Events

Wed 26
Thu 27
  • Heart of the Equator at Alchemy
    Heart of the Equator at Alchemy
    Nov 27 9:00 pm to Nov 28 2:00 am - Alchemy
    Fight the increasinglt chilly Cairo evenings with tropical-inspired cocktails this Thursday at Alchemy, for an exotic start to the weekend. For...
  • Raindogs & the Cadillacs at Cairo Jazz Club
    Raindogs & the Cadillacs at Cairo Jazz Club
    Nov 27 9:00 pm to Nov 28 3:00 am - Cairo Jazz Club
    Tom Waits cover band, Raindogs, return to CJC, before the Cadillacs take over with their rockabilly Classics. Reservations at Cairo Jazz Club are...
  • Tamer Auf & Hassan Abou Alam at VENT
    Tamer Auf & Hassan Abou Alam at VENT
    Nov 27 11:00 pm to Nov 28 4:00 am - VENT
    Catch Cairo DJs, Tamer Auf and Hassan Abou Alam spinning house and minimal techno at Downtown bar/art-space, VENT. For more information, call...
  • 'Tosca' Opera at Cairo Opera House
    'Tosca' Opera at Cairo Opera House
    Nov 25 8:00 pm to Nov 28 11:00 pm - Cairo Opera House
    Cairo Opera House presents a performance of 'Tosca' under the conductorship of David Crescenci. Set in Rome in 1800 the three-act piece tells...
  • Dr. K & Nael El Sheikh at O Bar
    Dr. K & Nael El Sheikh at O Bar
    Nov 27 9:00 pm to Nov 28 3:00 am - O Bar
    Dr. K and Nael El Sheikh are hitting the decks at the Fairmont Nile City's O Bar for a night of progressive and deep house. For reservations,...
Fri 28
  • House Obsession Ft. Zalaat, SHawky & NTahawy at Cairo Jazz Club
    House Obsession Ft. Zalaat, SHawky & NTahawy at Cairo Jazz Club
    Nov 28 10:00 pm to Nov 29 3:00 am - Cairo Jazz Club
    This special weekend edition of Cairo Jazz Club's House Obsession series welcomes young hot-shot DJs, Zalaat, SHawky and NTahawy to the CJC decks....
  • 'Tosca' Opera at Cairo Opera House
    'Tosca' Opera at Cairo Opera House
    Nov 25 8:00 pm to Nov 28 11:00 pm - Cairo Opera House
    Cairo Opera House presents a performance of 'Tosca' under the conductorship of David Crescenci. Set in Rome in 1800 the three-act piece tells...
  • The Friday Jazz Brunch at Napa Grill
    The Friday Jazz Brunch at Napa Grill
    Nov 28 1:00 pm to Nov 28 5:00 pm - Napa Grill
    Head over to Fairmont Nile City for a family brunch at Napa Grill, where you can feast on a buffet of international cuisine and let the little...
  • Sparkling Jazz Brunch at Conrad Cairo Hotel
    Sparkling Jazz Brunch at Conrad Cairo Hotel
    Nov 28 1:00 pm to Nov 28 6:00 pm - Solana
    Enjoy a luxury Friday brunch at Conrad Cairo Hotel’s Mediterranean restaurant, Solana, where’s there’s plenty to eat and plenty...
  • Ezz El Ostool at After Eight
    Ezz El Ostool at After Eight
    Nov 28 11:00 pm to Nov 29 3:00 am - After Eight
    Sahara front-man, Ezz El Ostool, flies solo at Downtown Cairo's After Eight with his trademark Rai-infused tracks. For reservations, call 01003398000.
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Highlights

