Cairo delights at sweet candies as Muslim festival nears

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Egyptian women decorate traditional sugar statuettes in the capital Cairo on November 2, 2019, ahead of celebrations of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed's birthday, known as "Al Mawlid Al Nabawi". (AFP)
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An Egyptian child gazes at statuettes made from sugar in front of a candy factory in the capital Cairo on November 2, 2019, ahead of celebrations of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed's birthday, known as "Al Mawlid Al Nabawi". (AFP)
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A woman decorates traditional sugar candy at a market in the capital Cairo on November 02, 2019, ahead of celebrations of the birthday of Prophet Mohammed, known in Arabic as "al-Mawlid al-Nabawi". (AFP)
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An Egyptian confectioner shows bars of sweets with sesame at a candy factory in the capital Cairo on November 2, 2019, ahead of celebrations of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed's birthday, known as "Al Mawlid Al Nabawi". (AFP)
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Egyptian women decorate traditional sugar statuettes in the capital Cairo on November 2, 2019, ahead of celebrations of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed's birthday, known as "Al Mawlid Al Nabawi". (AFP)
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Decorated traditional sugar statuettes are ready to be distributed to vendors in the capital Cairo on November 2, 2019, ahead of celebrations of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed's birthday, known as "Al Mawlid Al Nabawi". (AFP)
Updated 03 November 2019

Cairo delights at sweet candies as Muslim festival nears

  • Decorated sugar dolls, horse-shaped candies and nut-filled treats are on display in shops lining Cairo
  • Sunni Muslims in many parts of the world celebrate Prophet Mohammed’s birthday

CAIRO: The sweet smell of candies wafts through downtown Cairo’s historic Bab Al-Bahr street as the Muslim Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, known as “Al Mawlid Al Nabawi,” draws near.
Decorated sugar dolls, horse-shaped candies and nut-filled treats are on display in shops lining the busy street near Islamic Cairo, a historic district filled with mosques, tombs and caravanserais.
“We love to share this happy mood,” said one stall-holder who was adorning a candy doll with glitter and colored paper, drawing intense interest from a group of playful children.
“We come to Bab Al-Bahr during this time every year to decorate candies.”
Sunni Muslims in many parts of the world celebrate Prophet Mohammed’s birthday on the 12th day of the third month of the Islamic calendar, which this year falls on Saturday, November 9.
Prophet Muhammad was born in Saudi Arabia’s arid mountainous city of Makkah, the holiest site in Islam, some 1450 years ago.
The Al Mawlid Al Nabawi celebrations are said to have originated in Egypt in the Fatimid dynasty which ruled the country some 1,000 years ago.
As the faithful look forward to the celebrations, Cairo’s dessert makers are preparing other mouthwatering sweets made of peanuts, sesame seeds, coconuts and pistachios.
“I have been coming here annually for the past 35 years because I love decorating the candies,” said 56-year-old Abdou, who is originally a carpenter.
“These sweets are available for the poor and the rich alike.”
Nearby, 25-year-old Sayed stood stirring a boiling sugary mix with a large wooden spatula.
“I have been working at this shop since I was 12 years old,” he said, adding that his job keeps Egypt’s sweet-tooths happy all year.
After the festivities, he said, “we go back to making chocolates and regular candies.”


Photographers reveal Egypt’s hidden gems in show for a good cause

This is the group’s fourth charitable exhibition. (Supplied)
Updated 58 min 20 sec ago

Photographers reveal Egypt’s hidden gems in show for a good cause

  • Cairo Saturday Walks are a group of photographers who go on adventures every week to take pictures across the city
  • The team is now exhibiting its work for charity at a gallery in the city

DUBAI: The Cairo Saturday Walks team, a group of photographers who go on adventures every week to take pictures across the city, are now exhibiting their work for charity at a gallery in the city.

The exhibition brought together more than 50 local, international, professional and amateur photographers who are displaying their work in the Maadi district until Nov. 22.

The youngest participant is 13 and the oldest is 60. (Supplied)

All proceeds from the gallery will go to the restoration of a public facility in one of the underserved areas that the group has walked in and photographed during the past, according to the founder of Cairo Saturday Walks Karim El-Hayawan.

This is the group’s fourth charitable exhibition.

El-Hayawan described the practice as an “organic experience,” during which photographers discover the city’s hidden gems.

The group is displaying its work in the Maadi district until Nov. 22. (Supplied)

What started off as a one-man weekly walk is now a practice shared by 500 photographers.

El-Hayawan’s journey began after he took a basic introductory course in photography. “I did not have time during the week to work on my photography assignments. I used to go out every Saturday to take pictures and I used to post on my account. Then a lot of people started asking me ‘Where are these places? Where do you go? We want to join,’ although (these places) exist 10-15 minutes from anywhere in Cairo, but people did not notice them or had forgotten them,” he told Arab News.

The photographers walk around and discover the city’s hidden gems. (Supplied)

The group has a library of more than 15,000 pictures accessible on Instagram through #cairosaturdaywalks.

“We ask people who join us to share their pictures on that hashtag, with the intention of having a long-term documentation of Cairo,” El-Hayawan said. “Everyone takes pictures from his/her own perspective. It is extremely neutral; everyone takes pictures of whatever they want.”

In two to three years, people can go back to this documentation and see that Cairo looked this way at this time,” he said.

All proceeds from the gallery will go to the restoration of a public facility in one of the underserved areas that the group has walked in and photographed during the past. (Supplied)

A typical Saturday for the photographers starts off at a cafe. “We meet in the morning at a coffee shop and we take a little bus that we rent every Saturday and we just hit the road to somewhere random and we get lost. We call them to pick us up from wherever we reach at the end of the day. The idea is that it has no structure and I really aimed at that from the very beginning,” El-Hayawan said.

What started off as a one-man weekly walk is now a practice shared by 500 photographers. (Supplied)

The youngest participant is 13 and the oldest is 60, but El-Hayawan said that anyone can join the walk and share their pictures.

“I found out about Cairo Saturday Walks from Instagram. The spirit of people I walk with is just amazing. Also, the fact that I am Egyptian yet I still get amazed by Cairo’s streets is what pushes me to explore more every week,” Yara Wael, a 17-year-old photographer, told Arab News.