Egypt Independent: Life Style-Main news en Early winter sales up to 70% surprise citizens <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Citizens were unexpectedly surprised with sales up to 70 percent on Cairo streets in the middle of the winter season.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Recession was the secret behind these sudden cuts on winter clothing as shop owners confirmed.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;It is the first time this year we announce early discounts, due to recession on market. People now deal with clothes as a type of accessories and only buy it in case of necessity,&quot; said Abdel Rahman Gouda, a shop owner.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We thought that the New Year holiday, 7 January, would activate the market. But our expectations were dashed.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;We decided to make early discount cuts because goods filled the stores.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Gouda added sellers resorted to discounts as they had other financial commitments including the payment of salaries to workers, rents and electricity bills.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Hany Mosalem meanwhile said he was against early sales as it would be in vain in light of the weak purchasing power on market.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Mosalem pointed out that the market movement has changed over the past four years.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm</em></div> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:51:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2443409 at sites/default/files/photo/2011/12/15/25658/street_vendor_selling_clothes_in_cairo.jpg Walking helps keep brain young <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>Everyone knows that walking limbers the aging body, but did you know it keeps the mind supple as well?</p><p>Research shows that walking can actually boost the connectivity within brain circuits, which tends to diminish as the grey hairs multiply.</p><p>&quot;Patterns of connectivity decrease as we get older,&quot; said Dr. Arthur F. Kramer, who led the study team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.</p><p>&quot;Networks aren&#39;t as well connected to support the things we do, such as driving,&quot; he said. &quot;But we found as a function of aerobic fitness, the networks became more coherent.&quot;</p><p>Kramer&#39;s walking study, which was published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, tracked 70 adults from 60 to 80 years old over the course of a year. A toning, stretching, strengthening group served as a control against which to evaluate the previously sedentary walkers.</p><p>&quot;Individuals in the walking group, the aerobics training group, got by far the largest benefits,&quot; he said, and not just physically.</p><p>&quot;We also measured brain function,&quot; said Kramer, whose team used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine brain networks. A group of 20-to-30-year olds were tested for comparison.</p><p>&quot;The aerobic group also improved in memory, attention and a variety of other cognitive processes,&quot; Kramer said. &quot;As the older people in the walking group became more fit, the coherence among different regions in the networks increased and became similar to those of the 20-yr olds,&quot; Kramer explained.</p><p>But the results did not happen overnight. Effects in the walking group were observed only after they trained for 12 months. Six-month tests yielded no significant trends.</p><p>The findings come as no surprise to Dr. Lynn Millar, an expert with the American College of Sports Medicine. She said while walking might seem like a simple activity, the brain is actually working to integrate information from many different sources.</p><p>&quot;When we walk we integrate visual input, auditory input, as well as input that&#39;s coming from joints and muscles regarding where the foot is, how much force, and things like that &quot; said Millar, a professor of Physical Therapy at Andrews University, in Berrien Springs, Michigan.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s that old concept: if you don&#39;t use it you lose it,&quot; she said. &quot;In order for something to be beneficial we need to do it repetitively, and walking is a repetitive activity.&quot;</p><p>Millar, author of &quot;Action Plan for Arthritis,&quot; said while some changes are inevitable with age, they don&#39;t have to happen as quickly as they do in some people.</p><p>&quot;We know reaction time gets slower as we age, but activity is a big modifier,&quot; she said, &quot;so if we do trip we&#39;ll be able to get that leg out and catch ourselves.&quot;</p><p>Kramer, who also works with the military and people with disabilities, continues to work on mediating the negative effects of aging with lifestyle choices.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re interested in understanding brain plasticity but we&#39;re also interested in doing something about it,&quot; he said. &quot;We can wait for that wonder drug or we can do something today.&quot;</p> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:27:00 +0000 Reuters 2443423 at sites/default/files/photo/2013/01/17/36/cairorunn.jpg From Minya to Abu Dhabi: The success story behind al-Edwa’s first palm dates cluster <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><p>&ldquo;Participating in one of the world&rsquo;s largest palm date exhibitions in Abu Dhabi back in December and selling our local products to an international community was definitely our personal and professional highlight of the year 2014,&rdquo; says Ashraf Saleh, date farmer from the village of al-Gayyat in al-Edwa, Minya governorate, and one of the founders of the first palm dates cluster in his region.</p><p>&ldquo;Exactly one year ago we used to sell our dates to local merchants for just LE2 per kilo. Having improved our production, processing, and marketing techniques, we are now selling our newly designed half-kilo date box for up to LE20.