It's definitely safer than skating into oncoming traffic.
While Egypt has been expanding in ways of hobbies and activities, there still remains a few "out of the box" sports that have yet to see improvement and progress in terms of accessibility. For many skaters in Cairo, it seems difficult to pursue their passion further and safely as the only venue for it is the city's streets. Cairo's skaters end up focusing more on swerving in between cars trying to dodge oncoming traffic rather than improving their skill and achieving what they possibly could with a safe area to practice the sport to their heart's content.
This Saturday, however, avid skater Con O'Donnell is setting up a skate day, "Skating at the Park", at Mall of Arabia's brand new outdoor park, which boasts of a 800 meter skate track for all those interested in taking their hobby a step further or you know, strutting their stuff.
It’s all about skates though, no bikes, scooters or hoverboards. O’Donnell, who only recently got into skating, is working towards granting Egypt's skaters options to pursue the sport safely and in an environment perfectly suited for it.
“I recently got back to Cairo after a year in Berlin, where I’d taken up rollerblading mainly because it was something I could do anywhere with very little equipment or expenses and because it was something I could with my kids,” says O’Donnell. “I ended up loving it so much that I would drop my kids off to school every morning and head over to this big abandoned airport where I would skate for an hour or two.”
While there is actually a rise in the number of skateboarders in Egypt, the venues still remain very limited.
"When I got back [to Cairo], I couldn’t find the equivalent places and I’d see kids skating in Tahrir and around Gam3et el Dowal in traffic,” explains O’Donnell. “I thought that there had to be places where people could skate so I started thinking of empty parking lots, compounds, malls, stadiums, basically anywhere with a big smooth surface not covered in stones.”
After searching for a while, O’Donnell, with the help of a friend who also happens to be the marketing manager for Marakez (which owns Mall of Arabia), came up with a plan.
"I was having lunch with him and he said to come take a look at the new park they had built and see if it would be a good place to skate. I went, with my skates, and it turned out to be a perfect place for skates and boards.”
This a one-off event, however providing a decent turnout, there's a good chance organising more skating events at Mall of Arabia and other venues across will be much easier, according to Con.
“For me, I want to see the interest from the skaters because I think I can replicate this kind of experience in different venues across town.”
Check out the event, here.
MainImage: John Perkins