His Excellency, Dr. Abdel Meguid
Co-Chairman, Los Angeles Division
American Committee for the Weimar institute of Science
July 5-7th., 1981 Los Angeles, California USA
I am very honored tonight to have the opportunity of formally introducing His Excellency, Dr. Abdel Meguid, who is the Deputy Prime Minister for Economics and Finance of the Arab Republic of Egypt. Dr. Meguid has been noted for (I don't know whether he admits it or not) being one of the most important men in his country who wields more power with respect to Egypt's economy than virtually anyone except his great President. He is only 50 years of age, so he is a young man in this group.
Dr. Meguid is directly responsible for finance, planning, economics and trade. Since his appointment he has proposed the first budget surplus in modern times and announced radical changes in the banking and trade laws -- I appreciate the banking, particularly. Egyptians and foreigners alike have been amazed, sometimes confused, but certainly all recognize his brilliance.
However, this dynamic individual thrives on controversy. He enjoys debates. he handles 3 hour queston-and-answer sessions with a spectacular grasp of theory and detail. He claims to be a pragmatist and he is certainly no Friedmanite. There is no doubting his academic credentials. After graduating with a degree in Commerce for the University of Alexandria and Studying in England, Dr. Meguid received a Doctorate in Economic Planning from he University of Texas where he was a Visiting Professor in 1962. Until May of 1980, he specialized in macro-economic planning, serving twice as Planning Minister and was mainly responsible for the 1978-82 plan of Egypt. He has extensive international contacts from two stints at the United Nations, and has written, believe this of not, at the age of 50, 24 volumes on the economic and social structure of Egypt. He is basically West -oriented. The most impressive thing to me is this: two years ago when I was in Egypt, after a mission to Weimar, I visited the great Aswan Dam. I was amazed just the other day in reading the material on Dr. Meguid to now realize that he was the Director General the the Aswan Dam (at the age of 35). So this is a man of great credentials, great ability and, on behalf of Weimar and the Los Angeles community, we are indeed honored to have with us tonight His Excellency, Dr. Abdel Meguid.
H. E. DR. ABDEL MEGUID
Deputy Prime Minister for Economics and Finance
United Arab Republic of Egypt
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, I honestly did not know so much about myself until you told me. But you know something similar happened to me about 20 years ago when a very dear friend of mine who used to be the editor of Time Magazine, he died two years ago, came to visit us in Egypt. I received a call from Cairo - I was in Aswan at the time - from the intelligence department of Egypt, the CIA of Egypt. They told me - the gentleman who is going to come to see you - don't talk politics to him, economic, or High Dam because he is anti-Egypt, imperialist, you know etc., etc. I was a young man at the time - I'm still a young man - and I was building my career and I thought that to talk to the Editor of Time Magazine was an opportunity to advance myself a little I felt he would be impressed, accompanied by the public relations director, to see the High Dam. it was very hot, 104 degrees in the shade. By the time he came back he was sweating like anything, he was tired and he said: "You are doing a wonderful job on the High Dam. But how in Heaven's name are you going to make use of that huge amount of water?" "With that type of heat and the evaporation, you are going to lose one half of the water that you are going to stop behind the dam."
AN ORIGINAL SOLUTION
At that time, being a nationalist and still listening to the CIA of Egypt, I said, "Yes, but you know I don't want to talk about the High Dam. We do have a solution to this problem."
