“You feel like everything has changed while still staying the same.” This was how Khaled Al Kammar, an Egyptian composer, described life in Egypt in 2002 in comparison to 2022.
In the early 2000s, Egyptian megastar Amr Diab aired several television ads for Pepsi, capturing the hearts of teens, and Egyptian singer Ruby was on music channels in most Egyptian homes, with girls imitating her iconic stationary bike performance and their parents disapproving. The Egyptian public was witnessing an obvious transformation in the world of music.
Out of sheer curiosity, Al Kammar, who has always been interested in the relationship and connection between culture and music, decided to contemplate his own teenage years, and explore what was happening on Egyptian streets in the early 2000s, to create such music at the time.
“An irresistible wave of nostalgia has stormed our lives recently. So I thought about my own teenage years, especially since so much was happening. Life was just starting to change in Egypt with the internet and satellite television channels,” Al Kammar tells Egyptian Streets.
Over the course of one year, Al Kammar collected pictures of Egypt and Egyptians from social media, photo albums, magazines, and archives, documenting their lives 20 years ago. During his research, he was keen on collecting photos that were not taken at conferences, official events, or festivals.
“They were all random photos, which is why I felt like they truly represented this time frame,” he adds.
With price hikes, a pandemic, increased burnout and stress among youth, and a struggle to cope with their everyday lives, many Egyptians often resort to nostalgia as their safe haven. However, in Al Kammar’s words, the most prominent observation he made was that “people looked so depressed, no one was smiling in any of the photos”.
Would Egyptians walking on the street today be smiling in photos, or would they look just the same? Take a look at the nostalgic photo collection and see if you agree with Al Kammar.
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