Cairo 360 Guide to Cairo, Egypt

Events

Wed 01
  • Ladies Night at Vintage Bar & Lounge
    Ladies Night at Vintage Bar & Lounge
    Jun 01 9:00 pm to Jun 02 2:00 am - Vintage Bar & Lounge
    Renaissance Cairo Mirage City Hotel's Vintage Bar & Lounge welcomes Cairo's femme fatales to let their hair down with Ladies Night....
  • Mafeesh Sa7ib Fe Bamboo at Bamboo
    Mafeesh Sa7ib Fe Bamboo at Bamboo
    Jun 01 10:00 pm to Jun 02 5:00 am - Bamboo
    Resident DJs 3abkarino, Kiko and Bob lead the charge with some Oriental music at Bamboo with Mafeesh Sa7ib Fe Bamboo. For reservations,...
  • 'The Blue Door' Exhibition at Zamalek Art Gallery
    'The Blue Door' Exhibition at Zamalek Art Gallery
    May 15 10:30 am to Jun 12 9:00 pm - Zamalek Art Gallery
    Zamalek Art Gallery Amina El Demirdash's new exhibition in Venue I.'The Blue Door' sees the artist celebrate the coliur blue as a sign...
  • 'From Egyptian Land' Exhibition at Zamalek Art Gallery
    'From Egyptian Land' Exhibition at Zamalek Art Gallery
    May 15 10:30 am to Jun 12 9:00 pm - Zamalek Art Gallery
    by Ayman Saadawy in Venue II. 'From Egyptian Land' sees the sculptor celebrate Egypt's history with an all-bronze collection. For more...
  • 'Harmony' Exhibition at Art Corner
    'Harmony' Exhibition at Art Corner
    May 25 11:00 am to Jun 30 8:00 pm - Art Corner
    Zamalek gallery, Art Corner, hosts Magda El Sharqawy's latest exhibition, 'Harmony'. The gallery is closed on Sundays. For more...
Thu 02
  • Seafood Festival at Napa Grill
    Seafood Festival at Napa Grill
    Jun 02 7:00 pm to Jun 02 11:00 pm - Napa Grill
    Fairmont Nile City invite Cairo's seafood fans for an open buffet and live music in popular restaurant, Napa Grill. Entry is 250LE++ per...
  • The Fisherman's Hook at the State
    The Fisherman's Hook at the State
    Jun 02 7:00 pm to Jun 02 11:00 pm - The State
    Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski kicks off the weekend with a lavish seafood buffet at the State. 480LE+++ per person. For reservations, call...
  • 'The Blue Door' Exhibition at Zamalek Art Gallery
    'The Blue Door' Exhibition at Zamalek Art Gallery
    May 15 10:30 am to Jun 12 9:00 pm - Zamalek Art Gallery
    Zamalek Art Gallery Amina El Demirdash's new exhibition in Venue I.'The Blue Door' sees the artist celebrate the coliur blue as a sign...
  • 'From Egyptian Land' Exhibition at Zamalek Art Gallery
    'From Egyptian Land' Exhibition at Zamalek Art Gallery
    May 15 10:30 am to Jun 12 9:00 pm - Zamalek Art Gallery
    by Ayman Saadawy in Venue II. 'From Egyptian Land' sees the sculptor celebrate Egypt's history with an all-bronze collection. For more...
  • 'Harmony' Exhibition at Art Corner
    'Harmony' Exhibition at Art Corner
    May 25 11:00 am to Jun 30 8:00 pm - Art Corner
    Zamalek gallery, Art Corner, hosts Magda El Sharqawy's latest exhibition, 'Harmony'. The gallery is closed on Sundays. For more...
Fri 03
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Highlights

