|Volume II, Number 1||January 1st, 2001|
by Juergen Stryjak
The nineties have been the decade of the shopping mall in Cairo. Almost in every corner of the city, the Cairenes have witnessed grand openings of new malls, many of them architectural nightmares in glaring colors of baby clothes. Soon the Egyptians invented their own word for these palaces of consumption: Shopping Mul, the latter pronounced like the word "fool". I have not found anyone, anywhere, who could explain to me this strange kind of derivation.
Apparently, the new millennium wont see the end of this shopping mall blossoming. They are the souqs of a new age. Souq is the genuine Arabic word for market, not bazaar, as many think, and Egyptian malls and traditional souqs have a great deal in common. First of all the zahma, the crush, the large number of buyers and onlookers, which push each other through the dense crowd of people. Egyptian malls are meeting points, especially at days off and holidays, for whole families and teenagers groups, noisy and vivid, surely entertaining fun for tourists!
Just recently two new malls were inaugurated: the Talaat Harb Center downtown, a shining oversized treasure chest in excessive pharaonic kitsch, seven stories high, which seems to have landed like an architectural UFO in this area, completely alien to all other building styles around. And if you know Cairo, you will know, there are plenty of styles.
The second one is the Arkadia Mall ashore the Nile, which clearly aims at ringing in a new round in the shopping mall arms race. It is a center of superlatives, managed by Hilton and by far the largest one in Egypt. More than 500 shops await their customers, along with an ice rink, which wasnt working during my last visit there, probably due to Ramadan, the month of fasting, where people are used to shopping for some hours in the night. There is also a huge video wall, which wasnt working either, maybe because showing Michael Jackson clips dont fit the spirit of the holy month of Ramadan very much either.
The interior is great: imitating Babylons Hanging Gardens on a train station-like flower pot design level, but it looks nice, walls and ceiling connected by a glassy heaven, and elevators of glass, which float over the ice rink. You will have much time to explore the interior design, since you wont be able to head straight to certain shops. Always youll arrive at the wrong escalator or get lost in the catacombs between the shopping windows.
Yes, the shops, what to say about 500 shops. The visitor will find nearly everything, even a toyshop (ToysRUs), which is surprising for Egyptian shopping malls. Many international brands have outlets here, Timberland, Adidas, Nike, Habitat (furniture), as well as their Egyptian imitating counterparts, for example Armanio notice the o at the end of the word! Whilst strolling along the shop windows you will see, that platform shoe soles have conquered the Egyptian market, after they ruined the spinal columns of whole generations of Western teenagers. You can make your inmost secret dreams becoming true (Realize your dreams: American Sofas), or you take a rest in the food court, worth mentioning, because it not only features the inevitable international burger chains, you also find Indian and Chinese snack bars, the famous Abou Shaqra (Egyptian food) and Nathans.
At Cinderellas, a music shop, I came across a CD, which I certainly would have purchased, if CDs werent so indecently expensive in Egypt: Rahil Egyptian New-Age Music. I would love to know what this is, but Ill wait till I see the same thing on tape, which will be significantly cheaper, even if I need to by two of the same to have, at the end, at least one works properly.
Arkadia Shopping Mall. Corniche Al-Nil, Boulaq, Cairo, 300 meters (1000 feet) north of the World Trade Center and the Conrad International Hotel. Open daily from 10:00 am to 11:00 pm. Dont expect all of the shops to open at ten on the dot! On Sunday, some shops may be closed. ATM available (for getting Egyptian cash by using international credit cards), but most of the shops accept all major credit cards, too, even for little expenses.
Talaat Harb Center. Talaat Harb Street, Downtown, Cairo, near to the Cinema Odeon. Open daily from 10:00 am to at least 10:00 pm.
Nile Cruises By Jimmy Dunn
Celebration for the Young and Old By Mohamed Osama
The Western Desert of Egypt: Adventure Travel at its Best By Cassandra Vivan
The Latest Fashions in Ancient Egypt By Ilene Springer
Editor's Commentary By Jimmy Dunn
Ancient Beauty Secrets By Judith Illes
Book Reviews Various Editors
Hotel Reviews By Jimmy Dunn & Juergen Stryjak
Kid's Corner By Margo Wayman
Cooking with Tour Egypt By Mary K Radnich
Egyptian Exhibitions By Staff
Nightlife Various Editors
Restaurant Reviews Various Editors
Shopping Around Various Editors
Web Reviews By Siri Bezdicek
Last Updated: June 8th, 2011