Ever wondered why on earth a street would be called Clot Bey?
Egypt has a shitload of streets, and we'll forever stay lost trying to figure out our way to the middle of buttfuck nowhere, but somehow, particular names resonate. They do because we sit there and wonder, especially if we pass by them on a daily basis, what the hell they were named after? Who the hell is Salah Salem, and why did you stay on Shehab more than you stayed with your ex? The CairoScene Cultural Institute conducted some research, and we asked our Egyptian and foreign staff which street names they're itching to know about. The details of the research are below, and our concluding thought is that for once, next time you're taking a cab, you'll be able to tefti about something more than the driver. Score.
Perhaps one of the most infamous ways to get anywhere around Cairo is through this dreaded road. It's named in honour of one Nasser's 1952 Revolution military officers, who served as the Minister of National Guidance, Editor in Chief of Al Sha3b Newspaper and Chairman of the Press Syndicate. Basically, he regulated the shit out of censorships in the press. We wonder if he's watching us right now writing. But he's probably rolling in his grave every time CairoScene sparks some controversy, knowing his road is what gets most of us to work everyday to continue our shenanigans.
Bab El Louq
There are two parts to the name of this beloved Downtown street. The second half of the name came first, which is the 'louq' part, an Arabic word used to refer to fertile lands. After that, Najm Ad-din Ayyub, father of ruler An-Nasir Salahuddin, aka Saladin, aka Salahuddin El Ayyubi, established a fencing court there, and since it was a gated community, that's where the word 'bab', meaning door came from.
We really hope this story is true because this is one of the creepiest street names ever. It's just called Nawal Street. Nawal who? So, a little bit of a history lesson. The last king of Egypt, King Farouq, was born to Queen Nazli. Before she became queen, she had a sister named Nawal, who died at the age of 6. Nawal and Nazli's father, Abdur-rahim Pacha Sabry, was a Minister of Agriculture in Egypt, and the loss of his little girl devastated him. He named his mansion (now the Nasser Military Academy) in her honour, and the name stuck to the whole street where it is located. We're never walking alone down that street at night. Ever. Nobody's trying to get haunted by the ghost of a deceased girl.
We were hoping this one was about the man who introduced modern underwear to Egyptians, but alas, it turned out to be named after Antoine Clot (1793-1868), a French physician who practiced medicine for a long time in Egypt, as he was Muhammad Ali Pacha's personal surgeon. Just a man who probably encourages sanitation and wearing clean underwear in general, though. During his time in Egypt, he founded a hospital and a school teaching various specialisations of medicine. This school was later moved to Cairo, and renamed El Qasr El Einy. Sounds familiar?
El Qasr El Einy
What the hell is El Qasr El Einy anyway, right? Well, qasr means palace, and einy means my eye. No, actually El Einy was a person. Ahmed Bin El Einy, who apparently built the palace in 1466? Wikipedia said so. During the French Campaign in Egypt, the palace was used as a military hospital, and later, it became the specialised hospital we know today.
El Muizz/Al Moezz
One of Cairo's oldest streets, and actually named after the founder of this beautiful city! This street carried the charm of Islamic art and the soul of Egypt. It was named after Tamim Ma'ad who was dubbed "Al Muizz le Din Ellah" a title that means the fortifier of God's religion, as he was a Fatimid caliph. Today, you still may hear the term "Qaheret el Muizz," which means 'El Muizz's Cairo,' the first capital of the Fatimid Caliphate.
Ibn El Zinky
People be like, is that even a real name? This is named after Nurraddin El Zinky, a Levantine soldier who is of the Zengid Dynasty (one of the Turkish dynasties, a long, long time ago that ruled parts of the Levant). This guy conquered Egypt, kicked the Fatimids (Shia Muslims) out, got the Abassids (Sunni Muslims) in, made the Levant and Egypt one, fought the crusaders, saved Egypt from them, and then Saladin was like "Okay, thanks for your awesome services, now I want to rule Egypt." We just tried making a long and complex story short.
This refers to Mahmoud El Falaki (1815-1885), born in Al Gharbeya governorate, who was one of the first people to graduate from 'engineering school', established by Muhammad Ali Pacha. He was assigned as a math teacher at the school. He got his name from 'falak', the study of astronomy, which he learned from well-known astrologists in France, which he later taught as a subject. We're wondering if he read his horoscope every morning or nah? And we're also wondering what he thinks of the compatibility between Cancer females and Capricorn males...
