Saturday, May 31, 2008

Rehabilitating Islamic Cairo

Al Ahram Weekly

Rehabilitating Islamic Cairo is part of the cultural heritage mission successfully accomplished by Jan Figel, the European commissioner for culture, education, training and youth, who was in Cairo last week to inaugurate a number of EU-funded cultural projects, Rania Khallaf reports

It is a long walk through the alleys of Khan Al-Khalili and Gammaliya to reach Wekalet Al-Maghrabi. On a sunny day the area is buzzing with tourists and street vendors, and this was just another routine day, nothing unusual. On one of the narrow streets of Wekalet Al-Maghrabi, however, a new mood had been growing. There, at 14 Wekalet Al-Maghrabi, stands the house of Farouk Abdel-Aal, which has been rebuilt and rehabilitated by the RehabiMed project sponsored by the European Union.

It was not only Abdel-Aal's house that was in need of urgent renovation to prevent imminent collapse. Twenty workshops specialising in producing metalwork such as plates and other household items were also in a state of deterioration. All were renovated and rehabilitated by the project. . . .

Wekalet Ahmed Al-Khatib, recently named Al-Maghrabi, includes four small industrial and traditional crafts for metal turning, metal washing and painting, manufacturing brushes and hand decorated brass. The wekala was constructed in the 18th century, and Ottoman architectural features are clearly visible. Shops and markets have always been a main feature of this relatively poor area, where urban development is slow.

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