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Posts tagged resident perspective

Resident Perspective: Salah Salem

Resident Perspective is a series of standardized interviews with Cairo residents to get their views on the city and their neighborhoods. Share your views on Cairo, fill the survey by clicking here.

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Where in Cairo do you live?

Obour Buildings, Salah Salem Street. Belongs to Heliopolis district.

List the most positive and the most negative aspects of living there.

Positive: a garden between every two buildings, good cleaning services (trash, sweeping floors), good transportation (buses, and 2 new metro stations are now nearby “Stadium & Book Fair”), garage for every building, safe, has a nearby long avenue for walking, running, cycling, etc.

Negative: Loud traffic, not enough services (almost all of them are shopping stores), hard to form close neighbors because of the many companies and mostly-elder population, no nearby hospital or clinic.


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?

Ordered by frequency: - Walking - Metro (after the new metro extension for the third line) - Public buses - Microbuses (unofficial buses)

How does your district fit within Cairo? What would you like to see changed in that relationship between your neighborhood and the city?

Connected through transportation but isolated because it doesn’t provide services to Cairo. Maybe shopping stores and that’s it. So no need to really come over except if you work in an office here.


What are your top complaints about Cairo and what would you suggest to solve those problems?

1- Traffic: I think we should stop encouraging owning cars by all the projects focused on them like expanding crossovers or widening streets by removing sidewalks. Instead we need to make it even harder for people to get to their destination so they know that this is not a city designed for cars, this is designed for humans. We need wider sidewalks, bike lanes in main avenues, more metro lines and public transportation and less solutions for how to make car the center of the city. Also startups related to traffic like bey2ollak, wasalny, and others concerned with Cairo should team up to offer a reliable and safe carpooling service.

2- Losing Heritage: We need smarter solutions to saving our heritage. Stop bearing poor people because they live close to a monument, and start embrace them and teach them to use the monument to boost their business.

3- Harassment This is becoming ridiculous. There’s no point of making a street better if I don’t feel safe walking in it. We pick streets and roads based on safety first then anything else. So harassment is making Cairo a lot smaller for us because many streets are not a choice.


What do you like the most about Cairo and what are your favorite places in the city.

1- Many historical places: You almost have a monument for every major historical event that happened in Egypt here in Cairo.

2- variety in services and unofficial markets.

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 I do, please note that most people taking this survey will have a sense of responsibility toward the city to fill it. So don’t count on the percentage of “yes” you get from that survey as a representative of what citizens of Cairo really think.


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 don’t, I have no idea who is responsible for what and I have a hard time finding answers.


In the context of Cairo, what comes to mind when you think of these keywords?

Public Space: No where.

Green Space/Parks: only ticket gardens, no gardens integrated with the streets.

Gated communities: Many, even if there’s no actual gate. and that’s in both expensive districts (new cities) and poor alleys where they consider those alleys part of their private homes.

Museums:  Egyptian Museum needs more labels on the monuments, no affordable guidebooks for Egyptians to buy and not enough security inside, monuments are kept in bad displays and can easily be sabotaged, cleaning staff are irresponsible. The Islamic Museum is always closed, the same with Agricultural Museum. The Coptic Museum is the best kept museum, nice displays, nice lighting, everything is labeled, the tour makes sense and organized chronologically, good staff. Abdeen Palace is good but security is strict and sometimes forbid access to rooms that are supposed to be among the tours. I wasn’t allowed to take photos of the palace from outside.

Unplanned districts: I think they should be embraced instead of being treated as ticking bombs.

Downtown: Been there only once, don’t feel safe going there because of Tahrir square tension.

If you could move to another district in Cairo where would you move to?

I have no idea. The problem is that nice districts to live in don’t have enough services and maybe that’s the reason they’re still nice.

*If you would like to tell us about where you live and share your views on Cairo, fill the survey by clicking here.

Resident Perspective: Madinet Nasr

Resident Perspective is a series of standardized interviews with Cairo residents to get their views on the city and their neighborhoods. Share your views on Cairo, fill the survey by clicking here.

Where in Cairo do you live?

Nasr City. Intended to be widely spaced, for the elite. Ended up being densely urbanized, full of cars, with barely any passages for pedestrian usage.

List the most positive and the most negative aspects of living there.

Positive: The urban fabric is easy to understand, thus you’re less likely to get lost. There are a lot of close-by services, so you don’t really need to get out much.

Negative: There are a lot of gardens, which are poorly maintained, all gated off from the community instead of embracing the community. The streets are too wide to provide space for cars, making the thermal environment rather hot in summer. Buildings were intended to be with basement garages, that ended up being workshops or cafeterias that bestow a wide range of noise at odd hours throughout the day and during weekends. Buildings are extremely ugly, with barely any rhythm in style or shape. Ceilings are low and do not offer decent ventilation for indoor spaces. Most buildings are higher than was initially planned, which results in a dense community of massive number of cars, and a skyline that is cramped with horrid architecture.


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 car. I would much rather use a bike to a close-by metro station that can help me move around the city and enjoy the weather and sun. Maybe during summer, i would more likely park my car to the metro station, but i would definitely want to drive a lot less and save time wasted in Cairo traffic.


