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A flipside to the honor of having something named after you is the unintended negative connotations it might later bring. This was the typical answer among the young men we questioned on a characteristically chaotic Thursday evening.
But other visitors to Abbas al-Akkad street may offer different answers. Balancing his infant daughter over his left shoulder, year-old Ibrahim Haggag has a more wholesome evening in mind. Perpetually congested, the street pulls you in, and is an unavoidable destination given its central location in a grid-like layout.
It has an endlessly wide variety of shops, sidewalk spreads, cafes, and fast food joints. Like an imploded mall steamrollered into a long strip, Abbas al-Akkad is the place to go if indoor malls strike you as too confined, especially if your sense of fashion can be best described as an affinity for glitter. From sequined veils to tasseled fluorescent lingerie, knock-off brands to unlabelled appliances, gold-leaf furniture to pleather office sets, Abbas al-Akkad has everything you could possibly want if tackiness is your prerequisite.
Nasr City itself is a relatively young district. As any long-term resident will proudly inform you, less than 30 years ago this was all desert and sand dunes. When she married, she and her husband moved into an apartment a few blocks away from her childhood home. Remembering the days before Nasr City was a beacon of neon lights and tawdry window displays, Hakim has a hard time believing how rapidly—and messily—her neighborhood has grown.
While the street may not be crawling with clearly identifiable prostitutes, its sidewalks are heavily populated by roaming packs of salivating young men who confidently recognise any girls unaccompanied by parents. Our latest series involves profiling the streets and districts of Cairo. An old and beautiful city, those of us living here often overlook the history and life of the streets we rush through on our way to work or the crowds we curse at when Cairo traffic stands still.