Revisiting the Fortress Embassy

Security forces intervene during the protests at US Embassy Cairo. Photo by Gigi Ibrahim. There are probably at least a few in your city, hiding on the upper floods of office buildings, secluded in elegant townhouses, tucked somewhere behind high fences out of view. Nearby cars’ license plates are sometimes their only identifiable feature. Whether […]

Posted in: Africa and Middle East, Architecture, Books, Europe, Politics by Christopher Szabla Comments Off on Revisiting the Fortress Embassy , , , , ,

Cairo’s Taxi Revolution

Photos by Peter Morgan (top), and MatHelium (bottom) Hop in any cab in any city of the world and you’re likely to be treated to lively political commentary. That’s especially true in autocratic regimes, where the availability of other spaces in which random strangers can meet and speak openly has often been severely curtailed. Cairo’s […]

Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt, Hiding in Plain Sight

Photo by Sarah Carr I couldn’t quite glimpse Hosni Mubarak from my balcony in Garden City, but simply knowing that his portrait was nearby made me unable to shake the sensation of being watched. Not exactly towering over, but nudged by its rooftop mechanicals above the rooflines of the neighborhood’s decadently decomposing 19th century apartment […]

Posted in: Africa and Middle East, Politics, Society and Culture by Christopher Szabla Comments Off on Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt, Hiding in Plain Sight , , , , ,

White Nights on Sharia Talaat Harb

Photo by Vyacheslav Argenberg / VascoPlanet It’s two in the morning on Talaat Harb Street, the heart of downtown Cairo, and the sidewalks are sclerotic. People shuffle slowly past shop windows exploding with merchandise. An intense white light beams across the thoroughfare. Avoiding hawkers thrusting t-shirts in their faces, trying to lure them to clothes […]

Three Stops on the Cairo Metro

Mar Girgis Saad Zaghloul Giza Pending the completion of Johannesburg’s Gautrain, the Cairo Metro is the only rapid transit system in Africa. And for all the rot and deterioration that characterizes much of Cairo’s city center, it’s surprisingly clean and efficient, with stations that possess a maintenance level and design savvy that would be the […]

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Morning Coffee: Cafés in Old Cairo

El Fishawy is the best known café in Cairo and a favourite of Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz Mention Cairo, and the first things that come to mind are the pyramids. Why do I consider this unfortunate? Because the pyramids are a remnant of a dead civilization, and Cairo today is a living city of […]