How does your district fit within Cairo? What would you like to see changed in that relationship between your neighborhood and the city?

My district is far but well connected within the city. I would like a stronger connection via metro lines and/or tram lines.


What are your top complaints about Cairo and what would you suggest to solve those problems?

Traffic: we need decent public transportation, plus on a broader scale providing job opportunities outside of the capital (decentralization). Harassment: social awareness and strict laws set to allow women to move around safely. Noise: I have no idea what can solve this problem except general decency, but it’s killing me!


What do you like the most about Cairo and what are your favorite places in the city.

I like Muizz Street the most in Cairo and older Cairo spaces such as Darb 1718. I also love Nile cafeterias and spaces that provide seating in-front of the Nile, i would love it if it were public open spaces, not just private paid for spaces. (Club 33, leftbank-Zamalik & Platform-Maadi).

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?

I am extremely proud to be living in Cairo, that’s why I want it to improve.


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)?

Yes, and I would believe people’s involvement can actually change a lot.


In the context of Cairo, what comes to mind when you think of these keywords?

Public Space: Markets such as Ataba, or Boulak where people are free to use their space as they will and intersect with different lives from all over the city.

Green Space/Parks: Parks stranded away from the community with gates and tickets, like those of Nasr City.

Gated communities: An inevitable response for people who have the means to close off from the intolerable city.

Museums What comes to mind is the Egyptian museum with poorly maintained artifacts, with barely any description.

Unplanned districts: Places full of potential and capacity for improvement.

Downtown: A misguidedly-utilized district in Cairo, that can be maintained with much more respect in regards to its history.

If you could move to another district in Cairo where would you move to?

I would move to a gated community such as; Rehab or Madinaty.

 

*If you would like to tell us about where you live and share your views on Cairo, fill the survey by clicking here.

Resident Perspective: Maadi

Resident Perspective is a series of standardized interviews with Cairo residents to get their views on the city and their neighborhoods. Share your views on Cairo, fill the survey by clicking here.

Where in Cairo do you live?

Maadi. A place full of teachers and oil workers. It is greener than other areas, but still full of traffic and noise.

List the most positive and the most negative aspects of living there.

Other areas are a lot more exciting - with more local life and areas to explore. Maadi is a very easy area to live in for an Ex-pat - everyone pretty much speaks English and it is easy to buy things that you would find in the West.


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?

Mostly taxis, sometimes the metro and as often as possible the Nile Taxi, however that gets expensive. I wish there was an easier, cheaper ferry access for the city. I know there is a ferry, but I have no idea how often it comes or where it stops etc.


How does your district fit within Cairo? What would you like to see changed in that relationship between your neighborhood and the city?

It is connected well with the metro and buses. I wish there were more ferry options.


What are your top complaints about Cairo and what would you suggest to solve those problems?

1. Traffic (just too many cars on the road). 2. Garbage (there is no system for picking it up or for where people should throw it. There is also not enough garbage cans (but with no one to empty them, what is the point?) 3. Pollution (see number 1 - too many cars, see number 2 burning garbage is not a solution).


What do you like the most about Cairo and what are your favorite places in the city.

What I like most about Cairo are the people, the adventures to be had, and all the corners to be explored, there is so much history! Favorite places: Downtown, Zamalek, Khan El Khalili.

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?

I don’t know the history of my area, except that it was built with keeping it more green in mind. There are beautiful trees and plants in many spots. Spring is a beautiful time to be here. I am definitely proud to live in Cairo. I believe that some people just have no idea what Cairo is really like and I am spreading the word.


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)?

I don’t understand how it is managed. I think there are too many big problems happening for the government to be worried about things like traffic, garbage and pollution even though I believe these things are extremely important. The country needs some stability in order to work on these issues. It seems like having a community/district government could help bring these kinds of issues to the table.


In the context of Cairo, what comes to mind when you think of these keywords?

Public Space: Filled with people, crowded.

Green Space/Parks: NONE (I know there are some, but you really have to look and make a day out of it).

Gated communities: Too many

Museums CLOSED, The Museum, of Antiquities is alright, I wish it had better lighting and a better layout, but with a guide it is OK. But there are countless other museums to visit, however, so many are closed. Sad.

Downtown: Love it! Full of character, great places to go out for a drink or to a gallery, every time I go there are new places to discover.

If you could move to another district in Cairo where would you move to?

Zamalek, or on a houseboat! They are more central and seem to have a calmer, less crowded feel to them!

 

*If you would like to tell us about where you live and share your views on Cairo, fill the survey by clicking here.

Resident Perspective: Agouza

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?
I live in Agouza, a middle-to higher class residential district, with very few retail, food and beverage locations.

List the most positive and the most negative aspects of living there.
I live along the Nile, so I do have a beautiful view looking onto the Zamalek side. Unfortunately that also means highway traffic on my street as well extremely loud music being blasted by nearby Nile party boats.


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 walk, hitch a car ride or take cabs. I have given up on driving years ago in order to retain my sanity. I would like to see Cairo being a more walkable city, with alternative modes of transportation that includes bicycling, and an effective public transport system that is clean, safe, and less crowded.


