Last Update 20:33
Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Umm Kalthoum stands alone in historic Cairo famed cafe

Usually a bustling cafe full of life, in Ramadan this year — amid the coronavirus scare — the Umm Kalthoum Cafe in Khan El-Khalili stands empty

Rania Refaei, Sunday 3 May 2020
Umm Kalthoum
(Photo: El-Sayed Abdel-Kader)
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Each year during Ramadan, having finished praying at El-Husseini Mosque located Cairo's historic Khan El-Khalili, crowds would move to the Umm Kalthoum Cafe close by.
 
Here, seated next to the sculpture representing the Star of the Orient, and many photographs recalling the famed singer as well as other artists, customers would sip tea and enjoy sweets characteristic of the holy month in Islam.
 
However, this year, due to the coronavirus, curfew and lockdown, Um Kalthoum stands alone guarding the empty coffee shop. There are no visitors, no buzz, and no bystanders.
 
A few steps from Moez Street, near Khan El-Khalili and Bab El-Futuh, the Umm Kalthoum Cafe is among the most frequently attended spots of historic Cairo. Here, her songs are played throughout the day.
 
El-Sett (The Lady), as she is affectionately referred to by Egyptians, Umm Kalthoum has remained one of the most famous voices of all time of the Arab world. As her memory continues to be cherished, she keeps returning in films, television series and concerts featuring singers presenting her repertoire. 
 
In March this year, the Cairo Opera House staged the first ever hologram concert on its main stage. The star of the concert was Umm Kalthoum.

Umm Kalthoum
(Photo: El-Sayed Abdel-Kader)

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