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Pockets of Peace: Egyptian Illustrator Captures Magical Moments of Cairo At Night

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Pockets of Peace: Egyptian Illustrator Captures Magical Moments of Cairo At Night

A bank security guard spends his night shift with a cat and his mobile phone. Illustration by Ahmed Saad.

Daytime in Cairo is a carnival of sights and sounds: from the cries of street vendors and deafening car horns in the rush hour bustle, to unending construction projects and hauls of colourful produce piled up in the backs of trucks weaving their way through traffic.

To put some distance between himself and this sensory kerfuffle, digital artist and screenwriter Ahmed Saad, 35, decided to paint the contrasting picture. ‘Cairo at night’ was his inspiration when he started a project to get his mind off the stress in his life.

 

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“When I first started this I only thought of it as a form of stress relief for myself. Pictures with a bit of animation and music to give them a bit more soul,” Saad tells Egyptian Streets.

But when he took to Twitter to post the first animation in the series – a typical Egyptian kiosk, or koshk, manned by its drowsy-looking owner, Hammo, while Umm Kalthoum’s Enta Omri plays in the background – Saad’s work garnered plenty of attention.

 

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“I started receiving so many replies and direct messages from people describing to me how my animation made them feel, and it was the exact same feeling that I had when I was creating the animation in the first place,” he says.

While Cairo is a city that never truly sleeps, Saad spies the pockets of peace that can be found when the sun goes down, and seeks to capture moments that encapsulate them.

“You can essentially consider these videos a series of moments happening in a number of spots in the same night in Cairo,” he explains. “I wanted to create moments that were familiar to a lot of people.”

 

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And indeed, whether it be the music in the background, the location, or the scene, there is always an element in Saad’s animations that an Egyptian viewer would unequivocally recognize.

“Mohamed Mounir is the closest one to my heart,” says Saad in answer to the question of which of the animations he likes best. With legendary Nubian singer Mounir’s song Shababeek (Windows) playing in the background, the animation Saad is referring to shows a man leaning onto a FIAT 127, smoking a cigarette and staring out onto the retro neon advertisements flashing at the tops of buildings around the Nile. “I’ve always wished I had lived through that era, the late 70s or early 80s.”

 

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With the latest animation having been posted as recently as 3 September, Saad’s followers await what new pockets of peace the former copywriter and art director has in store for them.

Saad’s art can be found on his Twitter and Instagram accounts, where he regularly posts his animations and illustrations.

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Senior Editor at Egyptian Streets and Adjunct Professor at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the American University in Cairo. Holds a master's degree in Global Journalism from the University of Sheffield, where she wrote a dissertation about the effect of disinformation on the profession of journalism. Passionate about music, story-telling, baking, social justice, and taking care of her plants. "If you smell something, say something." -Jon Stewart, 2015

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