How does your district fit within Cairo? What would you like to see changed in that relationship between your neighborhood and the city?
Central. I would like to stay central.


What are your top complaints about Cairo and what would you suggest to solve those problems?

1) Traffic: Cease building satellite communities that adds the load of traffic going in and out of the city everyday. Encourage public transportation and carpooling. Introduce tougher traffic laws, regulations and tougher penalties for those who break them. Invest in other cities in Egypt instead of the over-investment in Cairo, to allow them to grow and encourage the overpopulated Carieans to relocate. 2) Heat: Encourage building sustainable developments with dense buildings and narrow streets to allow for maximum shade, instead of the wide streets of asphalt and concrete that increase the heat gain. Encourage passive cooling systems with the urban community. 3) Garbage/Trash: Introduce more effective waste management and recycling systems by empowering the waste industries and financing research initiatives that encourage using waste products as alternative energy solutions.


What do you like the most about Cairo and what are your favorite places in the city.

Zamalek: Because of the walkability, quality of life / standard of living, and because it is very self sustainable as an island (meaning i would never have to leave the island on a daily basis) Islamic Cairo: rich with heritage and culture, with a smart built environment that is very responsive to both climatic and social constraints.

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?

I do relate to the historic heritage of Cairo (my district has very little). I do think I know a lot about the history of Cairo, and I am very proud to live in Cairo.


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)?

I am not informed as well as I should be, reason I say this is because i am quite surprised that the residents of the district are not involved in the local government (as your question suggests). And yes, I do think that is a must.


In the context of Cairo, what comes to mind when you think of these keywords?

Green Space/Parks: Nadi el Gezira, golf area. As a city we have a lack of public green space and parks, and I am not sure we are a culture that understands what a park is (case in point the small patches of green space randomly placed around the city and labeled as parks).

Gated communities:  6th of October suburbs. A social travesty that started with the 19th century import of Haussmann Paris to what is now called Downtown, where the rich is trying to distance themselves from the poor - causing the social rift and tension we experience in the country today.

Museums: Poorly designed exhibition spaces informal areas: a stroke of genius that should be encouraged (via regulation) and not stifled.

Informal areas: If these communities are willing to build their own districts without government help, then we should allow them this opportunity as opposed to stick them in the low-cost matchbox nightmares that the housing department conceives. Given certain formal, spatial and material parameters, these “informal areas” or “slums” could be transformed into some of the more interesting and economically boosting areas in modern Cairo.

Downtown: A beautiful part of Cairo that started as a terrible idea. Injecting a foreign alien urban culture different to our own (separating rich from poor - houses looking out instead of looking in), this part of Cairo represents the beginning of the social rift that has seen two-three revolutions over the past 150 years and a large widening gap between the rich and the poor.

If you could move to another district in Cairo where would you move to?
Zamalek, for the reasons previously mentioned in this survey.

*If you would like to tell us about where you live and share your views on Cairo, fill the survey by clicking here.

Resident Perspective: Abdeen

Resident Perspective is a series of standardized interviews with Cairo residents to get their views on the city and their neighborhoods.

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Where in Cairo do you live?
I live in Abdeen. Located down the street from the Ministry of Interior, it is just past the pseudo cosmopolitanism of downtown, edging into the more “popular” neighborhoods of Lazoghly and Sayeda Zeinab, where prices are cheaper and the area is more, but not exclusively, working class. Its proximity to Ministry of Interior means there are always police everywhere, in every shop and cafe.

List the most positive and the most negative aspects of living there.
Positive -close to downtown/Bab el Loq, where I spend most of my time Negative- too many police.


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?
Metro and taxi mostly, sometimes microbus or bus. I’d like to see more and free public transportation, dozens more metro lines, reducing the number of cars and the amount they can pollute, changing abuse of car horns.


How does your district fit within Cairo? What would you like to see changed in that relationship between your neighborhood and the city?
Central, if the Ministry of Interior and its pigs and walls were gone it would be perfectly on the edge of Bab el Loq and Sayeda with all both neighborhoods have to offer.


What are your top complaints about Cairo and what would you suggest to solve those problems?

Traffic, pollution, corruption. The city needs free mass public transport, a “revolution.”


What do you like the most about Cairo and what are your favorite places in the city.

Feeling of community in places like the ahwa (cafe), the popular ahwas and bars in Bab el Loq. Favorite places are the corniche in Manial, the ahwa by bayt el oud, Sudanese restaurant in downtown.

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?

Somehow, the romanticized cosmopolitan Cairo of old haunts you through the decaying architecture, and somehow feels connected to the middle class artist types, halfway intellectuals, revolutionaries, and expats that are always around, in Bab el Loq at least. But other areas that have the same architecture, Mohamed Naguib for example, don’t have that same feeling. I don’t have much of a sense of its history, despite having studied it! I could say that (I have civic pride), maybe.


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 idea. (it would be) 1000 times better (if community was involved in urban management)!


In the context of Cairo, what comes to mind when you think of these keywords?

Public Space: Crowds, suffocation, stress.

Green Space/Parks: How some streets in Bab el Loq actually have a lot of trees and are beautiful in those rare moments when no cars are on the streets, but that rarely happens so we never notice, it feels like the trees aren’t there.

