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  • Writer's picture Ahmed Elkhouly

A Miniature Cairo..

Spending only one night per city does mean that I get to visit more places during the limited time of Ramadan, but it also means that I don’t get to spend enough time in a given place. The fact that I arrive very early in the morning means I get to see the city while the streets are still clear of people, then see the crowd build up more and more towards Iftar and watch everything spring back to life after Iftar.

Some cities seemed lazier than others, where crowds start emerging at around 2:00pm while others rise early starting at around 10:00am. People change significantly from one place to the other even in neighboring cities, they talk differently pronouncing common words differently. Even the way they think and react is different, yet they mostly look alike. Egyptians in general look pretty much alike but differ significantly from one place to the other.

Riding the train stop for stop created an insight on some of the people’s work habits. Some cities attract a lot of labour from neighboring cities, while others are considered hubs for food, clothes, and materials. The majority of people are considered poor, they are modest, content, and make great use of what they have. They dress as well as their resources can accommodate, they work hard, and look satisfied.

Some cities seem cleaner than others, and a lot of cities are cleaner than Cairo. Streets are clean, garbage properly disposed of and mostly low on pollution while other cities are the opposite. Walking around is a tool I use to assess a place. On average I walk around 10Km per day in every location I visit. This gives me a chance to experience the city, how the human traffic flows, and the main attraction points.

I had some expectations of Mansoura knowing that the city is of historic origins and as a community they would be united in maintaining if not elevating their city. Mansoura turned out to be a more typical solution for an Egyptian city that’s blessed by the nile passing through it. It reminded me of Cairo “a lot” by being more crowded, more polluted and less hygienic than its neighbors. Mansoura felt like a miniature Cairo in every sense.

Mansoura is an average size city, which was easy to navigate through. Main streets connected everything together with smaller sub-streets creating a grid like neighborhood on either side. The people were modest and kind, they smiled to greet me and didn’t hesitate to start a conversation. During my rather short stay, the calming nature of the people I met made me feel welcomed.

One of the main goals I wanted to achieve in this trip is to target restaurants with listings on Google that lack a proper presence. A lot of food business in Egypt isn’t represented properly on social media. I wanted to help them maintain their status while the shift from traditional marketing to the internet is taking place. I wanted to create pictures for their locations and products that tell their story in an appealing way.

But Im struggling with achieving this goal. In every city, an average of 2-5 restaurants are in dire need of content on their google listings. Some have no or unprofessional pictures that would harm business rather than boost it. After visiting five different cities I’ve only helped one restaurant. The reason for this low statistic is that for every restaurant I visit and explain what they need and how I would provide it for free, I get one of three outcomes: either they are closed for Ramadan or they agree but can’t reach the owner for approval or they just don’t want it.

I didn’t expect it to be easy and Im proud of the status so far, the amount of views reported by google for the pictures posted by that one restaurant are very optimistic. I just wish I can reach more people, and help them achieve outcome more for their business.


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