in Oxford and Cairo, the Bey must have been studying under the
light of a candle.
Arts and Culture
Generally known --along with 1930s-- as the
inter-War period, they seemed to be times of great
changes in culture and centers of power.
In Europe it was time of recession and
pessimism about economy and the future. Perhaps that is the time
when people feel they need to cheer up and work to change. That
period was time when even a conservative public in Europe
started to accept new revolutionary fashions and technologies.
But the more economics pressure, the more
society responds with new arts and trends.
Women joining the workforce for military
factories in Europe specially in Britain came out with the
intention to do more to break the old molds of Victorianism.
This is the age of Art Deco and flappers (=girls
with eccentric behavior and unusual dresses).
Rosita Forbes (British lady who accompanied
Ahmed in his first expedition ever to Kufra) must have been one
of the new breed that Ahmed didn't see in Britain before the War
and is perhaps a representative example of this wave. However,
it was Gertrude Bell (the so-called Uncrowned Queen of Iraq)
who was a truly politically-influential lady of this age who
left her marks on the map of modern Iraq. This was nothing new
in Egypt too which was not short of the new breed of activist
women such as Hoda Sha3rawy ( هدى
شعراوي ) Safiya Zaghlul (
صفية زغلول ).
The tom-boy, flat-chested and slim-bodied
girly style became the rage in Europe perhaps for fist time in
history but not yet in Egypt.
Petre (left) British racer who in the 1920 has lapped in speeds
reaching 215 k/h. It stands out as very early daring lady when
compared to Danica Patrick (right) American in the 2000s.
Who could believe that at those turbulent
times, Tut-Ankh-Amon's tomb was discovered and its treasures
uncovered by Howard Carter and his British sponsor Lord
Carnarvon. The world over must have shushed-up to listen to this
Pharaoh's silver trumpet when blown in one of those new Radio
programs of the time.
The astonishingly rich burial treasures of
the young --and perhaps insignificant-- Pharaoh confirmed all
the legendary richness that Egypt was famed for in ancient and
medieval times, and up till those days. On November 26th, and
only 25 days before Ahmed Bey lands in Sollum to start the
expedition, Carter and Carnarvon became the first to enter the
Left: Carter and Lord
Carnarvon opening tomb in November 1922 few days before Ahmed
leaves to Sollum and less than a year after Egypt's limited
Independence. Right: Howard Carter in 1925.
the Great War fashions became open to quick alterations. Even the
discovery of Tut-Ankh-Amon's legendary treasures have affected
costumes and from 1923 and on, anything from ancient Egyptian
styles was fashionable among ladies.
For gentlemen, the hat of course was still
the rule in Europe but never in Egypt that was still using
Tarbouche (called Fez in English), although bare-headed were starting to appear.
Generally slimmer figures were in fashion which suited the Bey
just perfectly along with gloves, canes, and of course the
The specially-tough "explorer's" pocket
watch bought from England for Hassanein Bey's astro-navigational
calculations during the expedition must have featured
prominently for the parties he was invited to.
If it looks like anything I know, Hassanein
Bey's site from here on seems like a background research for a a
movie or a novel. When I see his life with so much richness, I think there could be a good movie dedicated for
several major events of this important man. Action, romance,
historicity, physical prowess, exotism, etc. etc. are not lacking at all. If you do use
it for this purpose, a note about your source (SaharaSafaris.org) would be