Gated communities: Fuck ‘em.

Museums: Not interested.

Informal areas: Still don’t know where those start and end, I like how narrow streets move, the feeling of walking in them, something organic, not cold (thinking of area in Bulaq).

Downtown: Love, hopelessness, lost people, nice bars, good conversations.

If you could move to another district in Cairo where would you move to?
I would not move, but thought about Manial because it is close to downtown and very quiet, nice standard of living but not too expensive.

*If you would like to tell us about where you live and share your views on Cairo, fill the survey by clicking here.

Resident Perspective: Faisal

Resident Perspective is a series of standardized interviews with Cairo residents to get their views on the city and their neighborhoods.

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Where in Cairo do you live?
Talbia/Faisal. It is crowded and noisy with lots of shops, minibuses and tuktuks. Because I’m off the main road the roads aren’t paved properly.

List the most positive and the most negative aspects of living there.
There are always people around to help. The shops are open untill late. It mostly feels safe. It is always noisy - until well into the night. I’m always arguing with shopkeepers about where they think I should/shouldn’t park.


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?
Car. Occasionally the metro. I would like to see the underground/metro go to more of the places I go to (eg. home and work). I would like to see more organized/formal reasonably-priced parking.


How does your district fit within Cairo? What would you like to see changed in that relationship between your neighborhood and the city?
It is fairly central and well-connected. I’d like to have easier access in/out by car - I would like to see Faisal street less crowded or have quicker access onto the ring road.


What are your top complaints about Cairo and what would you suggest to solve those problems?

Noise - encourage people (from childhood) to be considerate of their neighbors. Traffic - better public transport and system of car-pooling Parking - more reasonably-priced multi-storey car parks close to where people want to park


What do you like the most about Cairo and what are your favorite places in the city.

It is still largely safe. There is a lot to do in a fairly small area. There’s never a dull moment! My favorite places are the whole area round Townhouse/Abu Tarek/Greek Club/Estoril (in downtown) and the haven that is Andrea on Maryutia.

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?

Cairo in general. My district doesn’t feel like it has much historic heritage. Even after many years I only have a superficial sense of the history of Cairo. I would like to have civic pride about living in Cairo but it mostly feels like an unwinnable battle.


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)?

Not really. District offices/governorate offices. Very little consultation. It might be better if residents were involved, but would need to find way to stop vested interests taking over (like anywhere I guess).


In the context of Cairo, what comes to mind when you think of these keywords?

Public Space: the streets.

Green Space/Parks: not enough, dusty, Al Azhar Park.

Gated communities: isolated, expensive, nothing interesting/cultural going on.

Museums dusty, boring.

Informal areas: where I live.

Downtown: crowded, hassle, cultural events, interesting.

If you could move to another district in Cairo where would you move to?
Would once have said 6th October - now would say Downtown or Dokki/Agouza.

*If you would like to tell us about where you live and share your views on Cairo, fill the survey by clicking here.

Resident Perspective: Katameya

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?
Katameya. Peaceful, Green, a bubble away from the bustling traffic and the noise of Cairo. Also, an isolated island from cultural events, protests, and fine dining.

List the most positive and the most negative aspects of living there.
Positive: Quiet, relaxing, green, specious. Negative: Far, bubble life.


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?
My car. I would love a metro or train to reach tagamo3 (New Cairo Fifth Settlement), it would change my life.


How does your district fit within Cairo? What would you like to see changed in that relationship between your neighborhood and the city?
It is isolated. The ring road is so dangerous and always crowded, and if there’s an accident, you can just kiss your day goodbye!!!!


What are your top complaints about Cairo and what would you suggest to solve those problems?

Traffic, garbage, and sexual harassment.


What do you like the most about Cairo and what are your favorite places in the city.

What I like most about Cairo: it’s home, where my family and friends are. Favorite places in city: Khan el Khalili, Ibn Tulun (bayn elqasrein), Azhar Park, Felucca on the Nile.

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, I love Cairo.


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)?

It would be better of course. The local city councils, “mahalleyat,” are zebala (garbage) and full of corruption and bribery. We need democracy from the bottom up.


In the context of Cairo, what comes to mind when you think of these keywords?

Green Space/Parks: Unheard of, except Azhar Park.

Gated communities: A bubble.

Museums: Should be outsourced to private sector Because the government is doing such a lousy job (of managing them).

Downtown: WAAALLLLSSS (The cement block walls erected post-revolution around the Parliament, Interior Ministry, etc.). NO PARKING - A MESS.

If you could move to another district in Cairo where would you move to?
Nowhere, I love Katameya.

*If you would like to tell us about where you live and share your views on Cairo, fill the survey by clicking here.

Resident Perspective: Heliopolis

Resident Perspective is a series of standardized interviews with Cairo residents to get their views on the city and their neighborhoods.

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Where in Cairo do you live?
Heliopolis, a beautiful district with a lot of hidden gems, but one which is also in the process of being destroyed via the introduction of ugly tall architecture.

List the most positive and the most negative aspects of living there.
You get a full city, with everything you need. - You get a lot of beautiful “colonial” architecture in some of the main areas. - It’s becoming increasingly crowded, though. - I’m not sure if the new Metro stations that are being built are going to help reduce this crowdedness or worsen it. - New semi- high rise buildings are being introduced that are destroying the scene.


