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In Photos: a Kaleidoscope of Egypt’s Trades and Crafts

March 6, 2023

Some professions in Egypt – fishing, shoe-making, building, and dyeing among others – have existed in the country for thousands of years. Passed down from one generation to the next, these enduring professions reflect years of discipline, endurance, and, sometimes, physical as well as mental strain.

While many crafts and trades face the prospects of extinction due to fast-paced globalization and an increasingly popular ‘office’ and corporate culture, the few manual professions left offer a peek into a world undergoing the waves of change. Largely manual, crafts and trades in Egypt are practiced by men and women alike; they are strongly linked to specific traditions of craftsmanship and industries in each governorate in the country.

In this photo essay, Egyptian Streets has compiled works capturing the essence of work from its ‘Egypt: 10 Years Later’ exhibition call.


Snapped in 2022,  this picture was taken in the village of Hijaza Kebli in the city of Qus (Qena), in southern Egypt, during the harvest of the Shami corn crop. Two farmers work the field and the machines harvest the crop and which transform some of it into hay as fodder for livestock and animals. Photo credit: Mohamed Saeed Abdel Shafie


This 2022 shot is of Bougie, a beloved puppet character in Egypt, in Alexandria. Costume wearers work long hours, and sometimes in difficult circumstances. Photo credit: Kareem Galal
“I think I have always heard about the stories of fishermen on the high seas and what happened to them, but I have never seen them before in reality. One day, I spontaneously decided to pay a visit to Balteem. I visited at exactly seven in the morning, it was winter and the sea was violent, and only then did I learn to discern dedication to work in the best way: the Egyptian fisherman”. Photo credit: Nada Maged


“In light of the recent events and progress our society was going through, many simple crafts were forgotten, such as dyeing yarn and foundry. I tried to capture the hard-working faces and work environment of such crafts.” Photo credit: Abdelrahman Ashraf Ahmed


In the Menoufia Livestock Market, which is held every Tuesday of the week, men display their livestock for sale. Photo credit: Abdulrahman Adriano
In the Menoufia Livestock Market, which is held every Tuesday of the week, men display their livestock for sale. Photo credit: Abdulrahman Adriano


“Bridge; a high structure built to allow people to cross from one side to the other. This scene encompasses the process of constructing and shaping our future, representing a vantage point between the past (first side) and the future (the other side), between what was built and what is yet to be built. A sight that became normal in our everyday lives, but from which there is no return”. Photo credit: Farah Tarek


Shoe-making using wooden models – an old trade in Egypt and abroad. “A carpenter in al-Darb al-Ahmar area who specializes in making shoe molds works hard to make a living”. Photo credit: Mohamed Karam.


Almost in all places where fish is sold, it is also cooked and sold. In port and seaside villages and cities, fishermen or vendors grill fish for their hungry customers. Photo credit: Omnia Abdel Fatah


On the Nile Corniche in Cairo, many baked-goods sellers in Egypt carry secret. These individuals roam the streets and even bridges to stell the rounded baked goods. Photo credit: Mustafa Ali Mustafa

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