He said, "Oh yes? What?" I said, "Well, we have some experts from Australia, from the U.S. and from the UK and they suggested that we put a film of oil on the water of the Dam that will stop the evaporation. You (here tonight) are scientists - you know know this." "But we as Egyptians under President Nassar - and I was enamored with him at the time, he later on exiled me - we have our solution. We will not put a film of oil on the water because we want the lake of the dam to be a major fishery operation for Egypt, and the oil would kill all the fish. That's a scientific fact also. So he said, "what are you going to do?" I said, "we are going to cover the lake with ping pong balls. (By the way, with my wife and child this week-end I am on my way to Peking; and that was long before ping pong balls and China, long before President Nixon.) He said, "what do you mean" Are you serious?" I said, "yes. they are white, so they reflect the sun. They are round and no two balls would be on top of each other and between three balls there is a hole which allows the water, the oxygen of the air to come in, and therefore the fish will survive and therefore we will have a fishery operation." He said, "are you serious?" I said, "yes. Can you imagine inventing skiing on ping pong balls? Can you imagine yourself in a motor boat with the ping pong balls going 'tack, tack, tack,' and after you go past they all come back nice and smooth?" I swear to you that I made it up while I was sitting with him. But he took it seriously because I challenged him as I changed the great scientists who are attached to the great center of the Weimar Institute as to the scientific fact that if you cover a large space of water with ping pong balls you drop evaporation by at least one half, and you drop evaporation by at least 10 fold." His only worry was, how many ping pong balls we'd need to cover it. So I told him, it's not a problem. "We could always have buckets of liquid plastics heated with a little motor engine attached to a water pump that we used to have in the countryside of Egypt. And a bucket will heat with a little engine - other scientist would help me with this - and it would continuously draw, throw balls. You can do this for about 10 years and by 10 years the lake would be covered. We ended up by his saying that the moment he landed in New York, he would buy up every possible share he could get hold of in any company which produces ping pong balls." But you know it's not just ping pong balls that I was talking about. At that time in '65, '64, 65 we were living under a tremendous inward-looking society. A society that refused to think otherwise. A society that if it thought to put a film of oil on the lake would put a film of oil on the lake.
THE INTELLECTUAL CAGE
What I am trying to tell him - and I don't think he understood until ten years later - was that I was trying to get out of the intellectual cage which we have been subjected to in Egypt; and that I was trying to think in terms of the non-traditional - so different and so difficult to come by if you are subjected to a society where traditions and ideology become the major captivating factors. We were trying to get out of this, and it was really difficult. Within two years, I was exiled from Egypt for the simple reason that I didn't think the Dam could be managed the we were managing it. Believe me I was yearning for a center of excellence which would be able to run the High Dam. That center did not exist in Egypt at the time and I did not know about the Weimar Institute either at that time. "Later on I did, when to my surprise most of my writings had been translated into Hebrew. I hope sometime you will read them, for I don't read Hebrew It reads very well in Arabic by the way.) The sense that I want to convey - my great hope and excitement - of what I had been doing in Egypt and what we are doing today essentially is this: without Science there is no Society. Without an intellectual atmosphere and environment, society is dead. And we know that only too well. For a country with 7,000 years of history - to make a statement like this - this is a tremendous confession.
"WE CHERISH IT, WE LOVE IT"
We look therefore, to a Weimar Institute in the Middle East with great pride. It doesn't matter whether it's in Israel or in Persia, it doesn't matter whether in Kuwait or in Egypt. To us, in Egypt, the Middle East is one. And Israel is very much part of the Middle East. We cherish it, we love it and we mean that. (I need some water from the High Dam, if I may.) Now let me repeat this, We love it and we cherish it and we consider the center of excellence which the Weimar Institute represents for Israel does represent us all. After all Israel and Egypt have been very close since the dawn of time. In fact I have a theory about this and I share it with a gentleman or a scientist called Velikovsky. Do you know him? A few of you do. What I perceive the Weimar Institute has to do is to provide the under-pinning of a society that can lead in not only the Middle East but beyond the Middle East - hopefully not just within the boundaries of Israel but also beyond those boundaries. I look forward to a day when we in Egypt have a branch of the Weimar Institute in the form of an arid zone, agricultural development center as we have been discussing in Egypt with an Israeli friend of mine, a gentleman by the name of Raanan Weitz of whom I am very fond and greatly respect.
CAMP DAVID CANNOT DIE
But science alone is not enough. We need to have the purity of heart and understanding of humanity. I was very upset recently when people kept asking me: What will happen now that the Camp David is dead? Carter is out, Mr. Begin might be out - I hope doesn't get out but that's a personal reactions. What will happen? What I wanted to say was this: Camp David is not a treaty. It is not a piece of paper. It is not the signature of three great men. It's a way of thinking. It's an embodiment of a stage which humanity has reached. It's a stage where humanity, mankind, have decided that peace carries a solution to the problems and not war. For 7,000 years or maybe more, human beings have not understood that concept. And I think three great men sat in a very quiet place called Camp David and forged a document.... that we as human beings, men and women, forget our politics and our religion. That document speaks for all of us. It says that we can solve problems without killing each other. As such, Ladies and Gentlemen, Camp David cannot die. Camp David cannot be thought of as, well "What do we do next?" It is a stage we have reached. We are all very proud of it and even if it doesn't lead to further development, and I am happy and I think you all ought to feel the same that we all have lived in the time when such a document was written or signed by these three men.