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?
It depends on where I’m going. If I’m going somewhere far away, such as Maadi, I take the Metro. If I’m going somewhere local, in Heliopolis, I either walk or take a taxi. I occasionally take buses, but that really depends on how much of a hassle I’m prepared to brace myself for (although it’s usually never as bad as I envisage it to be!). - I’d like to see an extensive Metro system and a lot more buses. - I don’t know if I want to see Microbuses anymore. Good buses can replace these; perhaps the owners can be offered jobs within an improved bus system?


How does your district fit within Cairo? What would you like to see changed in that relationship between your neighborhood and the city?
With Metro, it’s not very accessible. I try to avoid going far away because I hate the traffic, or can’t always be bothered to go through the hassle of taking the Metro. This sometimes affects my social life, as I’m often reluctant to go to Zamalek and Downtown, which is where my friends hang out. Perhaps the new Metro line will solve this. I don’t know if I see a relationship with the city as a whole, because Cairo is just humongous and I’d rather we started by focusing on districts.


What are your top complaints about Cairo and what would you suggest to solve those problems?

Pollution: MOT tests, scrap old cars (or old engines), set a limitation for cars (e.g. congestion charges). Traffic, same as above. But also, people’s attitudes towards consumption need to change. A car is often seen as a measurement of wealth and social status. Similarly, I know women who own cars because they don’t like going through the hassle they encounter in the streets (e.g. sexual harassment) and men who believe it’s expected from them to own a car. - Sexual harassment - A mass educational campaign to end social acceptability of it and change views on women needs to be urgently implemented. I always give these three complaints during conversations in which I’m asked why I would consider leaving the city/Egypt.


What do you like the most about Cairo and what are your favorite places in the city.

The diversity, people from all walks of life, all in one place. The hidden gems, there’s always something fascinating around the corner. Artisan work, for example, Khayameya, etc. I really don’t believe in favorites, because my likes evolve over time. At this very moment in time, though, I’m in awe of the area around Korba/Midan el-Gamei’ in Heliopolis, Zamalek with its growing art scene, and Fatimid Cairo with its historical monuments and artisan work.

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?

I don’t know about pride, as I’m firmly opposed to taking pride in something I haven’t put any effort in making/doing. The city is the way it is, my impact on it hasn’t fully shaped its history. Relating to the historic heritage is a good question, though. I’ve never thought about this, but I think there’s a lot to learn and I’m realizing now that I’ve got too many gaps. Generally I have a sense of what this city may have looked over the years, but as I say, there are missing gaps/links. Thanks for asking this, it’s definitely made me think!


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)?

I don’t understand actually, no. I definitely believe in working on things using a decentralized model that feeds into a central one, so starting with the community is the way forward. I’m surprised at how, to date, this hasn’t been implemented.


In the context of Cairo, what comes to mind when you think of these keywords?

Green Space/Parks: a few that I’ve been to, but I see a lot of wasted potential. Merryland in Heliopolis is an example. These places aren’t promoted well enough either and are definitely not appreciated by all.

Gated communities: Rehab and the like; pleasant, but unfaithful to the architectural potential this city could have had, definitely an imitation of some developments for rich people in the Gulf and the like, and generally artificial.

Museums many, but not looked after. And many that I didn’t even know about until recently.

Informal areas: I’m guessing this is like areas along bridges where people mingle? I guess I’ve always found them fascinating, but never tried being part of the scene.

Downtown: An area I really want to start exploring. I think I can count the number of times I’ve been there, and it was usually to serve a purpose.

If you could move to another district in Cairo where would you move to?
Zamalek.

*If you would like to tell us about where you live and share your views on Cairo, fill the survey by clicking here.

Resident Perspective: Heliopolis

Resident Perspective is a series of standardized interviews with Cairo residents to get their views on the city and their neighborhoods.

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Where in Cairo do you live?
I am a proud Egyptian living in Heliopolis. Heliopolis is an historic neighborhood, with much beauty which is sadly neglected and being destroyed.

List the most positive and the most negative aspects of living there.
Positive aspects: It’s somewhat greener than other residential areas, the beautiful (but badly maintained) early 20th century architecture styles, el Korba. Negative aspects: destruction/neglect of beautiful architecture, recent ugly high rises, lack of parking and space, cleanliness issues in parts.


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 usually use taxis to move around the Heliopolis Madinet Nasr area. I use the metro to get to areas like central Cairo, Zamalek and Maadi. To get to areas like the 5th settlement etc, I have to rely on friends’ cars as I don’t drive and I’m frankly too afraid to drive in our disorderly streets. Personally, I’d love to have a better public transport infrastructure to be able to move around and go anywhere with ease without having to rely on a car all the time. I’d also like to see more attention paid and services provided to pedestrians and cyclists. I love to walk and cycle, but both are an absolute nightmare with all the holes/ravines/level changes on the sidewalks and the insane driving on the streets.


