Resident Perspective is a series of standardized interviews with Cairo residents to get their views on the city and their neighborhoods.
Where in Cairo do you live?
By Gameat el-dowal Square in the heart of Mohandeseen.
List the most positive and the most negative aspects of living there.
Positive: It is within central Cairo with easy access to Zamalek and Downtown. Gameat el-dowal street also has a number of high rises, which simply adds a cool element to living here. Negatives: Traffic is terribly bad throughout the day even in trying to reach close areas. Mohandeseen is bordered by dense poorer areas such ard el Lowa and Sudan street. This is not a bad thing by itself, but it highlights the extreme disparates of wealth within Cairo. Gameat el-dowal by Sudan street is a different area, community and space than Gameat el-dowal by the Mustafa Mahmoud square some 500m away.
How do you move around Cairo (modes of transport) and what would you like to see different regarding the future of transport in the city?
I use a personal car whenever I can’t use the metro or the bicycle. The bicycle is now my primary mode of transport within Mohandeseen, and to Dokki, Zamalek and Downtown. The ability to use it at any time of the day regardless of traffic levels is liberating; I would love to see this interdependence of the car and the congested road in the future. Unfortunately, going to Cairo’s Desert Satellites (6th of October or Fifth Settlement) or Heliopolis, Nasr city etc. remains limited to using a car or minibuses, both subject to unavoidable congestion.
How does your district fit within Cairo? What would you like to see changed in that relationship between your neighborhood and the city?
Mohandeseen is central, well connected by roads and accessible. However, usable public transportation is lacking and rush hour traffic makes Mohandeseen an isolated traffic trap for most of the day.
What are your top complaints about Cairo and what would you suggest to solve those problems?
1. Pollution: You really notice when using a bicycle for longer trips at rush hour in your throat. 2. Poverty of the people: Every time you have to pay a monadi to park in the street is a testament to his need to do so to earn a living; and to the extreme disparities of wealth we live in. 3. Lack of public spaces: Perhaps the only public space within Mohandeseen is the green strip In the middle of the Gameat el-Dowal road. Worse, most of the beach fronts on the Nile all over Cairo are private property inaccessible to the public.
What do you like the most about Cairo and what are your favorite places in the city.
Cairo has too many beautiful gems hidden waiting to be found and appreciated. The downtown area is full of a history that is ours and that is worth learning about. Even modern day monstrosities such as the Mugamma3 building or the 6th of October bridge exhibit a sense of distopian cool. Too bad they are hell to deal with.
Do you relate to the historic heritage of your district or of Cairo in general? Do you think you have a good sense of history of the city? Would you say you are have “civic pride” or are proud to live in Cairo?
Yes, almost yes and yes. Problems are, you learn about Cairo’s history more by accident than by anything else, and you have no say in its running. I might be proud of living in the city, but I am sadly no civic participant in its public life as there is no political avenue to really do so.
Do you understand how the city is governed/managed? Do you think your community/district would be better or worst if residents from the community/district were involved in local government (محليات)?
No, I only that it is an organizational mess of 4 governarates with no single mayor. The city of Cairo needs an elected major with the same pomp of a president to have something to look up to, and actual say in the more down to earth local government. Especially the poorer areas.
In the context of Cairo, what comes to mind when you think of these keywords?
Green Space/Parks: Mafeesh, substituted by the coffee houses and impromptu late night coffee saloons on the Nile bridges. Green space: Mafeesh, but for little decorative strips, some of them even gated behind fences.
Gated communities: Disaster.
Museums: Shows just how much we actually love to disrespect our own history. No wonder we disrespect our own city as well and feel no sense pf ownership.
Informal areas: Euphemism for failure of the state and continued admittance of failure to face the future.
If you could move to another district in Cairo where would you move to?
I’d probably move to Zamalek or Heliopolis. More importantly, I would like to be within biking distance to work and not dependent on cars in daily life.
*If you would like to tell us about where you live and share your views on Cairo, fill the survey by clicking here.