|This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2009)|
|• City Leader||Major General. Mohamed El-Sheikh|
|• Total||250 km2 (100 sq mi)|
|Time zone||EET (UTC+2)|
Nasr City (Arabic: مدينة نصر) is a district of Cairo, Egypt. It is located to the east of the Cairo Governorate and consists mostly of condominia. It was established in the 1960s as an extension to neighboring suburb of Heliopolis. The establishment of the district was part of the Egyptian Government's plan to modernise and expand Cairo following the Egyptian Revolution of 1952. Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Egyptian President at the time, was involved personally in the design process, and was the one who chose the name Nasr for the new district ("nasr" being the Arabic word for "victory"). Now, Nasr City is extremely crowded, much more than was expected from the creation of the district, because of Egyptian families relocating to the district and also because of Somali and Sudanese immigration to areas of Nasr City such as Hay al Asher.
Some condominia and apartments in Nasr City have bowabs. Bowabs are people who live on the first floor of the building with their families. They run errands for the residents of the building, such as shopping, and they also take out the garbage, and wash the rugs, and they get paid to do this. It is possible to call them at any time if one wants something for the house. They also take care of security for the building, similar, to the role of a doorman in European or American-style apartment buildings. In less affluent neighborhoods, the bowab simply cleans the building once every two or three weeks.
It is the largest district in Cairo, occupying nearly 250 km² of the capital's total area of 1,445 km². For this reason, it is divided into 10 sub-districts, of which numbers 6-10 are called by their respective numbers and the first 5 are called by their names. It has a modern road system, and grid street system, which stands in contrast to the narrow winding streets of much of Old Cairo. Tram system serves Heliopolis and Nasr City. Also, other forms of transportation exist in Nasr City, including minibuses, microbuses, and tock-tocks (in the 10th district of Nasr City).
When catching a microbus, specific hand signs may be used. These signs include putting the index and middle fingers in an upwards "V", which is the Arabic numeral 7, for the 7th district, placing those fingers upside down in a downwards "V", which is the Arabic number 8, for the 8th district, or putting out a hand and slowly opening and closing the fingers slightly above the start of the palm for the 10th district.
The district is home to many socioeconomic strata. During Ramadan, the comparative wealth of districts can be determined by whether there are electric lights or simply colored flags. The 10th district of Nasr City is home to refugees and immigrants of various countries, such as Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, China, Malaysia, and even the United States. There are many mosques, such as the Masjid al Nour al Mohamedi. Also, there are falafel stands, shawarma restaurants, a koshari restaurant near the main road, and pharmacies. Due to the proximity to the airport, there are lots of planes always flying overhead.
Nasr City is home to the new premises of Al-Azhar University, the Cairo International Conference Center, Cairo International Stadium, a branch of the Ahly Club, Saint Fatima School and several government buildings. Among its major landmarks is the pyramid-like Unknown Soldier Memorial honoring the Egyptian and other Arab servicemen killed in the October War of 1973. The Memorial is opposite the grandstand at which President Sadat was assassinated, and is where Sadat himself is buried. The Revolution has led to the presence of colorful graffiti on the road from Masjid al Salaam in the 8th subdistrict to the Ahly branch in Nasr City. This branch has 2 swimming pools, a large soccer field, a track where members can exercise, a gym, and many stores and restaurants. Members can enter for free, but non-members must pay 20 Egyptian pounds for a ticket. Nasr City also has many mosques, and during the times of prayer, one may hear multiple live adhans preceded and followed by Quranic recitation. Sometimes, the prayers themselves are broadcast through the loudspeakers.