How does your district fit within Cairo? What would you like to see changed in that relationship between your neighborhood and the city?
Heliopolis is better connected to central Cairo than most, and facilities are not hard to access. Still I would like there to be a better public transport infrastructure so I could get to any area I want easily. I think it’s anyone’s right as a citizen to be able to go wherever they please in their city.


What are your top complaints about Cairo and what would you suggest to solve those problems?

1. NEGLECT: The city suffers from a major case of neglect. Just about everything is run down, cheaply made, and lacks beauty. Moreover, all that is beautiful and good about Cairo (Islamic & Khedival architecture, opportunities for green spaces) are badly neglected or demolished. My proposition would be an initiative to beautify the city, preserve and maintain historic sites/architecture and promote green spaces. 2. TRAFFIC: No way to describe the insane lawless frustrating traffic in mortal terms. This is due to (a) the streets being crowded due to parked cars, and (b) lack of street etiquette of any kind. The parked cars are due to (a) high rises being built without even considering the number of cars each flat would accommodate, and (b) any garage space becoming a business opportunity and thus becoming a pharmacy or a kabab shop. My solution would be to have a garage block on each street, or to actually build buildings with adequate garage space to accommodate residents’ cars. 3. DIRT: Garbage everywhere. Flies everywhere. Filthy streets. A cleaning program/initiative is needed. And a little respect/consideration to Egypt is needed from every Egyptian who tosses their pepsi cans on the street.


What do you like the most about Cairo and what are your favorite places in the city.

1.IT IS A GREAT CITY. Historic. Majestic. Grandiose. Full of culture. Full of human warmth. Despite all it’s flaws, it’s a treasure trove that deserves much better from its’ citizens. 2. IT’S HOME. I’ve been to lots of places. There’s no place like home. My favorite places in the city basically depend on how easily I can be immersed in culture. I love wist el balad, the Nile corniche, the Korba, the Hossein and parts of Zamalek because they’re so overwhelming culturally, visibly, and aesthetically, yet they are so badly maintained.

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?

It’s clear from my previous responses that I’m a proud Cairene and Heliopolitan. I read much on the modern history of Cairo (particularly art & architecture) so yes I do consider it a duty to appreciate the culture you are part of. Some countries don’t even have this, and it should be treasured. I am a proud citizen, but I’m also sad and heartbroken for the current state of things.


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)?

I think residents should be involved in decisions. I sadly don’t know how the city is governed or managed, and to be honest, I even doubt if it is being managed at all.


In the context of Cairo, what comes to mind when you think of these keywords?

Green Space/Parks: They are far too little. Azhar park is the only one kept at a decent standard. The green space I live near is the Merryland, which is dilapidated, filthy, full of roaming stray dogs.

Gated communities: Far away from town, isolated aesthetically more pleasing, but built with absolutely no planning or transport links to the city. It will end up as congested as downtown Cairo in a couple of decades due to parking problems.

Museums Stagnant, and are as ancient in their presentation as the artifacts they display. No imagination whatsoever in attracting public interest, and sadly Egyptian interest. Most visitors to for instance the Cairo Museum are awe-struck foreigners.

Informal areas: Sad. For the people living there and for the opportunities, especially agricultural that the earth can provide. An initiative is seriously needed to a) move these people to more humane housing, b) reduce the eyesore and c) maybe find a better land use.

Downtown: A beautiful gem covered by much dirt. This part of town should reclaim it’s title as the Centre of Town, the Khedival architecture should be restored, the area should be preferably pedestrianized.

If you could move to another district in Cairo where would you move to?
I wouldn’t move, unless circumstances dictated otherwise. If I had to, I would move somewhere with the same air/ambiance as Heliopolis.

*If you would like to tell us about where you live and share your views on Cairo, fill the survey by clicking here.

Resident Perspective: Maadi Degla

Resident Perspective is a series of standardized interviews with Cairo residents to get their views on the city and their neighborhoods.

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Where in Cairo do you live?
I live in Maadi Degla and will be moving to Dokki soon. This area is a tasteless cut-and-paste of the West.

List the most positive and the most negative aspects of living there.
The positive aspects: lots of trees and quietness (although not in the street where I live, 216 road). Negative aspects: 1) I miss a real neighborhood life and cultural activities. Lots of fast food, American style coffee shops and restaurants, but no cultural or social activities that will create a sense of neighborhood. 2) Transportation is a real problem (I do not drive), given that I go often to wast-el-balad to enjoy the cultural life.


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 move around in metro and taxi. There is a need: 1) to connect peripheral areas, which have very limited transport opportunities (microbuses and buses). The subway service needs to be expanded to distant areas such as the Fifth Settlement (where I go quite often), but I do not see how such public work could be funded. How is it possible to create settlements so far away without proper modes of transport? 2) to renew the buses and better organize the services with well planned connections.


How does your district fit within Cairo? What would you like to see changed in that relationship between your neighborhood and the city?
Maadi is an accessible area, but it is not so well connected to the city center (for European standards). They wrongly believe that if you live in an area, you make all your life there (work, leisure…) so you do not need to move around.


What are your top complaints about Cairo and what would you suggest to solve those problems?

