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2004-11 Al-Azhar Park Cairo

In the heart of Old Cairo, on the edge of a slum, a park is born. Yasmine El-Rashidi watches a phoenix emerge from the ashes. Cairo is a city of streets, pavements and apartment blocks. A city committed to tarmac and concrete, with a very low tolerance for nature and open space. Not only does it have no equivalent of London's Hyde Park or New York's Central Park, but even a truncated version of those urban gardens has always seemed an unlikely eventuality. But we should remember that the city's relentlessly urban texture is a relatively recent phenomenon. The Cairo that was rebuilt by the Fatimids (969-974) and named Al-Qahira ("the victorious") consisted of 20 per cent open space (30 hectares) -- and this balance was preserved by both the Ayubids and the Mamelukes after them.

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