Arts & Culture

In Photos: Finding the Arabic Letter in Every Cairo Corner

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In Photos: Finding the Arabic Letter in Every Cairo Corner

The Beit El Shaer building in Moez Street, utilizing three different forms of the Arabic letter. Photo courtesy of Noran Morsi.

Cairo is a city full of art, architecture, design, and culture. Often people forget that this age-old city is more than its traffic and its summer heat. From Islamic architecture to Coptic architecture, to Arabic calligraphy, the Arabic letter, the street signs and corner shops, there is a lot of visual inspiration to be gained from Cairo.

Egypt is, of course, an Arabic-speaking country, and while Spoken Arabic is well and good, Standard Arabic is considered to be in danger, as less and less people are unequipped to teach it, and “as it fails to modernize.

How Standard Arabic persists in Cairo is in the Art, and in the written work of the Arabic letter that manifests itself in buildings, food carts, streets signs, lamps, graffiti and old literature. As Cairo continues to “modernize” and increase its bilingual and English-spoken art and content, Arabic mostly survives in the old and tucked away.

Hand lettered and designed graphics for the “‘Arooset Sayedna AlHussein” food cart in Khan El Khalili. Photo courtesy of Noran Morsi.
The neon signs of “Fatatri Al Hussain” or “Egyptian Pancakes in Al Hussain, Cairo. Photo courtesy of Noran Morsi.
Arabic and Coptic inscriptions in Coptic Cairo near Mar Girgis. Photo courtesy of Noran Morsi.
Arabic calligraphy on traditional light lamps sold in Khan El Khalili. Photo courtesy of Noran Morsi.
Arabic and English Hand Lettered branding of a natural leather store in Khan El Khalili. Photo courtesy of Noran Morsi.
Street Graffiti in the Korba neighborhood of Cairo. Photo courtesy of Noran Morsi.
The Qalawun Complex in Moez Street with Quranic text incorporated in the walls. Photo courtesy of Noran Morsi.
Gold plated Islamic text outside the Qalawun Complex in Moez Street. Photo courtesy of Noran Morsi.
A collection of Egyptian book covers from the Mid to late 1900s. Photo courtesy of Noran Morsi.
Fading Arabic calligraphy on lamps in a mosque in Islamic Cairo. Photo courtesy of Noran Morsi.
Multilingual Street Signs and Store Signs in Khan El Khalili. Photo courtesy of Noran Morsi.

 

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Arts & Culture Reporter. Writer and multidisciplinary artist with a passion for podcasting and theatre. Pre-pandemic, can be spotted getting work done from a Cairo coffee shop, train in Delhi or a New York subway. Intra-pandemic, works at a sunny window with lots of iced coffee.

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