• Sameh Soltan, a bread vendor: In Egyptian Arabic, “bread” and “life” are the same word. “I feel bad for the customers because prices are going up." Soltan sells bread in the Cairo suburbs. He learned how to balance the bread on his head from his brother and they carry the bread without vehicles because the cost of transportation would further raise prices in their already poor community. “It looks like I work in circus and it's fun. But no it's really tiring job. Everyday I go back home sleep like I’m dead."
    • Ahmed Magdy, 19, a high school student from Old Cairo: "Sometimes we play football at the university, but mostly we play in our neighborhood we still we play in the street." He is also a fan of Egyptian professional football. “There are not many sports club available in Cairo, and those available are too expensive for me. I can’t afford membership.”
    • Ahmed Hassan, 30, an artist: "There are many distracting factors living in the city and to get yourself to really focused on something it requires some effort," he said while waiting for his friends at a café in an upscale suburb. “I like sitting on a cafes and reading books, in Cairo’s old areas like Downtown, Garden City, Zamalek and Maadi. In many parts of Cairo, there is too much noise, which makes it hard to enjoy reading in public.”
    • Ismael, 54: “I’m from Sohag in Upper Egypt,” he said referring to his hometown about 500 kilometers from Cairo. Ismael works in the plastic recycling industry but he was unemployed at home and only goes back to visit relatives that are farmers. “I find it better for me to work in Cairo. I couldn’t find a good job in Sohag. You may find work for a single day, but then you will stay home for a month."
    • Ashraf, 19, from a crowded urban neighborhood in Cairo: “The main problem for me is people here don’t smile enough.” Free to wander the streets now, he is under investigation and could face three years in jail for violating laws that have restricted protesting since 2013. Despite the charges, he said, he is hopeful. “I like walking in Cairo and just watching people and shop windows. I love to be optimistic smile at life and it will smile back at you."
    • Maher, 56, a father of five children who works in a wheat storage facility: “I was working in Jordan on a chicken farm, but I cam back here because my visa was finished and I couldn’t renew it. Life here is hard here, but it’s still my country.”
    • Emad Girgis, 60, a Christian from about 250 kilometers outside Cairo: “Our home city is too dangerous and hostile so I’m living here with my family. We miss the rest of our family but it’s safer here. There were big problems there so we moved. These days we go home to visit sometimes on special occasions, it would be hard to move back permanently there because our lives are established here."

    Joys and Sorrows of Life in Cairo

    Heather Murdock

    Published June 25, 2016

    Personal struggles in the Middle East’s largest city are as varied as the city’s eclectic landscape, with ancient urban neighborhoods, breezy suburban residences and sometimes dusty, crowded streets, all sprawling along side the Nile River. Among the visitors and residents of Cairo are Egyptian people struggling with everything from high prices and scarce jobs to finding a good place to play football. On the streets of the Egyptian capital photographer Hamada Elrasam finds insight into the joys and sorrows of life in Cairo.


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