Restaurants

'Som3a Basha' & Much More: Cairo Marriott Hotel Has Plenty in Store This Ramadan

'Som3a Basha' & Much More: Cairo Marriott Hotel Has Plenty in Store This Ramadan

As one of the most unique hotels of its kind, Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Award winner, Cairo Marriot Hotel & Omar Khayyam Casino, is engrained in many a Cairene memory as providing one of the most distinctive luxury experiences in the city – especially when it comes to occasions. This Ramadan, the hotel's uber popular Ramadan kheima, Som3a Basha, is back with a bang, offering Cairo the kind of unique sohour experience than only the Marriott can. Taking cues from its historic, palatial backdrop, if last year is anything to go by, then Som3a Basha is set to come one of the hottest hangouts this Ramadan. Said palatial setting is set to extend to the tent, offering the best of what is a historic surrounding that, last year, set the tone for one of the best sohour atmospheres in the capital. Though the folk at the Marriott are keeping their cards close to their chest, they've promised a bigger and better version of their trademark Ramadan kheima, that builds on previous years' success and popularity, with live entertainment (think Oriental takht) and screenings of the key games in the upcoming European football championship, Euro 2016, set to add a colourful bustling touch to the tent, as will the sohour buffet featuring street-style food stations, which last year earned a glowing review from Cairo 360 staff. While Som3a Basha is the main attraction at the Marriott, there's plenty more around the hotel marking the Holy Month. Omar's Cafe is offering a fetar buffet (280LE++ per person, 140LE++ for children between 5 and 10), while Egyptian Nights is taking full advantage of its theme, with a la carte fetar, a special 'Al Qahwa] corner, live music in the evenings andmini-shisha giveaways, as well as other traditional touches such as an erkesous drink man (pictured below), masharaty shows and Khan El Khalili-inspired kisosks. No Ramadan would be complete without kahk, though, and the Bakery is more than obliging with the traditional cookie and other Oriental sweets available. For more information about Som3a Basha and all of the Marriott's Ramadan specials, check out the hotel's official Facebook page, or call 02-2728-3000.

Shopping

The Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards 2016: Floristry & Floral Design Award Winners

The Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards 2016: Floristry & Floral Design Award Winners

There's pretty much a florist on every corner of Cairo these days and Cairenes have no qualms in marking an occasion with an over-the-top bouquet of flowers. More than just a token gift for the mother-in-law or angry wife, wedding season is when the city's best florists shine. But while flowers are an easy way to add a little shine to any occasion, the Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Award winners in the category of Floristry & Floral Design, we have a group that stands petals above the rest with a rare quality and flair. Bellissimo Though Bellissimo can be rightly considered something of a full-on event planner that can help you with everything from researching themes, to booking photographers, it's the shops expert versatile service in floral design that makes it one of the best florists in Cairo. Box of Roses Creativity is at the heart of Box of Roses' growing popularity in Heliopolis and beyond. With some truly brilliant flower-based gift packages, the shop has also garnered a loyal following for the fantastic service and staff. Fleurinjy Maadi florist, Fleurinjy, has been on many a speed-dial for some time now as a go-to for flower-appropriate occasions. With a variety of floristry options fit for all occasions, the shop is also one of the best when it comes to promptness. Flower Power Having begun life in a small shop in New Cairo Flower Power's often stunning floral arrangements has seen it expand to be one of the most popular florists in the city, thanks to its clean, modern approach that isn't afraid to keep things simple and chic. Khadra A gardening enthusiast's haven, Khadra in Sheikh Zayed sells everything from herbs to tree and has been championing green-living vehemently, while also offering a more wholesome approach to floristry fuelled by its love of the great outdoors. Outside In Described as 'Floral Design Gallery', Outside In stands out from the rest of the category winners for one reason: it sells artificial flowers, not real ones. While most fake foliage often looks cheap, Outside In's arrangements make for some outstanding, and lasting, interior decor pieces. Touch of Flower Despite offering everything from entertainment booking to dance-floor instillations as part of its event-planning exploits, the way Touch of Flower applies its already excellent floral designs to other elements of an event have made them popular amongst newly-weds. For more on the 2016 Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards, click here, where you can find all of this year's winners.