Extreme social inequalities, with extremely wealthy and poor/working class neighborhoods side by side, with unequal services - Lack of quality public services and infrastructure (transport, health, garbage collection….) - Traffic, traffic, traffic - Lack of availability of apartments for rent at reasonable prices (although rents are going down in some areas) 1) The real problem: Cairo’s governance. If I have understood well, there are no elected local councils (at the level of both the whole city and districts), so there is no commitment to solve the city problems. Lack of transparency, commitment, responsiveness…One of the solutions: local elections, elected local councils, together with neighborhood committees with an advisory role or some kind of participatory democracy. Cairo inhabitants – excepted wealthy areas – are neglected, ignored; their voices are not heard in the city planning, management, administration…. Still, they know well what the problems are and should be involved in the solutions. 2) There is a need to have a better wealth distribution, through local taxes for companies and individuals (depending on their income) to create better infrastructure and a safety net for the most disadvantaged.


What do you like the most about Cairo and what are your favorite places in the city.

Cairo people is what I like the most. My favorite places in the city: - the old Islamic Cairo (which needs to be better valued, with more renovation projects that involve local inhabitants) and their popular neighborhoods - downtown architecture when Cairo wanted to be Paris, but unfortunately these beautiful buildings have been neglected for decades - the rive Nile

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?

I relate to the historic heritage of Cairo. I fell in love with Cairo many years ago. After Mubarak’s fall, I chose to move to Cairo. I am very much interested in the history of the city, the architecture of the Mameluk period, and later on, the colonial period… I am collecting old postcards of Cairo (1900-1918). When I look at Cairo, I do not see it only as it is now, I imagine also how it was. I would not say that I am proud of living in Cairo, but I am happy to have moved here (with all the good things and inconveniences) in the ongoing transition period.


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)?

The solution of Cairo’s problems lies in local governance. I was expecting after the parliamentary and presidential elections, local elections too… Again, it is not enough to have elected local councils: inhabitants need to be involved at the level of districts.


In the context of Cairo, what comes to mind when you think of these keywords?

Public Space: disrespect towards local inhabitants (these have no sense of “city/district/public space ownership”. There is no respect for local inhabitants… so these do not respect the public space.

Green Space/Parks: so few… so important to be proud of your city, to feel at ease, to build a sense of “community”. Al-Azhar park is a paradise. Wouldn’t it be possible to create small parks, as community projects, with the participation of local inhabitants?

Gated communities: urban apartheid

Museums there is no policy to use museums for pedagogical purposes (for youth and adults), for adult education. The cultural patrimony in a broad sense should not be for tourists only.

Informal areas: I do not know

Downtown: a neglected gem

If you could move to another district in Cairo where would you move to?
I am moving to Dokki very soon, where I used to live before. It is close to downtown without the disadvantages of the city center. I can walk to the Nile and downtown, which gives me a sense of freedom. I enjoyed walking there: many trees (it is relaxing), the area is well kept, many architecture treasures from colonial times (beautiful villas). The most important: there is in Dokki a neighborhood life.

*If you would like to tell us about where you live and share your views on Cairo, fill the survey by clicking here.

Resident Perspective: Mukattam

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?
Mokattam. It’s a great area though neglected by the government.

List the most positive and the most negative aspects of living there.
Positive: Clean air (much less pollution than the rest of Cairo). Semi quite (though I live on the main street and it’s noisy but like Mosadaq street for example). Got all services (Water, electricity and natural gas). Shops are not expensive as Zamalek (though it’s a little more expensive than the rest of Cairo).

Negative: Not enough transport. The main mode of method is microbus which means you’re under the mercy of the microbus drivers mafia. For example, during the demonstrations at the MB head quarters, the drivers increased the fare from 1.5 pounds to 2 pounds and didn’t enter Nafora sq (which is a major bus stop). Not enough buses. There is greenery but not enough. Too much sandy spaces without gardens. Poor pedestrian pavements. Low quality asphalt and bumpy roads.


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?
-Underground metro - Tram (if available and pops up at the station on time). - Public Buses (CTA normal and air-conditioned) - Mini Buses if available. - Microbuses - Taxis I would like to see more bus lanes (and the one at Salah Salem and Autostrade revived) and to have the tram network revived by upgrading the tracks and trains (example of good trams, Berlin and Bonn Trams). I would also love to see cycling lanes and proper pavements for pedestrians. In addition we should have more safe passage and pedestrians crossing areas (such as pedestrians traffic lights on major roads, tunnels and bridges that have escalators/elevators to accommodate for all people’s varying needs).


How does your district fit within Cairo? What would you like to see changed in that relationship between your neighborhood and the city?
It’s central, though kind of isolated but connect through microbuses and mini bus lanes. Mokattam is well connected by road though, having exits on Salah Salem, autostrade, Ring road, Carrefour and ElShaheed corridor.


What are your top complaints about Cairo and what would you suggest to solve those problems?