&rdquo;</p><p>The success story of al-Edwa&rsquo;s date cluster originally stemmed from the idea of joining forces between HAYAT agronomists and local date farmers from al-Gayyat and Mansheyyet Halfa villages, in efforts to root out the destructive impacts of red palm weevil, a malicious pest, on palm tree health and date production.</p><p>HAYAT is one of the latest projects, that falls under the umbrella of UN Industrial Development Organization, aims at providing the underprivileged a new life to start of their own by providing extensive, vocational training and explore.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;El-Edwa alone hosts more than 43 thousand palm trees. Yet approximately 30% of our palm heritage is infected by the red palm weevil. The weevil larvae feed on the tissues inside the palm trunk which often leads to complete tree death,&rdquo; Farag Saad, chairperson of the al-Edwa date cluster, explains.</p><p>&ldquo;While a healthy tree can produce between 90 and 125 kilograms of dates a year, our infected palm trees barely produced 50 kilograms annually. In certain times we even had to burn some trees to the ground to avoid the pest from going viral.&rdquo;</p><p>Atef Elewa, a researcher of the Agricultural Research Center in Cairo, came up with a local, successful invention of a simple hydraulic machine saving more than 400 palm trees from uprooting and disposing. &nbsp;</p><p>The project was taken into the next level by HAYAT. Around 50 agronomists from al-Minya governorate and more than 150 farmers from al-Edwa underwent a hands-on training scheme on pesticide action mechanisms specifically targeted at preventing and disinfesting the red palm weevil.</p><p>In an effort to create sustainable job opportunities for the palm workers and their families, HAYAT provided palm tree climbers the know-how ingenuity to treat the infested plants in a professional, safe manner as part of HAYAT&rsquo;s integrated approach to involve all the community members with the combating process.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We thereby ensured that the farmers themselves pay for a service they benefit from and at the same time we managed to secure sustainable livelihoods for the palm workers,&rdquo; Ahmed Amin, HAYAT Horticulture Production Consultant, clarifies.</p><p>To add to the market value of their date processing, 30 farmers from El-Gayyat and Mansheyyet Halfa formed an alliance in August 2014 participating in a practice-oriented study tour by HAYAT program.</p><p>Within few months, the al-Edwa date cluster farmers succeeded in elevating their post-harvesting applications including the washing, grading and sorting, fumigation, drying/dehydration, ripening and proper storage of the dates.</p><p>Solid date packages (0.75 kg boxes) were laid out by HAYAT as an in-kind contribution from the project to provide a presentable packaging in a bid to boost appropriate market-access for the El-Edwa cluster dates.</p><p>The Edwa cluster also worked on adopting efficient marketing plan through labeling its date products &#39;Tomoor al-Hayat&#39; (Hayat Dates) and setting up a Facebook page to disseminate information about the cluster&rsquo;s date products and upcoming events to reach out to as much potential clients as possible.</p><p>&#39;Tomooor al-Hayat&#39; was met with a very positive response in its kick-off step in trade fairs and exhibitions during the celebrations of the United Nations Day on 24 October 2014 in Cairo, followed by a bigger success in the Emirates International Date Palm Festival in Abu Dhabi, the largest date exhibition worldwide.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the immediate outcomes of the few date fairs we joined in 2014 is that we received many concrete business offers from Egyptian and international purchasers from the Arab Gulf region.&nbsp; We are now in negotiation with Carrefour and Hyper One retail chains who requested us to send some samples of our dates for testing&rdquo;, Saad points out.</p><p>Plans are underway to expand through their establishing their own company with a total paid-in capital of LE120,000 shared equally among all 30 cluster members.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 21:11:00 +0000 Heba Helmy 2443370 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/01/28/43/image004.jpg Freska seller heads to Cairo to make up for summer losses <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>On Dokki neighborhood streets, Amm Gaber, 45, roams among cars and traffic lights, holding a box, and shouts, &quot;Freska! Freska! Oh, sweeter than biscuits!&quot;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Most are used to hearing freska peddlers shout on beaches, but not in the streets of Dokki.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Freska&rdquo;&nbsp;is what Egyptians call the round, sweet, paper-thin wafers often sold on the beach as peddlers carry them inside large glass cases over their shoulders.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><div>&ldquo;Italians invented freska and used to call it &lsquo;fresh&rsquo;. We took it from them at the time of war and dubbed it freska,&rdquo; Amm Gaber explains.</div></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Amm Gaber perhaps reminds passers-by in the dead winter of the beautiful moments of summer, as despite the freska he sells, he insists to wear the formal clothes of his profession called &ldquo;bamboteya.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Like other freska sellers, Amm Gaber used to wait for the summer season in Alexandria each year to sell the sweet wafers, until the month of Ramadan started to coincide with the summer season, culminating in steep losses to his business.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He then thought of heading to Cairo to make up for his losses over the months of Ramadan during the past five years.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Amm Gaber said he discovered that the people of Cairo who visit the beaches from year to year are the ones to long for the freska wafers the most.</div> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 15:14:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2443335 at sites/default/files/photo/2015/01/28/16030/296509_0.jpg