I wanted to write a post about great books set in Egypt but then I realized that I had too much to say about this incredible country to fit everything into one post! So I’ll start off with my love for Egypt and my experience of living there, then a separate book post will be winging its way on over soon 🙂
I was lucky enough to live in Cairo for around seven months a couple of years ago and it was a great experience. I was studying Arabic and French for my undergraduate degree and had the great opportunity to spend my entire third year abroad.
I lived in the neighbourhood of Zamalek, an island in the Nile that’s full of beautiful old buildings leftover from the colonial era. I loved living there as it’s very laidback; Downtown and Mohandiseen are both very busy and full of traffic whereas Zamalek has a kind of sleepy feel, with lots of trees lining the streets and tons of coffee shops and shisha (waterpipe) cafés.
The awesome thing about living in Cairo is the wealth of culture there; you have the Pyramids a 30 minute drive from downtown Cairo, all the Islamic history from when Cairo was the capital of the Islamic world and the more modern history. Cairo has a fantastic museum, a huge souk (Khan al-Khalili), lots of beautiful mosques, a famed center of Islamic learning (al-Azhar University) and a beautiful park.
If you ever get the chance to go, I wholeheartedly recommend you visit Egypt. When I was there Mubarak was still the man in charge so I don’t know first hand how much the revolution has changed the country, but I would love to go back and see for myself. Mubarak and his family clearly siphoned off a lot of Egyptian resources for themselves; hopefully moving into the future Egypt will end up with a fairer system.