For want of a metre: Iconic Fustat pottery factory may be lost

Amira Noshokaty , Sunday 25 Jun 2023

An iconic pottery factory in Fustat, Old Cairo may be demolished because it extends by just one metre into the path of new road construction.

Pottery makers
The pottery factory of the sheikh of pottery makers is at risk of demolition. Amira Noshokaty


Ashraf Abdeen, the owner of one of the oldest factories in the Fustat Pottery Village, explained to Ahram Online the difficult situation he finds himself in.

"Last Sunday, the head of Old Cairo municipality paid us a visit and said that the back end of our factory is in the way of the road development of the extension of El-Asher bridge."

"They already dug two metres from the road on our side, leaving us only the buffer area of the factory. However, they intend to take one more metre from our side, which means that the wall of the factory will be torn down.”

However, Abdeen pointed out that there is a hill in front of the factory where the metre can be taken from instead. The head of the municipality, according to Abdeen, promised to pass on their suggestion that would spare the factory.

The road expansion is part of a bigger plan to develop the Old Cairo district

Pottery has always been one of Egypt’s most prosperous handicrafts.

The Fustat Pottery village is part of Fustat, Egypt's first Islamic capital city, in Old Cairo. The village is located close to the Amr Ibn El-As Mosque, the first mosque to be built in Egypt, as well as Coptic Cairo.

Abdeen's grandfather, who started the workshop in 1920, was one of the icons of the craft and he was referred to as the “Sheikh of Pottery.”

In 1972, Abdeen’s father moved the workshop further down the block. In 1999/2000, the factory was remodeled with entrances and gateways with a grant from the European Union.

"I have represented Egyptian pottery abroad in France and Italy and I was awarded from each of such countries. I… have served my country the most possible way. This factory employs 40 workers in addition to single mothers, widows and youth with disabilities. Tens of artists were trained in our factory,” Abdeen said.

“We hope our voice will reach the authorities," he concluded.

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