Thursday 1 of December, 2022
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Online Platform Vatrina is a Repository of Egypt's Rarest Books

Vatrina is less of a bookstore than it is a service to find vintage items, from Abla Nazira’s cookbooks, to a painting by the iconic Seif Waili.

Mariam Zakzouk

The amount of books in Egypt is unimaginably vast and diverse, with the book market being one of the oldest in the region if not the world. Searching for a specific vintage isn’t so much like finding a needle in a haystack as it is finding one particular grain of sand in the desert. There are people out there who strive on collecting such books, and petrol commodity trainer turned vintage collector Omar Badrekhan is one of them. A fact that can plainly be seen through his online platform, Vatrina.


Vatrina is less of a bookstore than it is a service to find vintage items. That’s how it all began, in fact. Before he launched Vatrina, Badrekhan simply wanted to find rare and vintage cookbooks to support his wife Salma Serry’s research in culinary history.


“You want to find books, but how can you find them? I started to go to used book markets like el Azbbakeya, as field research,” Badrekhan tells CairoScene. “We ended up with an archive of 400 books, so we decided to create something out of it.”


From there it grew to encompass much of Egypt’s most elusive books, documents and artefacts, from Abla Nazira’s cookbooks, to a painting by the iconic Seif Waili. Old maps, revolutionary posters, classic comics and magazines like Sinbad and Samir - it’s more than a snapshot into Egyptian culture, it’s a panorama.


While Badrekhan loves the thrill of finding all these really cool, he didn’t want to hoard them. He wanted to keep going, and to keep going he needed funds, so he turned it into what he described as “the best side-hustle” of his life. 


“I love looking for stuff. In Jordan we have a land with Roman artefacts,” Badrekhan says. “I've always loved to look for things, so this came naturally.”


While the couple didn't expect the page to boom, they love that they did. They named it Vatrina, the Arabic name for display windows. After all, Instagram is filled with pages where people simply window shop, and theirs is a gorgeous window to look through.