The Mogamma on Tahrir Square, Cairo
|Town or city||Cairo|
The Mogamma (Arabic: مجمع التحرير, also spelled Mugamma) is a government building in Cairo, Egypt. The Mogamma was the result of a series of master plans for the Qasr el Nil area (now Tahrir Square), which used to be occupied by the British barracks. In 1947 when King Farouk ordered the demolition of the barracks upon the departure of British troops from the area, a series of urban planning proposals ensued. The idea for a centralised, all-in-one administrative building emerged from the 1947 plans. Construction began in 1948, and ended in 1951. The building's style reflects typical 1940s modernism, and government buildings in the same style can be found in Buffalo, New York (New York City Hall), and Paris. Contrary to popular belief, there is no Soviet association or inspiration, and the building was not constructed by the government of Egypt's second President, Gamal Abdel Nasser. Indeed, Nasser did not become the leader of Egypt until November 1954, several years after the building was completed.
The Mogamma is located in downtown Cairo to the south of Tahrir Square, which was, at the time, the newly designed "Liberation Square".
The Mogamma is an administrative governmental building, where all paper work is done by government agencies. For example, one can go there to process documents, get a driver's license, or issue a visa. The governmental agencies that are located in the building include the Tax Evasion Investigations Offices, the Fire Fighting Organization, and the Passport Offices. The 14-story building is the workplace of 18,000 Egyptian public servants.
Structure and Architecture
The structure and architecture of the Mogamma building was influenced by 1940s modernist architecture designed by the Egyptian architect, Kamal Ismail. The external appearance was not of main importance but rather, the structure focuses on central organization and maximization of space. The appearance of the building is plain yet intimidating in its colossal size.
The Mogamma in Cinema
The Mogamma has appeared in several Egyptian movies, the most famous one being Al-irhab wal Kebab (Terrorism and Kebab), a comedy in which the building's bureaucracy frustrates an Egyptian citizen to the point that he mistakenly grabs a guard's gun, proceeds to take the building hostage, and is labeled a terrorist. The film uses the Mogamma and unbearable bureaucracy as a metaphor for all that is wrong in Egyptian society.
The Mogamma Today
In 2005, the government indicated it had plans for the government administrative buildings and departments to be moved from their present locations in and around the downtown area to someplace else. The Mogamma is believed to have created and contributed to the enormous amount of congestion in Tahrir Square and will thus be included in the move to the desert area in the Fifth Settlement, following in the footsteps of the American University in Cairo.
However, the fate of the Mogamma building remains uncertain for many reasons. First, the inconvenience this move will pose for hundreds of people is immense. Second, the move would require added benefits for government employees to reimburse them for the longer travel and to keep them working there. Third, architects who oppose the move claim that the downtown area used to be beautiful and is now in need of making it valuable again by creating parks and gardens, and possibly renovating the building. Lastly, the move of the Mogamma building raises questions about other problems, more specifically public transportation which is in need of improvement.
The move is impending but when it is to occur and to where, is still uncertain and is prone to change.
During the 2011 Revolution
During the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the Mogamma was closed on account of the sit-in in Tahrir Square. A second sit-in in Tahrir Square, beginning on 8 July 2011, also included a blockade of the Mogamma.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mogamma.|
- Williams, Sasha. "The Mogamma: Architectural Gem or Bureaucratic Oddity?" Daily News Egypt. 10 July 2009. 
- El-Noshokaty, Amira. "A Resilient Complex." Al-Ahram Weekly. <http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2007/844/fe1.htm>.
- Sardar, Ziauddin. "What Egyptian Cinema Can Teach Us." New Statesman. 2 April 2007. <http://www.newstatesman.com/religion/2007/04/film-arab-egyptian-building>.
- Gordon, Joel. Hero of the Arab Nation. Oxford: One World, 2006.
- (9 October 2005). Red tape Mecca on its way out, Reading Eagle (from The Washington Post), Retrieved December 13, 2010
- Meyer, Karl E. Riding the Cairo Carousel. Winter 2007/08, Vol. 24, No. 4, Pages 108-112. March 19, 2008