Bahaa El Din Qaraqoush
Qaraqoush is not something you munch on. It'd have been easier to tell you he was the one who baked qaraqeesh in honour of God-knows-what Battle against the army of whomever who was trying to take over Egypt, and blahblahblah and so on and so forth. It is actually a Turkish word that literally translates to "the black eagle," a label given to the assistant of An-Nasir Salahuddin, who was also an architect, and who attended to all matters of the palace, he was loyal, reliable, and a good guy to have around when you're taking over a whole country. He designed the walls around the Bab El Wazir area, to protect Cairo from any invasions. According to Al Ahram Weekly, "Qaraqosh built circular walls around Cairo, along with the Al-Gabal and Al-Fustat fortresses. He constructed several gates in the walls, among them Bab Al-Bahr, Bab Al-Shaareya and Bab Al-Mahrouk." This guy likes his privacy. We couldn't even get a photo of a street named after him. Apparently his efforts in protection and privacy died with that era, because it failed to be passed down to our mothers who don't accept our locked bedroom doors when they're about to barge in.
Mohey El Din Abu El Ezz
Another military officer from the 1952 Revolution. Surprise, surprise.
El Batal 'The Hero' Ahmed Abd El Aziz
No, this is not the 90s actor with a dashing mustache. This guy, Ahmed Abd El Aziz (1907-1948) is actually a soldier, who fought in the 1948 war against Israel. He was born in Khartoum, Sudan to a high-ranking military father. Following the footsteps of his father, and the Egyptian tradition of inheriting careers, he also became a soldier – known for his loyalty, knowledge and chivalry *swoon* and he was the first Egyptian solider to volunteer to liberate Palestine. He was able to get many other volunteers from the army on board. He was martyred in 1948, after generating strategic plans, organising and mobilising fighters against injustice, and being remembered for all his remarkable accomplishments.
This one took a while to figure out, as we were trying to figure out who this name that stands alone – like it's Bond, or Clinton – belongs to. So, you know how Mohandiseen has the Arab League street? And then from there, you got different streets diverging out, holding names of Arab states; Lebanon, Syria, Sudan, etc.? Well, Shehab is named after Fuad Chehab, the first Lebanese president (from 1958-1964), who introduced and initiated many developments and changes to Lebanon, on a large scale – socially and economically. He was a good guy, we're guessing. So good that the street just takes his last name like you're supposed to know who he is.
26th of July
So, this 1952 Revolution was on July 23rd. However, on July 26th, General Muhammad Naguib (Egypt's first president), sent a warning to King Farouk and told him off about how no one is down to deal with the fuckups anymore, how they're taking over, how that this revolution is happening and how he should just deal with it. Basically, he gave up the throne of Egypt on that day. This street used to be called Fuad street, after Farouk's father, who ruled Egypt prior to his son, and changing its name is the ultimate slap to the face of monarchy.
Ahmed Sabry and Hassan Sabri
This may get confusing for taxi drivers in an area like Zamalek. But, it's pretty simple. The two guys died years apart. Always remember, Ahmed Sabry is an Egyptian fencing champion who died at the age of 24, in 1958, in a plane crash that was supposed to head to New York City, along with other team members. Hassan Sabry, was an Egyptian politician during the monarchy, who died in 1940. He dropped dead, literally, in the House of Parliament as he was accepting the Grand Cordon of Muhammad Ali, the highest honor Egyptian government bestowed at the time. Okay, maybe the dramatic deaths will still leave some traces of confusion.
While Ahmed El Sa22a in the 2004 film Tito was a significant childhood crush (we were young, okay?), and so, it's worth having a street named after him, this is actually for Josib Broz Tito. This Yugoslav 'benevolent dictator' led the movement of the Partisans, one of the most known resistant movements in 20th century Europe. Many people have different opinions about whether he was good guy or not. We're going to judge his entire ideology, lifetime achievements, and how much we like him based on how much traffic is there next time we drive by.
Masr W el Sudan
This street used to be named Malek Masr W'el Sudan, as in the King of Egypt and Sudan (King Farouq). After the 1952 Revolution, the 'malek' was dropped, and so was his name of the street's, and it became 'Masr W el Sudan' – because kings come and go, but Masr wel Sudan 7etta wa7da ya gama3a, the love and bond between Egypt and Sudan shall live forever.
This street is in Omraniya, and no actual given names follow the doctor title. The story is that in one night, on one street, a man fell and lost consciousness, a woman was giving birth, a little girl had measles, and a young man was shot in the arm during a protest. The only doctor in the area ran up and down the street on that night trying to treat the four patients in four different houses. His efforts actually succeeded in bringing the man's consciousness, delivering a beautiful little boy, giving the girl the proper medication, and extracting the bullet from the young man's arm. The street was named in honour of that miraculous night. And it was because of that day, Egyptian parents believed that all their kids had to grow up and be dacatra. Nah, we're just seriously messing with you. We'd really love to know this one.
All watermarked images by @MO4Network's #MO4Productions.
Clot Bek image belongs to thibaudsmerko.blogspot.com.