Thursday, 20 April 2017

Q is for...what else? - Qahira!



is for
Qusai, from Saudi Arabia- here with Umm al Dunya, or the Mother of the World:





And here again is my fav Egyptian musician - Amr Diab, singing Qahira, featuring another well-known Egyptian artiste, nicknamed 'the King' – Mohammed Mounir. The video's subtitled, and Amr completely sums up my feelings on the subject :)




And that stringed instrument that the lady is playing? that's called the Qanun, part of traditional Arabic music ensembles, played by plucking with two thimble-like picks worn on each hand.  The Indian santoor is a close relative with the same Middle Eastern roots. 


Qahira!



Al Qahira is the Arabic name for Cairo, the largest city in the Arablands and also in Africa.  Including its greater metropolitan area, it is among the top 20 cities in the world in terms of size. Located on the river Nile, just before the delta fans out, its strategic position has meant that it has played an important role in Egypt since antiquity. It's called ‘Umm al Dunya’ or 'Mother of the World’ by local Cairenes, a nickname that's come about due to the impact of the city on the wider Arab culture.

The Sphinx and the Pyramid of Khafre just
outside Cairo on the Giza Plateau. 

Heliopolis on the East side was the site of the famous, ancient sun temple. Memphis, located 20 km away, was the capital of several Old Kingdom dynasties. The Romans built a fortress near Cairo and called it Babylon.  It's been a pivot of political, social and cultural life for millennia.

Sunset over the Qasr al Nil bridge, leading to Tahrir
Square, scene of protests during 2011. 

The Arabs conquered Egypt in 641 CE, and Fustat was their first capital located a little southwards from Cairo, the administrative hub for around 5 centuries.  

The minarets of Sultan Hassan and Al Rifai Mosques.

The Fatimid dynasty conquered Egypt in 969 and Al Qahira was built by Jawhar al Siqilli, a Sicilian slave and the commander in chief of Muiz li Din Allah, the fourth Fatimid Caliph.  

Salahuddin's Citadel, and Mohammed'd Ali Mosque within it, on the
right in the far distance. The Mosque more recent than the Citadel.
 

View of Cairo from the Citadel. Not for nothing is it known
as the City of a Thousand Minarets!

Salahuddin Ayyoub overthrew the Fatimids in 1170’s, realigned Cairo towards the Caliphate in Baghdad. He also built the Cairo Citadel which served as the seat of the government right up to the 19th century.

The Nile at night. The river has an enormous impact on Cairo
as well as Egypt as a whole. Egypt is because of the Nile.

In 1250, slave soldiers, known as Mamluks, took control of Cairo.  The city continued to flourish as a hub of the spice trade.  The Mamluks ruled till the Ottomans overthrew them in the 16th century and Cairo passed into Turkish hands.  

Sharia Khiyyamiya, or the Tentmakers' Street in Islamic Cairo.


Emad el Din Street in Downtown Cairo. In the 19th century,
Ismail Pasha, the then ruler of Egypt, remodelled/modernised
Cairo in the style of European capitals, especially Paris. He
also built the Suez Canal with huge loans from European banks, 

and these enormous debts meant Europeans soon sat on the 
Egyptian cabinet.


In the last few centuries, modern Cairo has seen a French invasion, become a British protectorate, been the venue for three national revolutions, and umpteen other politically, socially charged events. 






Did you know the Arabs are very foreigner-friendly? In twenty years, I remember meeting only two Arabs who were rude and Quarrelsome and they were both desperately unhappy people. In contrast, I’ve met many, many Arabs who went completely out of their way to help us - total strangers.


That’s not to say the guides and touts, cabbies and shopkeepers, won’t cheat sometimes, of course some of them will try. There are a few dodgy ones everywhere who spoil the majority-reputation. But the cheaters will do it with unfailing courtesy and a very articulate, not Quiet, charm :)





Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2017 


55 comments:

  1. Another fascinating post. I see you had no struggle coming up with Q words for your post. Me, I almost gave up!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Arabic has this extra K letter, a guttural K which is transliterated as Q - so I got lucky this year with my theme being what it is :)

      Delete
  2. Loved the musical tribute to Cairo.
    And echoing your words about Arab hospitality. My partner has met it so often. Strangers going out of their way to be helpful. Something I would be surprised to hear that Arab visitors to my 'civilised' country experience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can so relate to that. The lack of reciprocation from our side can be disheartening sometimes...

      Delete
  3. Those are amazing images! It feels like I just went on a mini culture tour. Thank you for that.

    J -- Co-host the #AtoZchallenge, Debut Author Interviewer, Reference and Speculative Fiction Writer
    http://jlennidornerblog.what-are-they.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That city is all kinds of super amazing to start with...very photogenic too :)

      Delete
  4. I found the locals in Egypt extremely friendly, particularly in Luxor, another town I totally fell in love with.

    Another day in Amble Bay!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Luxor is even warmer than Cairo, and Aswan too. Outside Cairo, wherever you go, people are less sophisticated and warmer, friendlier...it is easy to fall in love in Egypt :)

      Delete
  5. really want to make it to Cairo one day; great post as always!

    joy @ The Joyous Living

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cairo is a great place, fantastic buzz the city has...

      Delete
  6. A great "Q" post. The pictures look lovely and the places must be interesting to visit. Well done.

    Yvonne.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are indeed...fascinating places and the history is mind blowing. Not just Cairo, everywhere in Egypt.