Cafés

The Smith: British Pop Culture Comes to Cairo at Quirky Heliopolis Cafe & Restaurant

The Smith: British Pop Culture Comes to Cairo at Quirky Heliopolis Cafe & Restaurant

It can be argued that Cairo, or some of it, is a thriving city for all that is new – none more so than with the restaurant scene, which not continues to in satisfy many international cuisine cravings, but along the way, also continues to impress, with interesting concepts. One such venue is the Smith; a restaurant and cafe which boasts a quirky British pop culture mood. Located near Cortigiano in Heliopolis, the Smith demands attention with its large lighted outdoor sign. As a venue, it's comprised of a small outdoor and a invitingly kitsch British-themed indoor area, which involves Union Jack-upholstered sofas, brown leather chairs and an overall vintage, retro atmosphere, with posters of old British films and even half a wall-hung Mini Cooper adding to the aesthetic. The space also boasts a bar, but one that serves only virgin cocktails At first, we expected some staples of British cuisine, only to find that the Smith's menu features typical international dishes that you'll find in many restaurants, like grilled chicken platters, salads, sandwiches and pastas. Perhaps the only British element in the menu is the dishes' names, with items like Manchester Fillet (115LE) and London Veal (89LE). Dipping into the starters, we went for Mozzarella sticks (31LE), and, for our mains, we picked the Liverpool Chicken (70LE), as well as the Bacon Cheeseburger (60LE). With little to no crispy texture, the mozzarella sticks were actually round in shape and served with fry sauce (essentially ketchup and mayo) – not honey-mustard as promised in the menu. The mozzarella was deliciously molten, nonetheless and served to quieten down our stomach-rumblings. Moving onto the main dishes, despite a soft and juicy centre, the Bacon Cheeseburger was essentially burnt from the outside, giving what was an otherwise solid combination of beef bacon and melted cheese in a soft bun, an unpleasant burnt taste. The Liverpool Chicken proved to be better, but still short of perfect. Comprised of five medium-sized pieces of deep-fried and well-seasoned chicken breasts, the dish is served in freshly made and thick Provencal sauce - a combination of tomato sauce, garlic and onions - and sprinkled with mozzarella cheese. Even though the sauce gave the dish that extra kick in flavour, it also made parts of the chicken's crispy exterior quite clammy. The dish was served with deliciously spiced fries and fluffy, perfectly-cooked rice. Shortly after, we decided to satisfy our sweet tooth with a dessert from Britain's neighbours from across the English Channel, France: Crème Brulee (22LE). Though classic dessert's custard was smooth and creamy, the golden-coloured sugar layer atop it was neither as crispy nor as caramelised as it should have been, taking away the key element of the dessert. We ended the meal with a cold and perfectly summer-friendly Caramel Frappuccino (29LE) which had a bold yet refreshing coffee flavour, and a kiwi-mango flavoured shisha (35LE) which perfectly mingled the separate flavours together and was promptly tended to. The Smith's spectacular interior and overall mood definitely stands out as one of the most unique in Cairo; but it was one that raised our expectations for the quality of dishes it serves and, unfortunately, these expectations weren't met. As a cafe and restaurant, the Smith's menu is a little generic and, at the time of our visit, execution was well below par. Overall, a better place to hangout than to eat and drink.

Nightlife

The Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards 2016: Nightlife Award Winners

The Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards 2016: Nightlife Award Winners

