Cairo is a 1,400-year old metropolis whose streets are inscribed with sagas, a place where the pressures of life test people’s equanimity to the limit. Virtually surrounded by desert, sixteen million Cairenes cling to the Nile and each other, proximities that color and shape lives. Packed with incident and anecdote, Cairo: City of Sand describes the city’s given circumstances and people’s attitudes of response. Apart from a brisk historical overview, this book focuses on the present moment of one of the world’s most illustrious and irreducible cities. Cairo steps inside the interactions between Cairenes, examining the roles of family, tradition, and bureaucracy in everyday life. The book explores Cairo’s relationship with its ‘others,’ from the French and British occupations to modern influences like tourism and consumerism. Cairo also discusses characteristic styles of communication, and linguistic memes, including slang, grandiloquence, curses, and jokes. Cairo exists by virtue of these interactions, synergies of necessity, creativity, and the presence or absence of power. Cairo, City of Sand reveals a peerless urban balancing act, and transmits the city’s overriding message: the breadth of the human capacity for loss, astonishment, and delight.
City of Sand
For sale only in the Middle East
A Photographer on the Hajj
The Travels of Muhammad ‘Ali Effendi Sa‘udi (1904/1908)
Farid Kioumgi Robert Graham
The Travels of Muhammad ‘Ali Effendi Sa‘udi (1904/1908)Farid Kioumgi
The diaries of Muhammad ‘Ali Effendi Sa‘udi, a civil servant and accomplished photographer, offer a rare glimpse of the Hajj through Egyptian eyes at the beginning of the twentieth century when the Ottoman Empire was on the wane and the advance of the Hijaz railway threatened to upset vested interests in the old pattern of pilgrimage.
Sa‘udi twice accompanied the Amir al-Hajj, Ibrahim Rif‘at Pasha, attached to the official Egyptian caravan. His story of these journeys combines the thoughts of a devout Muslim with fine detail on the hardships and health hazards facing pilgrims, the high-level intrigues, and the ever-present dangers of taking photographs.
The authors have compressed the diaries into a highly readable narrative with selected quotations, lavishly illustrated with Sa‘udi’s remarkable photographs....read more
15 November 2009
80 b/w photographs
Cairo’s Street Stories
Exploring the City’s Statues, Squares, Bridges, Gardens, and Sidewalk Cafés
Exploring the City’s Statues, Squares, Bridges, Gardens, and Sidewalk CafésLesley Lababidi
In 1872, Ismail Pasha, the khedive of Egypt, was the first to adopt the European custom of positioning heroic statues on public display as a symbolic message of the continuing authority of the ruling Muhammad Ali dynasty to which he belonged, but it was not until the early twentieth century and the determination of sculptor Mahmoud Mukhtar that such public art gained general acceptance, and today statues stand, ride, or sit in the streets, squares, and gardens of Cairo. Each sculpture adds a piece to the jigsaw of history spanning personalities and events that shaped the city and wider Egypt from 1805 to 1970, and here Cairo-based author Lesley Lababidi provides a unique perspective on Egyptian history through looking at more than thirty statues and monumental sculptures and the stories behind them. Between statues, she explores Cairo’s growth and its multidimensional identity, as manifested in the development and changing use of city space over the centuries, and examines the relationship of Cairo’s modern denizens with the landscapes, districts, palaces, archaeological sites, cafés, bridges, and gardens of their great and maddening city, the Mother of the World. Illustrated throughout with color photographs and archival pictures, Cairo’s Street Stories presents a unique and lively view of the history that fashioned the city’s streets and open spaces, and of the many and often unexpected uses to which its inventive inhabitants put them....read more
15 April 2008
Over 100 color illus.
A Beirut Anthology
Travel Writing through the Centuries
Edited by T.J. Gorton
Travel Writing through the CenturiesEdited by T.J. Gorton
Beirut has seen many armies and empires come and go, but the legacy of this long history is not so much in surviving monuments as in the quintessential Levantine spirit of the people. A commercial hub since the days of the Phoenicians, it was a center of learning under the Romans, its law school pre-eminent in the Empire. Both currents are discernible today, with vibrant Arab, French, and American universities and more publishing houses than the rest of the Arab world coexisting with the most dynamic financial center in the Middle East. Beirut was the point of entry to the Levant for many Europeans and Americans undertaking a Grand Tour or a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and visitors (whether their focus was piously Biblical or more prosaic) recorded their impressions of this effervescent port city where East rubs against West. A Beirut Anthology gathers the choicest of these, from writers as diverse as Alphonse de Lamartine and Mark Twain, providing a surprising and vivid glimpse behind the veil of this elusive and alluring city....read more
1 August 2015
20 b/w illus.
Grand Hotels of Egypt
In the Golden Age of Travel
In the Golden Age of TravelAndrew Humphreys
From the earliest resthouses serving travelers on the Overland Route between Britain and Bombay to the grand Edwardian palaces on the Nile that made Egypt the exotic alternative to wintering on the Riviera, the hotels of Alexandria, Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan were always about far more than just bed and board. As bridgeheads for African exploration, neutral territories for conducting diplomacy, headquarters for armies, providers of home comforts for writers, painters, scholars, and archaeologists in the field, and social hubs for an international elite, more of importance happened in Egypt’s hotels than in any other setting. It was through the hotels that visitors from the west—the earliest adventurers, then the travelers and, finally, the tourists—experienced the Orient. This book tells the stories of Egypt’s historic hotels (including the Cecil, Shepheard’s, the Mena House, Gezira Palace, Semiramis, Winter Palace, and Cataract) and some of the people who stayed in them, from Amelia Edwards, Lucie Duff Gordon and Florence Nightingale to Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle, Winston Churchill, and TE Lawrence....read more
21 October 2015
274 illus., including 110 in color