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.
2007, July 17: Cairo's Governor, H.E. Dr. Abdel Azim Wazir, and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture's General Manager, Mr. Luis Monreal, today signed an historic Public-Private Partnership (PPP) linking Al-Azhar Park, a future 'Urban Plaza' project at the northern end of the Park, and ongoing work by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in Darb al-Ahmar. [AKDN]
2007, October 25:Egypt's Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni and Prince Karim Aga Khan, the current Shi'a Imam, will inaugurate two Islamic complex of Khayer Bek and Um El-Soltan Shaban at Al-Darbul Ahmar area in Historic Cairo. The two have been restored in collaboration with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture. The Minister and his guests will embark on a tour to inspect the restoration work. [Inauguration]
2007, October 26:In a ceremony here today, His Highness the Aga Khan, His Excellency Farouk Hosni, Egypt's Minister of Culture, Dr. Abdel Azim Wazir, the Governor of Cairo, inaugurated the restoration and revitalisation of two historic complexes in the city's Darb al-Ahmar district. [Press Release] [Speech]
CLOSING REMARKS AT THE NINTH SEMINAR IN THE SERIES ARCHITECTURAL TRANSFORMATIONS IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD OF THE AGA KHAN AWARD FOR ARCHITECTURE - 1984-11-15Posted March 24th, 2010 by heritage
Your Excellency the First Deputy Prime Minister, Your Excellency the Governor of Cairo, Distinguished guests
SPEECH BY H. H. The Aga Khan AT THE FOURTH CEREMONY OF THE AGA KHAN AWARD FOR ARCHITECTURE - Cairo - 1989-10-15Posted March 24th, 2010 by heritage
Madame Mubarak, Your Excellencies, Honourable Ministers, Distinguished Guests
Mawlana Hazar Imam on Monday 10th December, 1990 signed a Protocol of Agreement on behalf of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture with the Governor of Cairo H.E. Mahmoud Sherif for the creation of a public park in one of historic Cairo's last remaining open spaces.
Most urban areas have one - an area that is a sort of no-man's land where no-one lives and which becomes ever more rundown.In Cairo this was the case of the land adjoining the Darb al-Ahmar district. For almost a millennium assorted dust, debris and rubbish was piled up along the eastern rim of Cairo's medieval city walls.
Even though it lies close to the popular sites of medieval Cairo, the area was off the tourist track, blighted by prowling drug dealers and stranded between the Salah Salim highway and the City of the Dead.
On summer nights in downtown Cairo, the streets seethe with people in such numbers that the cars, for once, have to stop for them.Cairenes aren't out shopping, since most are broke. They're out breathing (or trying to) amid earsplitting, noxious traffic. The Nile bridges are favorite promenades, the river ensuring cooler air; some families even picnic there, their backs to the stream of cars.
Your Excellency the Governor
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am very, very happy to be here this morning to be able to express to you my warm and deep gratitude for everything that you all have done to make this Park become a reality.
The existence of the Park is proof of brotherhood, proof of aspiration towards moving towards a common goal which is to create in Cairo a place which is beautiful where all generations could find happiness and peace, where all people from different economic levels could feel comfortable as they perambulate throughout this space.
Cairo to be Garden City once again-The building of a park reverses centuries of neglect and uncovers historic treasures - 2005-03-12Posted February 25th, 2010 by heritage
In the desert, an oasis is akin to paradise and in the sands of Egypt, many of history's greatest gardens flowered on the banks of the Nile.But in Cairo, a city of 16 million people that has ballooned on the ruins of many Islamic dynasties from the 8th century Abbasid Caliphs to 19th century Ottomans, there has been, for several generations, barely a footprint of unbuilt open space for each of the city's inhabitants.
A leading architect unearths the history and scrutinizes the design of Cairo's new civic gem, Al-Azhar Park - 2005-03-24Posted February 25th, 2010 by heritage
Until recently, the only vantage point from which to view Cairo's historic skyline of minarets and domes up close was the Citadel. Thanks to the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), Cairo now boasts a 30-hectare park uniquely situated among some of the city's most historically significant Islamic monuments that provides breathtaking panoramic views of the Islamic skyline. What many visitors to Al-Azhar Park don't realize, however, is that the park was constructed on top of mounds of debris that date back to Fatimid Cairo.
The Al-Azhar Park is important for tourists to Egypt because this hilly site is surrounded by the most significant historic districts of Islamic Cairo. This is one of the primary destinations for many visitors to the city, and this new park located in its heart provides many advantages, including a wonderful view of the surrounding area.