SCA head tours historic Cairo, demands clean-up

Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 12 Oct 2011

Antiquities czar visits Old Cairo's recently-restored Al-Muizz Street only to find that chaos still reigns

Al-Muizz street, photo Sherif Sonbol
Al-Muizz street (Photo: Sherif Sonbol)

Moustafa Amine, secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, took an unscheduled tour of Old Cairo’s historic Al-Muizz Street on Wednesday to inspect the street’s recently-restored Islamic monuments.

During his tour, Amine was reportedly angered to find that the area had been largely taken over by street peddlers and fruit vendors. Amine also found that the street was being used as a shortcut for automobiles, turning the courtyards of the area’s Fatimid and Ottoman mosques into parking lots.

The court in front of the Ibn Barquq Mosque, for example, had been transformed into a food court where wooden hand carts laden with koshari, hummus, liver and brains serve local patrons. A coffee shop with a dozen small tables, meanwhile, had sprung up next to the Beit Al-Suheimi, one of the area's oldest and most beautiful houses.

In 2008, following an eight-year renovation campaign costing some LE850 million, the area was officially reopened after the street’s 34 registered monuments – along with another 67 Islamic edifices in adjacent alleyways – had been restored.  

The street was confined to pedestrian traffic from 7am to midnight, however, so that Egyptian visitors and foreign tourists might enjoy the monuments in their original, car-less environment. Street selling is only allowed outside these hours.

Following his tour, Amine reportedly requested that the Tourism and Antiquities Police remove these recent encroachments on Al-Muizz Street to protect the integrity of the area’s newly-renovated historical landmarks.

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