While nightlife in Cairo is as varied and eclectic as it has ever been, bars and clubs still don't have it easy. Licensing hurdles aside, there's been a worryingly high turnover in the scene over the last few days, with some bars disappearing very soon after opening. With the winners of the Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards 2016 in the Nightlife category, however, we have the bars, clubs and lounges that have been influential in developing the nightlife scene in Cairo, while maintaining a quality and unique traits to stand out from the rest. Aperitivo Having remained relatively unscathed after the dramatic closure of sister-bar, La Bodega, Aperitivo is one of the few bars in Zamalek that you might consider high-end, offering a sophisticated and demure nightlife experience. Cairo Jazz Club One of the most popular and enduring bars, Cairo Jazz Club is a nightlife institution in itself. Boasting a recent minor revamp of sorts, no venue in Cairo hosts as much and as varied live entertainment, and continues to be the standard bearer of contemporary nightlife in Cairo. L'Aubergine A favourite in Zamalek for what seems like forever, L'Aubergine's bustling atmosphere, prompt service and under-rated food have found it on the Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards winners list for the third year in a row. LIV Lounge With a recent boom in more regular events, Heliopolis' LIV Lounge is one of the more unique bars in Cairo, boasting the sleekest of interiors and a very contemporary feel that bars and clubs have historically found hard to nail down. O.Liv.O While it's pizza is among the most popular in Zamalek, it's the bar-based package that elevates O.Liv.O amongst both pizza specialists and bars, offering a casual, relaxed and pleasingly lived-in atmosphere. Pub 28 Enduring Zamalek watering-hole, Pub 28, has nobly remained unchanged over the years and continues to enjoy a fiercely loyal clientele that ranges in age thanks to its traditional pub atmosphere. Riverside Jack-off-all-trades, Riverside, has become a whole new beast recently, but in terms of nightlife, the Zamalek venue has stepped its game up and has become a regular gigging-spot for some of the ebst bands and DJs in the city. The Garden Though its sister venue, the Garden Nile Front, has been stealing a bit of its limelight this year, the off-shoot bar hasn't quite captured what made Korba bar, the Garden, great. Expect it to be busy this summer. The Tap Everyone's favourite Maadi bar, the Tap, continues to be a leader in its field, thanks to its unique set-up and atmosphere, its regular entertainment schedule and that x-factor that you just can't seem to put your finger on. The Tap East From Maadi to New Cairo, the Tap East took some of the best elements of the original branch and turned into a concept that shifts more focus on the food, while maintaining a packed-entertainment schedule and a unique and well-used space. Villa 55 Decent prices, alcohol, food and shisha aren't a combination you can find just anywhere in Cairo; not only can you find at modest Maadi favourite, Villa 55/Pub 55, but you'll find it wrapped up in a casual, no-frills and welcoming atmosphere. For more on the 2016 Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards, click here, where you can find all of this year's winners.

Arts & Culture

The Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards 2016: Arts & Culture Award Winners

The Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards 2016: Arts & Culture Award Winners

With the fate of Townhouse Gallery this year, many fear of what could become of art and its espression. But despite, this Egypt has a long and storied history with the arts and, in the last few years, the local arts and culture scene has become bigger, more eclectic and, most significantly, more encompassing of wider participation, as well as more accessible to the masses. One can speculate as to what has caused this; many will point to the January 25th Revolution empowering more and more artists to emerge under a newfound sense of expression. That, in many cases, is true, but the 2016 Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Award winners in this category also be credited with providing a platform for emerging artists and, generally, aiding the development of what is a burgeoning and evolving scene at an exciting time for arts in Egypt. 3elbt Alwan Though initially functioning as a cafe-come-art-space, 3elbt Alwan's consistent stream of top live music events has earned the Zamalek venue's first ECA, particularly in its efforts to host more obscure and underground artists as part of what is usually an eclectic schedule. Al Kahila Art Gallery Though it's one of the lesser recognised galleries in Cairo, Al Kahila Art Gallery continues to break Zamalek and Downtown Cairo's hold on being the centres of the art communities. With a wide range of exhibitions adorning their walls at any one time, the gallery has brought a touch of culture to Mohandiseen. Al Masar Gallery There's something of the old-school about Al Masar; the Zamalek gallery takes p a unique space in the stunning Baehler Mansion and often hosts the works of some of the pioneers of contemporary Egyptian art – something that has educated newer generations on the country's history in art. Art Talks Under the leadership of art consultant and collector, Faten Mostafa, Art Talks embodies the concept of the contemporary gallery, while also offering regular educational seminars that cover both art history and art theory. It has also come to pride itself on putting the spotlight on some of the best young artists in the country. Arts-Mart Occupying a gigantic space in the most unlikely of places, Arts-Mart started life as an online platform for artists to showcase and sell their work. Now a physical space on the Cairo-Ale Desert road, there are few as unique spaces in Cairo, which it uses to hold some remarkable group exhibitions. Contemporary Art Collective Founded in 20014 as an independent art initative, Downtown's CIC has become an important and influential institution in the world of photography, in holding exhibitions, screenings and a host of educational programs, courses and lessons. Darb 1718 A giant on the local arts and culture scene, Darb 1718 is possibly the most diverse and versatile venue of its kind. From live music and galleries, to workshops and festivals, this most important of cultural centres backs up its stunning location with a real drive to contribute to local communities, while exposing its visitors to some truly unique events and programs. El Genaina Theatre Located inside the Al Azhar Park, El Genaina is one of the few functioning traditional theatres in Cairo today. However, it's the theatre's summer programs that put them head and shoulders abve the rest, with a program that knows no limits in terms of genre. El Sawy Culurewheel Though public opinion on El Sawy Culturewheel is split, there's no doubting its importance on the local arts and culture scene – the fact that no other venue hosts as many events is testemant to its influence and popularity. With several halls and spaces, live music and theatre are the most frequent occurrence, but El Sawy also offers plenty of cultural events. Falaki Theatre As one of the premiere cultural venues in Downtown Cairo, Falaki Theatre plays host to varied and distinct events – be it student organised plays, or Downtown Contemprary Arts Festival events. Theatre largely goes unnoticed by the mainstream, but Falaki does a great job of bringing it to the forefront. Gallery Misr One of the more demure art venues in Zamalek, Gallery Misr has only been around for five years, but is amongst the best in what is a competitive area, thanks to its willingness to embrace more out-of-left-field art, while championing local talent. Gypsum Gallery Established in 2014, Garden City's Gyspum Gallery takes a more international approach and has consistently brought the works of foreign artists to Cairo. It's reach is owed in part to eight artists living between Alexandria, Cairo, Amman, Basel, Beirut and Tehran, as well as seasoned independent curator, Aleya Hamza. Magnolia As one of the newer cultural cubs in Zamalek, Magnolia Leaves of Art is almost one of the most unique, where most cultural pursuits can be enjoyed. Boasting a library, several film screening programs and the occasional live performance, Magnolia is set to become a valuable member of the scene. Photopia Heliopolis isn't as rich in arts and culture as more central area of Cairo, but Photopia stands as one of the best specialised cultural centres in the city. Catering the field of photography, Photopia hosts workshops, talks by leading industry figures, exhibitions and even the odd photography competition – all of which continue to capture the imagination of local photographers. Picasso Gallery Picasso Gallery's regularly rotating exhibitions in its well-conceived space has proven to be a gallery for the more experimental and abstract art you can see in Cairo – an critical role that is made all the more notable considering traditional local resistance to the untried ROOM Art Space In the last year, after finding its footing, ROOM Art Space has become a go-to for live music fans. The Garden City venue's eclectic entertainment schedules, which at one point even included a weekly drum circle, invites a huge range of different performers – something that has gained it plenty of fans. Safar Kahn Art Gallery It's small and it's intimate, but what Safar Khan lacks in space, it more than makes up for with its eclectic exhibitions and its commitment to showcasing, highlighting and celebrating local art, be it of more seasoned or emerging artists. Zamalek Art Gallery Now boasting two halls in which they often host two different, concurrent exhibitions, Zamalek Art Gallery is one of the most popular and most frequented galleries in Cairo and there are few glleries that host as many exhibitions in any given year. Zawya While a cinema doesn't have an obvious place on the local arts and culture scene, Zawya is no ordinary cinema. The modest Downtown venue brings film lovers in Egypt some of the best, and often most obscure, films from across the world and occupies a unique position on the scene. For more on the 2016 Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards, click here, where you can also see all of this year's winners.

Health & Fitness

The Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards 2016: Beauty & Wellness Award Winners

The Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards 2016: Beauty & Wellness Award Winners

It's only in recent times that Cairo has come to realise that beauty treatments are healing of the internal as much as the external. While many assume that for salons, for example, image rules all, the increasing amount of quality spas and their more holistic approach to beauty and wellness has seeped into beatifying. This is the key for the winners of this year's ECA Beauty & Wellness category; offering top-notch services that help mend mind, body and soul with excellent service and, occasionally, a panache and flair. Ahmed & Abdou Classy and elegant are probably the best words to describe popular salon, Ahmed & Abdou. But what has maintained a fierce loyalty among regulars, and what keeps newbies coming back, is their expert staff, who give you exactly what you ask for. Four Seasons Nile Plaza Spa Boasting a Nile-view that is every bit a part of its charm as anything else, the Four Seasons Nile Plaza Spa oozes the kind of stylish as you'd expect of the Four Seasons name and tops it all of with state-of-the-art facilities and one of the best personalised spa experience around. Indra Day Spa A valuable institution for Maadi residents, Indra Day Spa brings a Far Eastern touch to its aesthetic and atmosphere, which certainly contributes to the overall charm of what many consider to be the best non-hotel spas in the city. Kempinski the Spa Using purely organic products, the rotating treatments at Kempinski Nile Hotel's the Spa take their cues from seasonal cycles, which result in a truly versatile and eclectic set of services that are amongst the very best across Cairo. Kriss A giant in the field by name alone, the arrival of Kriss in Cairo heralded a new and very serious approach to the salon game, with their various hair treatments have given the salon an edge over its competitors in what is a an ever-growing crowd. La Coupe Located in Dokki, La Coupe is so often the go-to when you're in a rush, with the salon offering quick, efficient service from experienced staff, who also have the ability to cater to more elaborate requests with style and panache. Manuela Thai Spa A treasure cove of tranquillity in the otherwise busy and nosy Mohandiseen, the dim lights and serene atmosphere of Manuela Thai Spa swallow you into another world as soon as you step foot inside – a world of treatments that are great value-for-money. Mohamed Al Sagheer What can we say that hasn't already been said about Mohamed Al Sagheer. A continuing expansion all across Egypt over the last 12 months has cemented the chain's position as the most popular salons in the country. Nails & More There's an intimate, no-frills feel about Zamalek's Nails & More that has won it plenty of devoted fans on the island. The nail salon produces precise, quality results efficiently. So Spa Standing tall (and pink) on the southern tip of Zamalek, the Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah's So Spa is the third outlet at the hotel to win an award this year, thanks to its quality treatments and facilities – the highlight of which is a stunning open-air infinity pool. Toi Under the guidance of its seasoned owners, Toi has become one of the most popular salons in Cairo in a relatively short space of time. Offering an unrivalled level of expertise and experience, the use of quality products rounds off what is a near-perfect salon experience. Willow Stream Spa Fairmont Nile City dining outlets have done well in this year's edition of the Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards, but there are few winners as deserving as Willow Stream Spa: state-of-the-art facilities, expert staff and some of the best spa treatments in town. For more on the 2016 Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards, click here, where you can find all of this year's winners.

Music

Win! Tickets to Cairokee’s Gig at the Great Cairo Kidathon!

Win! Tickets to Cairokee’s Gig at the Great Cairo Kidathon!

This May, the folks at Omar Samra's Muricata are hosting a very special day that will see kids from across Cairo flood the streets of Zamalek for an event that sees fitness fun collide – such events and activities do exist, we swear! Said event is the Great Cairo Kidathon – find out more info here – which is set to take place on May 6th. The day will bring together children between the ages of 6 and 14 take for a 2km and 4km run, after which Muricata will be hosting a special family yoga session, as well as arts and crafts and wilderness workshops at El Sawy Culturewheel. With Safi on MC duties for the day, he's not the only big name in attendance, as Egypt's biggest band, Cairokee, will be putting the icing on top of the cake with a special performance and Muricata are giving you the chance to be right there, too... What? Muricata is giving three lucky Cairo 360 readers the chance to win five tickets each to the Cairokee gig! Why? Because it's Cairokee. Come on, guys. Where? El Sawy Culturewheel – still one of the best live music venues in Cairo. How do I get my hands on it? It's easy – just answer this simple question: In which year was the very first marathon held? Now what? Send your answers to freestuff@cairo360.com, with your full name, contact details and 'Muricata & Cairokee Competition' in the subject line. The competition ends at midnight on Wednesday 4rd of May 2016 so hurry up and send your answers in! Terms and Conditions apply.