Muslim Brotherhood Sit-In
|This section's factual accuracy is disputed. (December 2013)|
The Muslim Brotherhood and members of the National Coalition to Support Legitimacy launched a sit-in in front of one of the largest mosques in Nasr City, Rabia al Adawiyya, which contained a mosque, hospital, and clinics. They erected a stage and invited their supporters from Cairo, the countryside, rural areas, and from foreign countries to participate. Some Syrian refugees and impoverished Egyptians joined the sit-in in exchange for a weekly payment. Sanitary conditions in the neighborhood deteriorated, and there were multiple accounts of suspected criminals, foreign agents, or military supporters, who in reality were just ordinary people who got too close, being tortured by members of the sit-in; some of these cases resulted in death. This sit-in lasted from a few days before the June 30 Revolution until August 14th, 2013, when all efforts at mediation and negotiation failed, and the interim government was forced to deploy forces from the Ministry of Interior to end the sit-in, a sit-in against which numerous legal complaints had already been filed. The following gunfight between members of the sit-in and the police resulted in the deaths of more than 600 protesters, some of them minors who had been brought to the sit-in by their parents, most notably among them Asmaa el Beltagy, the 17 year old daughter of Mohamed el Beltagy. These parents ignored two weeks warnings from the government to vacate the sit-in without penalty, yet chose to stay. The mosque also suffered serious damage as the result of a fire that was inadvertently set. This area is still a no-go area in Nasr City and is often surrounded by military tanks, especially on Thursday nights and on Fridays to prevent the establishment of a new sit-in and to allow for government-sponsored repairs to the mosque and surroundings.
Shopping and Mall Culture
Nasr City has a large concentration of shopping malls (Genena Mall, Tiba Mall, City Center, Serag Mall, and City Stars - the biggest mall in Egypt to date). There are eight shopping malls in the area, most of which were opened in the late 1990s. There was a dramatic growth of shopping malls in the neighborhood, and they were generally more successful than similar enterprises in other parts of Cairo. One of the main reasons for the success of these commercial centers is the simple grid environment of Nasr City. The district has no town/city center and consists of long, wide streets, with roundabouts, and perpendicular streets.
Nasr City has a variety of shops and leisure spaces including restaurants, coffee shops, and cinemas. The malls are usually very crowded during holidays and summer nights, while the fast-food restaurants and coffee shops remain open and busy until late at night. Late night shopping is popular in Cairo, especially in summer, and thus the malls do not open until around 11am, and peak hours begin around 10pm. Also, each sub-district has its own market, or souq, where one can buy fresh fruit, vegetables, and slaughtered meat. The souq in the 8th district of Nasr City is located next to a gas station 5 minutes away by foot from the Sedeek Language School. It has a live poultry and livestock section, many fruit and vegetable stands, and a seafood section in the back. Many children of the stand owners work in the market,carrying people's purchases for them, or helping to stock the stands or watch the animals. The 10th district of Nasr City has the biggest market, with at least 3 butchers, 5-6 large fruit and vegetable stands, multiple clothing stores, and slightly crowded streets.
The architecture and decoration of the newly built shopping malls of Nasr City are influenced greatly by building designs in the Gulf and Southeast Asia. The architecture of the Wonderland Mall is marked by its Oriental aspects while the design of the Geneina Mall, with its transparent glass elevators, resembles the design of Southeast Asian malls in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Some of the malls in Nasr City, like the Sirag, and Geneina malls, have associate housing and apartments above the shopping spaces. Although these malls are in close proximity with to another, there is no strict competition between them as most cater to different types of customers. The Tiba Mall, for instance, is regarded as a family mall, while the Geneina Mall is popular among teenagers and youngsters due to its bowling alley, billiard centre, and discothèque. The Serag Mall is located in the 8th district of Nasr City, and it contains the al-Mahmal hypermarket, several clothing stores, and aquatic bumper cars in the main lobby for young children. There is also a restaurant, a cinema, and a shisha bar.
These contemporary malls are exclusive and closely monitored spaces with tight security surveillance. They often demand specific behaviour and dress code from the visitors. In 1999, some malls like the World Trade Center and the as-Hurriya Mall, put restrictions on visitors wearing gallabiyas, traditional long robes that are often worn by males of the lower classes. These measures were taken by shopping mall managers in order to filter the public and stop people of lower classes from intruding the commercial space. The restriction on people wearing gallabiyas was later lifted due the influx of Gulf visitors who also commonly wear such garments.
For many, Nasr City symbolizes Cairo’s nouveau-riche suburban culture that has been influenced greatly by the lifestyles of the Gulf region. This is because an influx of middle class professionals and returning migrant workers from the Gulf countries purchased property in Nasr City and settled there.
- Singerman, Diane, and Paul Amar, eds. Cairo Cosmopolitan. Cairo, New York: The American University in Cairo P, 2006.
- Mona, Abaza. Changing consumer cultures of modern Egypt : Cairo's urban reshaping. Brill Academic Pub, 2006.