Oct. 9, 2009
TBE HQ Balcony- The Boursa’s largest outdoor antiques market has closed for business. A source at TIBA Supermarket with knowledge of the situation told TBE that the closure order came at the behest of the owner of a surrounding building. It was unclear at press time whether the owner in question was the government, the Ismailiyya Company for Real Estate Investment or some other person or entity.
The drama started last Sunday, October 4, when a large police and security contingent descended on the Boursa and ordered the shop’s immediate closure. After some verbal resistance to the order, the owner acquiesced.
The next several days witnessed trucks and workers loading myriad items, including giant doors, giant wheels, what looked like the minbar of a mosque and other detritus of Egypt’s past onto trucks, which then carted the materiel off. At one point, the situation threatened to turn explosive as workers continued to carry items out of the store to the waiting trucks during Egypt’s football match with Costa Rica, periodically interrupting café patrons’ television viewing. Cooler heads prevailed, however, and peace once again reined on the Boursa.
Lacking both a suitable place to put them and an interest in what might be termed “antiques-for-antiques’-sake,” TBE staff’s interactions with the shop were limited. Once, the store’s owner beckoned our editor to enter, perhaps mistaking him for one of the tourists that troll the Boursa’s byways on a regular basis. Although said editor politely declined, he came away from the interaction with the feeling that the owner was “pretty nice.” On the other hand, TBE’s photographer once entered the emporium, but claimed that he was treated brusquely and that the prices he was quoted were ridiculously high, particularly considering the fact that one very rarely sees customers in the store’s interior courtyard area, which is viewable from TBE’s oft-peopled balcony.
The effect of the eviction on the local economy is unclear. The fallout will undoubtedly touch those directly employed by the purveyor of antiquated objects. Nonetheless, this particular corner of the Boursa has long since moved to a café-based economy, catering to mixed-gender groups and couples, and using its comparative advantage in high-definition televisions to draw crowds from among the football-watching masses. This appears to be a winning formula, as the cafes remain popular despite charging higher than average prices and enforcing a no-hot-drinks-during-football-matches policy, which some local residents consider draconian.
For those that are in the market for giant hand-carved doors and the like, TBE can report exclusively that at least some of the goods have been transported to a building on one of the small side streets off of Sabry Abu ‘Alam, adjacent to the Boursa.
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Because TBE’s photographer is still away on assignment, we commissioned a couple artists to render the scene. Their work can be seen after the jump.