Foul’s gold: Egyptian street food is big business in Ramadan

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Unofficial street carts serving foul have become the suhoor ‘restaurant’ of choice for thousands of Egyptians in recent Ramadans. (Supplied)
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Unofficial street carts serving foul have become the suhoor ‘restaurant’ of choice for thousands of Egyptians in recent Ramadans. (Supplied)
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Unofficial street carts serving foul have become the suhoor ‘restaurant’ of choice for thousands of Egyptians in recent Ramadans. (Supplied)
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Unofficial street carts serving foul have become the suhoor ‘restaurant’ of choice for thousands of Egyptians in recent Ramadans. (Supplied)
Updated 07 June 2018
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Foul’s gold: Egyptian street food is big business in Ramadan

CAIRO: Unofficial street carts serving foul have become the suhoor ‘restaurant’ of choice for thousands of Egyptians in recent Ramadans. These carts seem to be on every corner of Egyptian city streets, serving oriental suhoor from midnight until fajr prayer — around 3:00 a.m. local time.   

Though street food is popular in Egypt throughout the year, the whole foul cart experience is appealing to Egyptians for different reasons, adding a special touch to the holy month’s social gatherings.

Some guests do express concerns regarding the carts’ health standards, as most of do not have an official operating permit. But Yousef, one of the vendors, stressed they do their best to maintain the cleanliness of their utensils, preserve the food properly and have it served fresh. 

We visited “El-Sohba” (‘The Friends’), a foul cart run by a group of six college friends who’ve just finished their exams. 

Like most, they offer an oriental breakfast menu. This one includes fava beans mixed with olive oil, butter or tahini.  Eggs are served plain, with cheese or mixed with pastrami — a local favorite. Also on offer are falafel, cheese, fries and salads, alongside soft drinks.  

Mostafa, a member of the group, told Arab News the six friends wanted this to be their project for the summer. 

“Every year, we have suhoor at a foul cart belonging to some of the people we know,” he said. “We liked the idea and kept saying we wanted to have one of our own. This year we decided to go ahead with it.”   

The friends believe customers enjoy suhoor at a foul cart because the ambiance adds to the Ramadan spirit. “It’s not just the food; it’s the lighting, the seating arrangement, and the good company,” Mostafa said.

Almost every foul cart provides a few plastic tables and chairs. If there’s some greenery in the area, they sometimes put out traditional poufs and round wooden tables, giving it a picnic-like atmosphere.  The carts run their electric from nearby street poles and hang a few decorative lights. 

Saif, one of the cart owners, tells Arab News that by the time they’ve served suhoor for everyone, he and his friends sometimes don’t get the chance to actually eat themselves, despite developing a way to serve the food as quickly as possible to those rushing to eat their pre-dawn meal in time

“Some do get angered if the food (takes a long time), but I believe we handle everyone quite well,” Saif said.  


Opening the door to Middle Eastern designers at Dubai Design Week

Updated 14 November 2018
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Opening the door to Middle Eastern designers at Dubai Design Week

  • This year, five pavilions from Amman, Beirut, Dubai, the Eastern Provinces of KSA and Kuwait City are showing off
  • The Abwab exhibit is just one thought-provoking, Instagram-worthy part of Dubai Design Week

DUBAI: Named after the Arabic word for “doors,” Abwab is an annual exhibition at Dubai Design Week, a creative fair that runs until Nov. 17.

This year, five pavilions from Amman, Beirut, Dubai, the Eastern Provinces of KSA and Kuwait City are showing off their artistic innovations in Dubai Design District, where the event is based.

Two designers were invited from each place to collaborate and produce works related to the theme “Between the Lines.”

The creations are housed in five pavilions at the heart of Dubai Design District, made up of red twigs and newspaper pulp and designed by the firm Architecture + Other Things.

Visitors crowded around the pavilions at the opening of the fair on Tuesday and explored the five spaces with their unique, sometimes perplexing, offerings.

Amman‘s pavilion at the Abwab exhibit is called “Duwar,” roundabout in Arabic, and is described as a representation of the cycle between chaos and order. The exhibit is a walk-through piece featuring moving images on boards suspended from the low ceiling of the circular space. Visitors are encouraged to walk through the dark circular corridor and take in the constantly flashing imagery above them in the piece that was created by multidisciplinary designer Hashem Joucka and architect Basel Naouri.

Beirut’s contribution to the Abwab exhibit is called “Beirut Fillers” and features a series of suspended words in a constructed sensorial environment, complete with audio recordings of the words “euhhh,” “halla2,” “enno” and “fa,” all of which are linguistic fillers commonly heard in Beiruti conversation.  

For its part, the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia is showcasing a fascinating piece of work called “The Sound of the East Coast” that pays homage to the tradition of pearl diving in the area with shaking, jelly-like bowls. The installation even features audio recordings of the traditional song “El Yamal,” often chanted to keep the divers motivated.

While Kuwait City’s offering, called “Desert Cast,” uses locally sourced materials and production methods to explore the idea of identity in the country, Dubai’s piece at the exhibit is called “Thulathi: Threefold” and is marked by a protruding triangular section that breaks the natural form of the rounded pavilion. Each corner of the triangle opens slightly through apertures, revealing video projections and silhouette cutouts.

The Abwab exhibit is just one thought-provoking, Instagram-worthy part of Dubai Design Week, an event that boasts workshops, exhibits and a trade fair.