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  7. Fascinating music, and Cairo is such an amazing place of history. More had happened there than any of us can imagine, i think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True. History can't ever be fully known 100%. It's what makes it so fascinating perhaps.

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  8. Quicken my heart in this amazing presentation. This edition was truly packed. Thank you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I could go on forever on this subject...there's so much to share :)

      Delete
  9. I had a feeling you would have no problems with the letter Q - I can't wait to see what you do with "X".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Q wasn't a problem...but X is worrisome...no X in Arabic, yikes!

      Delete
  10. Walking through Cairo with your eyes and narration was a wonderful experience!Any city that has a rich past and thriving present, make for an interesting place!
    ------------------------------------------------
    Anagha From Team MocktailMommies
    Collage Of Life

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally true that! Cairo in many ways reminded me of Delhi - equally rich past, many invaders, Islamic monuments, and a Ring Road :)

      Delete
  11. I am in love with Egypt and want to make a trip there for my 45th bday I think. Your posts are so lively and interesting, I wait for them everyday. This word is beautiful in the tongue - Qahira


    Qissa cafe in Fort Kochi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cairo was our first holiday trip when we came to ME ... Egypt makes a great holiday destination!

      Delete
  12. I am in love with Egypt and want to make a trip there for my 45th bday I think. Your posts are so lively and interesting, I wait for them everyday. This word is beautiful in the tongue - Qahira


    Qissa cafe in Fort Kochi

    ReplyDelete
  13. I must admit I like the more traditional music best!

    Finding Eliza

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for the history lesson. Had no idea of all the upheavals that had gone on - in fact, my knowledge stopped at the Pyramid of Giza!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Pyramids are of course the oldest monuments there. But many other historical sites/events in Cairo and in Egypt as a whole to explore...all equally interesting

      Delete
  15. Hi Nila - I know this will be a wonderful re-read ... I'll be back with some time to absorb, listen to the various 'interludes' you've put up for us ... and get to grips with a little of Arabiana's history ... and take in your photos etc ... cheers Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/q-is-for-quirky-quizzy-facts-and-quaggas.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anytime, Hilary. I am finding a whole raft of posts myself to go over again once the A-Z is over...

      Delete
  16. Love your pictures of Cairo. such a fascinating city it must be!
    -----
    Eva - Mail Adventures

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, it is, any city with a history like that -
      totally spellbinding

      Delete
  17. Such brilliant pictures
    Egypt has been is my Must-Visit lost for so long. Hope to make it some time

    A Peice Of My Life

    ReplyDelete
  18. Such fascinating facts and brilliant photographs ! The Nile looks so beautiful by the night. Thanks for such a beautifully done post on the great City .
    Best wishes,
    Moon
    https://aslifehappens60.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. Lovely virtual tour via images and text! Enjoyed reading this one.
    Quaint

    ReplyDelete
  20. So interesting to read of Cairo's ancient name Al Qahira ... it's poetic. The pics are gorgeous, and the history fascinating thank you!

    http://www.gardenofedenblog.com/atoz-blog-challenge-q-quest/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Qahira means 'Victorious' - the name's still in use, thanks for visiting

      Delete
  21. How interesting!
    Well now, although I never visited Al Qahira (Mom, Dan and my older brothers and many relatives did) but I'm Sudanese so I know what you're talking about. Great job :)

    Q's for Queen(s).
    Theme: Weaving Cinquains.
    Blog Post:http://haneenwrites.blogspot.com/2017/04/qs-for-queens-atozchallenge.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have friends who've visited Khartoum and they say the Nile is even more beautiful your side :) Hope to see it for myself some day. Thanks for stopping by

      Delete
  22. You could work for the Cairo tourism board.

    Lots of overthrows and takeovers through the years for that city. Wonder what is in store for the future?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish! :)

      Lots of excitement there - battles and glory, tales of intrigue and deceit and political machinations death and decapitations, yes. Future won't be as exciting as the past perhaps, but one never knows, right?

      Delete
  23. I loved every bit of Cairo, we also got lost and could hardly communicate with the cabbie, but the tourist police in Egypt are so helpful.
    Tina
    Twinkling Tina Cooks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. More or less everyone is helpful, we have been lost on every street in Cairo, and in villages way in the interior. Got around fine even when we didn't know a word of Arabic. The common people are incredibly hospitable, in Egypt and throughout the Arab world, wherever I've been...

      Delete
  24. History lesson today! I didn't realize Cairo was so big. I wonder how its size measures up to London or New York.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cairo is about half the area of NY, but has 2.5 times the population. Cities in the East are way more densely populated. London is humongous size-wise, but the least densely populated.

      Delete
  25. Another new word for me (It's my third one on Q day, so feeling mighty chuffed). Thank you for Qahira.
    Spotted a few words in the first video (duniya, halwa and aiwwa) but wish they had subtitles too.
    Q is for questions to a Blogger

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I hear you...but its quite rare to have subtitles on Arabic songs, a few do, most don't. But sometimes there are translations available online, separately.

      Delete
  26. enjoying all your posts; the photos, videos, and the information you have really wonderful..
    loved the Qanun...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The qanun is quite a complex instrument, but sounds so lovely! Thanks for visiting.

      Delete
  27. No trouble finding Q's here! Thanks for the image tour.

    Q is for Quintinshill Rail Disaster

    ReplyDelete
  28. Now I know Al Qahira is Cairo.
    Interesting to learn about the 'Mother of the world'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, Cairo is the Anglised version of Qahira...

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