Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine el-Aref)
Baron Empain's legendary palace is to be converted into an international cultural centre and museum after restoration, Nevine El-Aref reports
When Edouard Empain arrived to Egypt in 1904 to construct a railway line linking the lower Egyptian city of Mansoura to Matariya on the far side of Lake Manzala, he became entranced by the country and its distinguished civilisations. Although his company, S A des Chemins de Fer de la Basse-Egypte, failed to generate the intended project, Empain remained in Egypt and married an Egyptian, Yvette Boghdadi. Two years later he established the Cairo Electric Railways and the Heliopolis Oases Company which laid out the plans for the new town of Heliopolis 10 kilometres to the northwest of central Cairo.
When it was finished, Heliopolis was a luxurious and leisured suburb with elegant villas with wide terraces, apartment buildings, tenement blocks with balconies, hotels and facilities as well as recreational amenities including a golf course, racetrack and large park.