According to informed TBE sources, boursa bigwigs have apparently succumbed to the dubious wisdom of that age-old adage, “It takes a village to raise a boursa.” It will be moving to the so-called “Smart Village” on the Alex Desert Road, which, for all its supposed tech savvy, has not yet developed a minimally navigable website. Its cafes do, however, feature “prestigious and yet comfortable sofas,” which is more than can be said for most Boursa cafes.
In a recent meeting with a well-known financial firm here in Cairo, some TBE freelancers uncovered this insidious plot to drive a stake through the heart the Boursa area. Further research indicated that the new Boursa is scheduled to open in the usurping entity known as Smart Village by the end of 2010. We have not yet been able to ascertain the fate of the old Boursa building once the exchange is moved to its new, less convenient location outside the city, but will keep readers informed of any subsequent developments.
While sad and disgruntled about the boursa’s planned change of venue and the effects said move will inevitably have on our neighborhood’s social ecosystem, particularly during working hours, the news nonetheless forced us to reckon with the fact that the Boursa as we know it today is only the latest in a long line of boursat to have graced downtown’s avenues and side streets. Aiding and abetting us in our study was this article, from which most of the following information is drawn.
First off, Cairo was not the first city in Egypt to feature a stock exchange; that honor goes to Alexandria. Cairo’s boursa was first conceived at a 1903 parlay between Egyptian financiers and traders. Soon after, the Boursa’s first iteration, called the Bourse Khediviale du Caire, opened a temporary headquarters on Maghraby Street, in what was the Ottoman Bank, and is now the (actually quite pleasant) Groppi’s branch on Adly Street.
Come 1907, a French architectural firm won an international competition to design and build a new, permanent boursa near the Central Bank’s current location. An international financial panic derailed those plans, however. In their stead, it was decided that an Egyptian firm would build the new boursa on the aptly named al-Boursa al-Gadida Street (New Boursa Street), which retains the same name today, despite the fact that an even newer boursa is just a couple blocks distant, in a manner reminiscent of longtime naming conventions in use at Cairo’s International Airport.
In 1928, the boursa was moved to its present location on Sherifeen Street, on land that had once contained the enormous villa of Moises (Moussa) Cattaoui, the prime mover behind the original, 1903 boursa. Until sometime in the past ten years the street on which TBE HQ is located was named after Mr. Cattaoui. It has since been changed, as one can see in the photo below.
An article from al-Ahram Weekly about renovations at the current boursa, carried out around the turn of this century. The article also gives some good background on how the Boursa came to look like it does today.
An article from the gone-but-not-forgotten Cairo Times drawing rough parallels between the Suares family of the early twentieth century and the Sawiris family of today.