The lack of security in Egypt following the January 25 Revolution has taken its toll on Al-Muizz Street in Historic Cairo and its monumental edifices.
Peddlers, fruit vendors and grocers have moved in to sell their goods all over the street, often even on monuments themselves. The street is used as a shortcut for vehicles and has transformed the open courtyards of Fatimid and Ottoman mosques into parking lots or oriental cafeterias.
In addition, some monumental edifices within the street have been subject to robbery and defacement. For example, the golden star that once decorated the entrance gate of Ibn Barquq Mosque was reported missing, as well as other decorative items in Beit Al-Suheimi and Al-Refaie Mosque.
Now, after two years of disarray, Al-Muizz Street is to regain its serenity. The Ministry of State for Antiquities (MSA) is finally to launch a facelifting project to develop Al-Muizz Street. Today, the concerned MSA committee is to open a bidding period to select the most suitable company to carry out the important restoration project.
Mohamed Abdel Aziz, director of the Historic Cairo Rehabilitation Project (HCRP), says that the project includes the repair of hydraulic barriers erected in 2008 to prevent cars and vehicles entering the street, supposedly left for pedestrians only. The project also aims at removing all encroachment on the street and its monuments by peddlers, vegetable and fruit vendors, and cafeterias.
For example, the open courtyard in front of the Ibn Barquq Mosque, which is in the monument's heritage zone, has been transformed into a folkloric food court where colourful wooden hand carts laden with koshari (a rice and macaroni dish), liver, brains and hummus (chick-pea paste) serve pedestrians and workers in the neighbourhood.
Meanwhile, the empty space between te Beit Al-Suheimi and the house next door is now a coffee shop with a dozen small iron tables and wooden chairs.
MSA Minister Mohamed Ibrahim told Ahram Online that work in the street has already started. Egypt Sound and Light Company, which previously installed the lighting system in the street is working at full swing. It is repairing all damaged lamp stands or replacing deteriorating ones.
Electric golf carts, asserted Ibrahim, are back to service but on a low scale. They serve only old age visitors to the street and not all visitors, as it used to be, until all carts are repaired.
The HCRP was given the go-ahead in 2000 and Al-Muizz Street officially reopened in 2008, with the street showing off its original splendour and allure. With magnificent Islamic monuments in their original environment, people were invited to experience the living traditions and customs of various ages of the Islamic era.
Trading is only allowed outside daytime hours.