Cairo delights at sweet candies as Muslim festival nears

1 / 6
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)
2 / 6
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)
3 / 6
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)
4 / 6
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)
5 / 6
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)
6 / 6
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.”


Egyptian archaeological team opens door on ancient treasure trove

Updated 15 July 2020

Egyptian archaeological team opens door on ancient treasure trove

  • The find, believed to be at least 2,300 years old and bearing the name of King Ptolemy IV, was made in Nagaa Hammadi, about 80 km northwest of Luxor
  • The wall is located about 200 meters from a shrine to the goddess Hathor – experts believe ruins at the site are likely to have great religious significance

CAIRO: An ancient sandstone wall decorated with inscriptions and dating back to the Ptolemaic era has been found by a specialist antiquities team in southern Egypt.

The find, believed to be at least 2,300 years old and bearing the name of King Ptolemy IV, was made in Nagaa Hammadi, about 80 km northwest of Luxor, in the Qena governorate.

Mustafa Waziri, secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, has called for further excavations to be carried out at the site, which is expected to reveal more secrets.

The wall is located about 200 meters from a shrine to the goddess Hathor. Experts believe ruins at the site are likely to have great religious significance.

Waziri said that during the excavation, entrances were found in the Holy Valley, south of the royal cemetery in Umm El-Qa’ab. Studies showed that the entrances led to rooms carved from rock and no more than 1.2 meters in height.

Archaeologists found another set of five rooms connected via narrow entrances cut into the walls.

Mohammed Abdel-Badi, head of the Central Department of Antiquities of Upper Egypt and chief of the mission, said that the rooms are undecorated and located above deep vertical wells linked to natural water tunnels.

Most of the rooms contain pottery fragments, fountains, terraces and a number of small holes in the walls. Gaps near the entrances were likely used as handles or for tying ropes.

Graffiti in one room shows the name Khou-so-n-Hour, his mother Amon Eards and his grandmother Nes-Hour.

Abdel-Badi said that pottery scattered on the valley floor south of the royal tombs in Umm El-Qa’ab indicate the area being inhabited during the Ptolemaic period, most likely during the second and first centuries B.C., and also during the late Roman era.

Pottery fragments include an item originally belonging to a jar with a spherical body made from oasis mud and imported to Abydos, one of ancient Egypt’s oldest cities.

Matthew Adams, of the Institute of Fine Arts at the University of New York and co-director of the North Abydos Mission, said that there is no indication any of the rooms was used for burial purposes.

He said that the Holy Valley, south of the royal cemetery in Umm El-Qa’ab, was thought by ancient Egyptians to be a gateway to the afterlife.

The archaeological find, located high inside a largely inaccessible mountain, shows that it has great religious importance, he said.

The archaeological survey team records and documents human activities in the desert west of Abydos from prehistoric times, and in an area about eight kilometers from the Saqqara pyramid in the south to the Salmani quarries in the north.