We’re working on a hard-hitting piece with a Boursa angle but we thought we should share some observations and information about the old neighborhood, seeing as the original raison d’etre for this blog was to chronicle its happenings.
Category Archives: The Boursa
Having returned, briefly, from the land of the open-throated alifs (Hala Wallah at your boy!), we’ve got several updates coming your way in the coming day or days. Today we’ll be covering some fashion happening around town.
Although TBE’s dream of opening a hamburger joint in Cairo is currently on sabbatical, we’re happy to announce that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the tonier districts of Zamalek and beyond. It is with great pleasure that we announce the founding of Amoura Designs, the brainchild of a most stylish friend of TBE, which is currently producing gorgeous jewelry like that which graces the top of this post. Check the Facebook page for ordering information and more work samples.
Limited engagement. One weekend only. You can call me uncle.
Thanks to the good offices of the indefatigable Humphrey Davies, who not only translates novels but also keeps an eye on the Official Gazette of Egypt, TBE has learned that the government, in a move that can only be described as laudable, has set aside a large number of Cairo’s buildings and villas for architectural preservation. We weren’t able to find a copy of the Gazette on the government’s website, and the file is rather too large to post here, but will post a link if we find one, or send a copy via email to interested parties.
Some details after the jump.
In lieu of posting a picture today, we direct our readers to this (new to us) website hosted by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, which has a treasure trove of photos, videos, old newspapers, etc. from Egypt. Unfortunately for our purposes, we haven’t figured out a way to “borrow” photos, as we had planned. Nonetheless it is definitely worth checking out.
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It is not often that TBE has occasion to praise the vision of the government. Someone call the Pointer Sisters, TBE is so excited. We think making downtown a pedestrian area is a capital idea, so much so that we aren’t averse to making cheap puns about it.
A couple caveats: We hope the redevelopment plan, when implemented, creates an open space accessible to all of Cairo’s residents. While we enjoy al-Azhar Park, we sometimes rue the fact that it is almost exclusively the preserve of foreigners, relatively well-to-do locals and groups of schoolchildren on field trips. We also hope that the new downtown is developed with an eye toward easing pollution, not just by banning cars but also through the creation of an “urban lung.”
As for the questions of whether the large sums that will be spent on redeveloping the area would be better spent on easing problems in more downtrodden areas than downtown, the answer is probably yes. That said, we see it as a more worthwhile use of funds than redoing the sidewalks in Zamalek and Garden City, to take a recent example. City or national governments are always going to spend money on prestige projects. This one at least has the potential to benefit all of Egypt’s citizens.
From al-Masry al-Youm’s Sunday, October 18 edition:
Later update: This version of the article delves into more detail about the proposed changes downtown and the process of demarcating Cairo’s borders.
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.
TBE interrupts its previously scheduled vacation to bring you the following updates: