About Doctor Sherif


On October 11, 2017 Dr. Sherif Mohammed Helmy Abdel Soliman, Doctor Honoris Causa of Kalashnikov ISTU, President of Egyptian-Russian University would have celebrated his 76th birthday. Dr. Sherif was a key figure in collaboration of Kalashnikov ISTU with Egyptian universities – first, Helwan University, then – ERU.

Dr. Sherif spoke Russian very well and deeply understood the peculiarities of our culture in many aspects, including interpersonal and everyday ones. It is surprising for a foreign professor. Once, during one of our first meetings, he told me: «I have lived in Russia more than you». In the beginning of 1960-s a group of the best graduates of Cairo universities was sent by Egyptian government for PhD studies to the USSR. It was the time when E.A. Furtzeva was the Minister of Culture who helped the young Sherif Soliman to be enrolled for PhD studies not to the educational institute but to the research institution of reinforced concrete. The PhD student Sherif Soliman studied from one of the founders of the Russian scientific school of calculation and design of reinforced concrete structures – Prof. .A.A. Gvozdev. Till the very last days he had very good recollections of his teachers and years spent as a PhD student. He studied the basics of intercultural communications, as we will say now, in the hostel and at work when making tests in laboratories. Sherif Soliman learned to get on well with technicians and workers, he found by experience what could spark their interest to obtain the desired result (there had to be many experiments and a lot of sensors). He remained the construction engineer during all his life, he tried to get into every detail of ERU construction, participated in the construction of the modern library in Alexandria and other objects.

Sherif Soliman got married in Moscow and his son was born there. Since that time he loved the Russian cuisine which he missed in Egypt: buckwheat, pelmeni. After the defense of PhD dissertation in the research institution of reinforced concrete, Dr. Sherif worked in Egyptian universities, was a Cultural Counselor of Egyptian Embassy in Moscow. Carrying out multiple duties, he did the main thing – he tried to foster the respect of our country and understanding of our traditions and culture in incoming compatriots.

The most important thing in the life of Dr. Sherif was the opening of Egyptian-Russian University in Badr City, the suburb of Cairo. It turned out that many secondary school graduates wanted to soak up, to some extent, the Russian engineering culture, spend several months of studies in Russia. Whereas there are 14 public universities in Cairo and Alexandria, as well as private ones, young people cover 60 kilometers from Cairo to study in ERU. Many of ERU professors and associate professors studied in USSR and Russia in different periods of time, they know our textbooks on machine parts, design, etc. Practically all teachers with degrees have the experience of studies in a university abroad: England, Germany, USA. Dr. Sherif collected a large scientific library with the textbooks in many courses recognized internationally. The laboratories are quipped following the professors’ and deans’ requests; instruments, tools, components are ordered in Egypt and abroad.

There were always people around Dr. Sherif, his friends in studies in our country, their wives, most of whom are Russian, teachers of ERU and other universities, film-makers, writers. In this circle the first toast was «to Egypt», and the second – always «to Russia». The challenging Russian history and the current situation always worry these artistic people who know by heart not only Pushkin, but also Brodsky, paint pictures, arrange parties of Russian cuisine. Dr. Sherif’s brother – Rafik, an engineer, who lived and worked in the USA for many years – took part in such events.


In 2012 Albert Abilov and I spent, all in all, about 5 months in ERU, constantly communicating with Dr. Sherif, and soaked ourselves in Egyptian everyday life. The ERU President organized our work, including the workplaces in the university, he was always accessible («I don’t have any bureaucracy here»), attentive to minor details in our everyday lives, he personally checked were we were accommodated, how we lived. I remember that once he asked us to count Egyptian pounds: «I want to be sure that you understand local money». Dr. Sherif showed us Cairo and told a lot about the life in modern Egypt.

He was a demanding administrator, knew everything about the university and its people in detail, he was emotional in disputes but calmed down quickly. Everybody who knew him will not forget a peculiar accent in his speech, his friendliness and wonderful sense of humor.

Our university was very lucky (thanks to formed rector Prof. Ivan Abramov) that the closest relations between ERU and its President Dr. Sherif were formed with Kalashnikov ISTU, though there are such universities among ERU partners, as Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, universities from Tomsk, Kazan and others.

There is a lot of symbolism in the life of this remarkable man, a real friend of Russia, even the dates: he was born in October 1941, passed away in March 2017. He will always be with us.

Eduard Krylov
Professor of the Department of Theoretical Mechanics and Theory of Machines and Mechanisms