A new community in Egypt: Why walk when you can skate?

Omneya Yousry, Saturday 16 Jan 2021

A group of young people in Cairo and Alexandria are building a roller-skating community to raise awareness of the sport and show off the beauty of Egyptian venues


Going around on roller-skates can feel like flying through space. Moving speedily, feeling the air hitting your face, being in front of others, and going around without the need to respect the rules – all these things can be true when you try roller-skating.

You may have seen people skating in the streets before, or you may not. It doesn’t matter: you are sure to catch up with some of them sooner or later as long as Nasr Skater and his team, a group of young roller-skaters, continue their activities.

“People love roller-skaters. They admire what we are doing, and our group is getting bigger as a result,” said Nasr Atef, the 24-year-old founder of the “Skate with Us” roller-skating group, whose nickname is Nasr Skater. Atef has decided to take his hobby to a higher level. Instead of using it to fill some leisure time, he has joined with other skaters to raise awareness about beautiful places in Egypt and to develop a new and cheerful activity in the streets of Cairo and Alexandria that is now spreading all over the country.  

When Atef started his skating journey back in 2016, he trained himself on the roof of his building. But he quickly became an expert, and he started to take his first steps onto the streets. Atef used to skate with his friend Mohamed Said in the beginning. “I felt right wearing skates, and I haven’t stopped since then. I started to make videos skating in Alexandria, and then I posted these on Facebook groups. Other people got inspired and contacted me as they wanted to join in the skating,” he said.

Atef and friends Omneya Hosny, Youmna Osman, Omar Osama and Habiba Ahmed used to go out skating together, and they decided to turn what at first had simply been a leisure activity into a bigger team. Together, they created a Facebook group called “Skate in Egypt” that aims to form community, raise awareness and provide support for those wanting to start skating.  

“Our eventual aim is to get government support in order to train more young people in skating and to raise awareness of all the wonderful places in our country through skating videos. In order to do so, we need Ministry of Youth and Sports support,” Atef said.

“Without this support, we can’t be an official sport union and won’t be able to formally give training or video tourist attractions. We would like to see dedicated skate parks like those in Europe, so we can practise and train others safely. Another thing we would like to see is locally made skates, as the ones in Egypt at the moment are all imported, and they can be very expensive as a result,” he added.

“There is also a need to get official permissions to skate at various venues.”

Many such activities focusing on movement became more popular in Egypt during the Covid-19 lockdown as the roads suddenly became more friendly to walking and similar activities. There was a decrease in the traffic and an increase in free time for many. It was then that Atef and his team started to go on more skating tours and were able to video more places.

“We would like to have the chance to make more professional videos and visit more places and broadcast our films on official platforms. But this won’t be possible unless we can get the support of the ministry and work under its name,” Atef said.


People love to watch skating. It’s catchy, and it stirs feelings of freedom and release. “We have had some business offers for product ads already. And meanwhile I have been teaching myself how to make videos with my mobile without shaking. My mobile, a 360 camera, and an invisible selfie-stick are all the tools we need for video production,” Atef said.

The Skate in Egypt group now has some 5,000 members, but only around 300 of these actually skate on a regular basis. One of them is Youmna Othman, 24, who is a very active member and acts as a coordinator with Atef.

“I used to play with skates during my childhood, but I stopped when I was nine years old. However, I didn’t stop loving the feeling of freedom, something that makes me feel alive. I resumed skating last August after I watched videos made by Atef and the group,” Othman said.

“A main roller-skating event was on 18 December in Alexandria when more than 70 people came from all over Egypt, including from Cairo, Suez, Port Said and Ismailia. Our next event will be in February in Cairo. We also have a practice session every Friday at the Al-Montaza Park in Alexandria. Anyone who likes to join is welcome,” she added.

“We are looking for more support as what we do is a form of tourism promotion. Sometimes we hear comments from passers-by like ‘wow, are we in America or what?’”

The youngest team member is Mohamed Hassan, 14, who started roller-skating by chance after having intended to buy a skate board. “My dream is to become a roller-skater on YouTube. So, I’m practising intensively to master skating. I have all the support I need from my mother, and this gives me confidence,” Hassan said.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 14 January, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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