TV & DVD

Saturday Night Live Bil Arabi: Behind the Scenes of the Middle East’s Most Talked-About Comedy Show

Saturday Night Live Bil Arabi: Behind the Scenes of the Middle East’s Most Talked-About Comedy Show

For many in Egypt, Friday is a day to do exactly nothing, but snooze till the afternoon – but not for Saturday Night Live Bil Arabi cast, who spend almost all of their Fridays running through the sketches for Saturday's show in the newly renovated Studio Masr. Catching them during rehearsals, the SNL Bil Arabi cast were putting some final touches on several sketches with the show's directors and writers, as well as the week's host, actress Ayten Amer, and music guests, Eftekasat. In what seemed like a cosy and jovial environment – with producers more than happy to invite us to watch the rehersals, as well as bringing us chocolate – we sat down with the entire cast during a short break. As a live to tape show, SNL's basic premise is built on comedy sketches inspired by social issues and current events, which, in Egypt, are aplenty and more often than not, make for great material, according to the cast. "We gather at the beginning of the week to come up with comedy sketches for every episode. Some of these sketches are specifically written for the hosts; so they do have a say in the ones involving them, 'Shadi Alfons, one of SNL stars, told us. The devil, however, is in the fine-tuning process that every sketch has to go through. With long working hours and sometimes having to stay overnight in the studio, both the writers and the cast settle on the final selected scenes to rehearse before the sketches are performed live on stage. Even when actors have rehearsed their roles separately and everything is settled for the on-stage rehearsals, sketches may be subject to a complete transformation. According to Hazem Ehab, he went home to rehearse a sketch only to find out the next day that it had been entirely changed. When asked if this process is frustrating for them or not, the cast said that it is an extremely rewarding process. "To us, rehearsals are like a product's testing phase before hitting the market. Rehearsals help us figure out the weak points in the script and improve it to create an even better sketch," former Al Bernameg, Khalid Mansour, explained. Rehearsals take place over three days, with a final dress rehearsal taking place on Saturday – the day of the show. While SNL has arrived into a culture that has always been big on comedy, there's no doubting that it's the first show of its kind in Egypt and the Middle East. Many have drawn parallels with Bassem Youssef's El Bernameg in terms of having a similar spirit in humour, but SNL's appeal has been the fact that it tackles lighter issues – dating, marriage, and even football. But that doesn't mean that the show hasn't been met with controversy; SNL Bil Arabi's version of The Assumption Song, The Zizo Song, was the show's first hit sketch. Although it went viral, it received mixed responses, with many dismissing it as being crass. Speaking on how much feedback effects the script or the writing process, Islam Ibrahim, one of SNL's actors, said that when it comes to comedy, each has his own taste. "Sometimes, we do sketches that we don't necessarily like, but the audience finds them hilarious – and the other way around." But having aired its first episode on February 20th of this year, the show was almost instantly received with great reviews. "The instant feedback we received from the internet showed us that people love the show or, at the very least, when they share our sketches on social media, it shows us they like them," Alfons said. Though the whole process of putting together an episode can be exhausting, the cast all are unanimous in their response to their favourite part of it – performing in front of a live audience. "We could be at only 60% energy going into a show, but when faced with an excited audience, laughs and applause, it gives us a huge boost,' explained cast member, Hazem Ehab. Asked if they believe that Saturday Night Live Bil Arabi can achieve the same longevity as its original, American counterpart, the cast seem happy to take it one show at a time. "Our only aim is to make people laugh and forget all about life's troubles. If we manage to do that with just one sketch out of the eight we perform, then we've fulfilled our mission," Islam Ibrahim concluded.
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Win! Dinner for Two at Torii Japanese Restaurant!
Win! Dinner for Two at Torii Japanese Restaurant!