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El Haga Zainab, Her Earrings, and The Commercial Taking Egypt By Storm

The inspirational TV commercial has been watched by millions and made its protagonist, dear Haga Zainab, a well-known figure; however, not everything about it is as meets the eye.

Ramadan is the only time of the year where advertisements are absolutely relentless in their quest for upping their charity and fundraising game. One of this year's most watched TV commercials is that of El Haga Zainab and the 'Tahya Masr' fund, which has captured the attention of millions of Egyptians for the story behind Zainab and her jewellery. However, a little research from our part quickly proved that the reality didn't entirely match what was portrayed in the TV ad.

The advertisement itself tells the story and upbringing of Zainab, an Egyptian woman who grew up in the countryside where she supposedly inherited a family heirloom: her grandmother's golden earrings. The advertisement narrates Zainab growing up, getting married, raising children of her own, and basically experiencing all walks of life all while the earrings loyally accompanied her every step of the way. The TV ads ends with President Sisi dotingly kissing her forehead while she narrates that, all for the sake of Egypt, she donates her precious earrings to the national fund 'Tahya Masr' ('Long Live Egypt').According to Al Masry Al Youm, Haga Zainab herself strongly criticised the advertisement and asserted that she was ''upset by the advertisement; what was in it wasn't true'' because she wasn't the one who did the voiceover, nor was she the person featured in the ad. She further explained to the news source that she had actually bought the earrings with her life savings, not inheriting them from her grandmother as portrayed. She did, however, reiterate that she did donate the earrings out of her own free will, which prompted the President to invite her to the Presidential palace and pay his respect.

Zainab's story was accordingly narrated and used in the ad as a means of promotingthe fund, broadcast on Egyptian television screens during the month of Ramadan when viewership is particularly high. 

A little recap on what 'Tahya Masr' actually is: a national fund that is held under the auspices of the President, announced in May 2014 and inaugurated shortly after Sisi became president. The fund aims to help the development of towns and act as an urgent aid to overall development considering that the economy is in bad shape. Currently, the fund is supervised by a board of trustees including Naguib Sawiris, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), the former grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, and CBC channel owner Mohamed Al-Amin.