FORGING OUR ALLIANCE
You know, three weeks ago, I attended a seminar in Washington. And we were thinking about Middle East developments. With thanks to tonight's Chairman - Egypt is doing very well. We do have a balanced budget, despite all odds and you know we are the envy of the Reaganites and the Browns and others. I am very happy to say that I was responsible, or at least I was the instrument when this all took place. But tonight I am thinks much more of the future. We really need to think in terms of providing the reason the master maneuver, the power to develop a society of the Middle East where Egypt and Israel together can do a great deal. And we can. In all fields. I don't have to spell it out very openly but I think I would like to leave your imagination to go in whichever direction, because it's true in all directions. If we can develop a powerful institutional underpinning to the friendship and the peace treaty between Egypt-Israel. I think we will have done mankind a great deal of service. I'm not saying this just to keep Egypt and Israel in good shape economically, or to enable the Israelis and the Egyptians to live better off than they are today, but it's precisely so that the Californians and the New Yorkers and the Washingtonians can have their flow of oil coming through. I think between Egypt and Israel, we can do a great deal to insure such a flow. The stability of the Middle East is very much a function of the sense of the bond between the two countries. And this is a new thought that must develop beyond Camp David. If we think of the two countries, our two countries - not the U.S. - Israel and Egypt, together moving in a direction which I think President Sadat had outlined very clearly to everyone - And I know he means it, I work with him, I'm his Deputy: He means it - if we can sustain that momentum for maybe four or five years we can forge an alliance that can insure the flow of oil to the west. What does it cost? If I take out retirement insurance, I probably would pay 2 percent, three percent of my income so as to enjoy a decent life, after I get a pension. Three percent? With oil at $33 a barrel that's a dollar - three percent of $33 is $1.00. So make the oil $34. That extra dollar we should put aside as an insurance premium for the stability of Western civilization. For the stability of the Middle East. That's not much. With prices of oil going down that additional dollar is not really that much. But it would mean something like seven to ten billion dollars annually. We in Israel and Egypt, can do wonders with that type of money. It's a thought I would like to leave with you, to think about it; and I'm not a dreamer, although I do dream a great deal. But I think we are coming very close to a point of time where the alliance of the two countries should move in a positive direction.
LOOK, YOU GUYS, WE CAN DO IT
We have been on the defensive all the time. We have been trying to defend our position with Arab countries. Israel has been trying to defend it's position with Israel. But the time has come for us both to come out to the world and say, "look, you guys, we can do it and we mean business." That alliance is the sort of thing I'd like to ask you to cherish and to nurture and to help lobby for. With this opportunity - at this Weimar Institute evening where I am really very privileged and honored to be amongst you - I felt I would be paying homage and a tribute to the great men who have made the Weimar Institute what it is. I only pray that I will be able to contribute as much as I can, however modest that contribution will be. Ladies and Gentlemen, I love you all and thank you very much.
PROFESSOR MICHAEL SELA
President, The Weimar Institute of Science
"THE PROMISE OF SCIENCE - AND IT'S FULFILLMENT"
For many reasons, it is indeed a very great pleasure for me to be with you this evening. Most of all, perhaps, because this festive occasion affords me the opportunity of directly bring to you the collective greetings of the Weimar Institute community, and of telling you something of our work, our aspirations, and what I deeply believe the Institute - in it's inmost essence - represents both in Israel itself and in the world in general. Before I do so, however, I few words regarding the welcome presence here of your most distinguished Guest of Honor. The peace treaty signed - only 26 months ago - between Israel and Egypt has already yielded a far more substantial and varied harvest than may generally be known, including a terminology of its own and a much used new Hebrew word, normalizatsia, that, I believe requires no translation!.........