Pollution (Air and Noise (car honks and sellers yelling to sell their products)) solution: plant more trees, gardens and reallocate unnecessary buildings out of Cairo (storage warehouse, factories, huge companies that have a lot of vehicles and no parking space). Traffic: Solution (Short term: Educated and re train all Egyptian drivers, cause most of the traffic is actually due to driver attitude. Paint lanes on the streets correctly with correct traffic signs. Make sure current buses are functioning at full performance. revive bus lanes. make shuttle buses between neighborhoods and the nearest metro stations. LONG TERM: expand and revive tram network. remove all factories from Greater Cairo and send them near to sea ports or to Upper Egypt. Re allocate Government buildings and it’s employee to new areas and provide incentives for professionals to leave Cairo (build more schools/hospitals. provide better salaries/lifestyle for out of Cairo jobs and residents). Have a PROPER PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AND RAIL NETWORK!. Waste Management: Solution: Encourage separation of waste at the source (split glass, plastic, metal, food etc). re allocate zabalen factories to the vast desert on Ring road facing New Cairo (behind elWafa we elamel landfill area). Provide zabaleen proper homes in new Cairo and proper tools/cars for garbage collection


What do you like the most about Cairo and what are your favorite places in the city.

Cairo Metro, the cultural scene, Zamalek and Downtown.

Favorite places: Townhouse Gallery, Tak3eiba (cafe), Bikya Cafe in Nasr City.

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?

I would love to but don’t have enough info or access to it. Thankfully Cairobservers is trying to do that (right?)


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)?

Yes, I studied political science and local political systems at college.


In the context of Cairo, what comes to mind when you think of these keywords?

Green Space/Parks: Love and Nature

Gated communities: Isolation

Museums Love and art

Informal areas: Poor areas that need to be fixed/reallocated

Downtown: Love <3 an area that needs to regenerated :)

If you could move to another district in Cairo where would you move to?
Zamalek or downtown. Yes, I would love to add that Cairo is not sustainable any more!

*If you would like to tell us about where you live and share your views on Cairo, fill the survey by clicking here.

Resident Perspective: Dokki

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?
Dokki, like the rest of the country, covers a spectrum of contradictions, whether in regards to its architecture, its residences, or the governmental services or sidewalks.

List the most positive and the most negative aspects of living there.
Positive: Quite central, but far away from problem zones. Close to Metro and main Microbus lines. Negative: Where I live is quite a walk away from any cafes or restaurants, so hopping out for a nice dinner or meeting someone for a quick bite is not always easy. There are no green spaces.


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?
Metro and on foot. I have not used microbuses in a few years, since harassment started really getting to me, (not just sexual, but the “hello welcome to Cairo” type as well). When traffic is not *too* bad, I sometimes take a Taxi. I only drive when leaving the City. I would love to see a Metro station in more central areas of Mohandesin, Zamalek and Heliopolis; it would make getting around much easier. A less hostile atmosphere in microbuses would also be very welcome.


How does your district fit within Cairo? What would you like to see changed in that relationship between your neighborhood and the city?
It is well connected and accessible from most areas of the City. El Gam’a bridge is a practical alternative artery to use when Tahrir or 6th October are closed.


What are your top complaints about Cairo and what would you suggest to solve those problems?

Complaints: 1) Traffic, ensuing pollution & stress. 2) Limited walking possibilities (decaying sidewalks, trash, men). 3) The centralization of everything, causing mass influx of non-Cairenes into the already choking city. Solutions? Decentralisation of as many institutions as possible, and providing the necessary facilities in other governorates and cities to keep people away from being lured to move into the Capital. Fighting against the culture that believes living in Cairo is all that prestigious. Is there really a solution to traffic? Better public transport, perhaps? But then you will have to provide safe transport for women (although I hate segregation), and fight the imaginary prestige that comes with owning a car. Is Cairo’s infrastructure able to accommodate transportation that will in turn accommodate all the commuters? Further, I find someone living in Heliopolis and commuting daily to 6th of October for work just absurd.


What do you like the most about Cairo and what are your favorite places in the city.

It is difficult to vocalize what I love about Cairo. It is home, it is who I am. My favourite places: 1) The walk on Qasr El Nil bridge is heaven for me. 2) I love the whimsical architectural gems here and there, so the walk on 15th of May bridge through Zamalek and then into Boulak fills me with happiness. And then I get angry about the state of things. 3) The side alleys. Any side alley. The balconies & the people sitting there, the kids on their bikes, the shop keepers having discussions with the people on the balconies, the breeze of cool wind in summer.

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?

How does anyone relate to historic heritage? Yes, I have a good sense of the city and it is my pride.


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)?

Certainly, community involvement in local government would be great. However, it will filter down to one driven person doing all the work, and all the other neighbors not caring unless there is an issue affecting them directly.


In the context of Cairo, what comes to mind when you think of these keywords?

Green Space/Parks: dawsha, 3eyal bitigry, zibala. (noisy, kids running around, trash).

Gated communities: Waste of space and money. We need more affordable housing, less manzara 3ala omina.

Museums There are tons of museums with amazing collections (not just antiquities). They need to be revived and have a presence in their direct communities, and be accessible to visitors from all over.

Informal areas: People have to live, and they will do whatever needs to be done for them to have a roof over their heads.

Downtown: Remains of an era long gone, an era we should be not feel nostalgic about, because we never lived it, and our parents and grandparents only recall the good things about it.

If you could move to another district in Cairo where would you move to?
Nowhere

*If you would like to tell us about where you live and share your views on Cairo, fill the survey by clicking here.