Restaurants

Cortigiano: Wholesome Family Diner in Maadi

Cortigiano: Wholesome Family Diner in Maadi

There's something about these quintessential family restaurants in Cairo. It might be the wholesome meals or a sense of nostalgia from hundreds of Fridays spent eating together. Cortigiano is one of those. It's come a long way since we visited their original branch in Dokki, so we decided to stop by one of the other branches in Maadi. Located on the quiet Road 7, Cortigiano takes up a cozy spot that you can identify from the red brick and plant pots exterior. Inside, the décor is different shades of brown and beige, with all the seating options looking quite comfortable. A friendly waiter showed us to our table, handed us our menus and retreated for a bottle of water. We opted for the surprisingly pricey Shrimp Cocktail (76.95LE) from the appetisers and a Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad (36.95LE). For our mains, the Beef Tenderloin with Black Pepper (93.50LE) caught our eyes, as did the Pollo Alla Griglia (61.95LE) Serving time isn't as fast as you'd hope, unfortunately. It's not that the service wasn bad - it just slow. When the Shrimp Cocktail arrived, we were quite disappointed; rubbery shrimp, that tasted quite bland, with a slightly metallic-tasting cocktail sauce. The salad came next, featuring the regular iceberg lettuce, grilled chicken strips, and Caesar dressing. The dressing was thin, diluted and ultimately quite weak in taste, and there were minimal croutons. The Beef Tenderloin was a pleasant surprise, but we're unsure if that's because the starters set the bar so low. Served with the traditional two sides of sautéed vegetables and fluffy white rice, the Beef Tenderloin, albeit not being the greatest quality meat, was cooked to the requested medium, and the sauce pleasingly subtle. The Pollo Alla Griglia is a barbecued chicken breast marinated with lemon, herbs, oil, garlic and thyme, and served with two sides. While again, the chicken wasn't incredible - the marination didn't leave the kind of mark that the potency of its ingredients would have you believe - it was cooked nicely and the dish was extremely filling. Practically all the items on the menu were huge in portion, but the prices aren't as affordable as they used to be. In fact, they've almost doubled since our 2010 review. But while some of the food is hit and miss, the pleasant atmosphere and all around comfortable feeling you have at Cortigiano seems to keep people coming back.

Shopping

AUC Bookstore: Extensively Stocked Bookshop in Downtown Cairo

AUC Bookstore: Extensively Stocked Bookshop in Downtown Cairo

By far, probably the most prestigious, stylish and well-stocked English language bookshop in Cairo is located inside the Downtown campus of the American University in Cairo;  the exquisite two-storey English bookstore is open to anyone, not just students and faculty members. Just provide some ID at the entrance and the security guard will direct you through the university grounds to the  shop.  Though heavily guarded and shielded from view from the outside, the university grounds feature an enchanting green garden that is incredibly tranquil and carefully tended to by the gardeners. The quiet, green area is dotted with  wooden seating, so you can sit and relax in a place of beauty and peace.  Inside the building, the silence is everywhere, and that must be respected by all visiting. The book prices are on the expensive side, however; Rhonda Byrne's The Secret, for example, costs 100LE, while a beautiful and large hardback copy of the Qur'an (in English) costs 330LE. Though a range of different books can be found, a strong emphasis is placed on subjects corresponding to fields of study at AUC.  Some of the clearly labelled sections within this immaculately organised vicinity include: Learning Arabic, Poetry and Drama and Classics, which contain books by William Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway and Charles Dickens. A tiny area also focuses on colourful children's books which are very beautifully bound and carefully presented; there are some wonderful pop-up books, too, which would make wonderful gifts.  Another area has a small selection of stationary with journals, notebooks and sketchbooks; one A4 sketchbook costs 40LE and one, A5 leather bound journal costs 100LE. Should you wish to take a moment to browse through some books, there are a couple of wooden chairs and tables available in the far side of the book shop and there will always be somebody available should you have any queries or concerns.

Cafés

Thomas Patisserie: Sweets, Cakes & Desserts in New Cairo

Thomas Patisserie: Sweets, Cakes & Desserts in New Cairo

Having already made its name in the Egyptian dessert market, Thomas Patisserie is by no means, an unfamiliar brand. Thomas' latest branch in New Cairo, however, is still new and pristine and so, being the adamant sweet-tooths we are, we decided to hit it up for a much-needed sugar fix. Located in a rather odd part of New Cairo, in the Medical Park,  Thomas is relatively spacious yet lacks any seating areas; it's the type of patisserie you go to when you want to take your desserts to-go. The interior appearance of the venue unabashedly leans to the sleek, dark, black spectrum of decor; an obvious attempt at obtaining a chic and posh design. The whole vibe, however, is a little too much and ends up looking a little tacky rather than the elegant. The place offers a variety of desserts, divided into the two obvious types; Western and Middle- Eastern/ Oriental treats. Taking a glance at all the desserts offered at the time of our visit, we couldn't help but notice that the gateaux and cakes looked much better-stocked and more alluring than their Oriental counterparts. The Oriental desserts on display, however, included lots of the classics like Basbousa (40LE-60LE/ Kilo), Konafa, and Baklava amongst others. You can also order a selection of the three for 130LE/Kilo. We migrated to the better lit display of all the gateaux, tarts and cakes one could ever think of. From round, English-type, breakfast-friendly cakes (70LE) to full-on, occasion-orientated cakes (120LE-150 LE for a small one and 170LE-210LE for a large one), the cakes came in all sizes with all kinds of flavours and toppings.  Moreover, the infamous French delicacies, Macaroons, were also available in a multitude of flavours (175LE/ kilo). Gateaux, both normal-sized (9LE-16LE/piece) and soiree-sized (100LE/kilo), were also available and we opted for a few pieces to indulge in. Other savoury baked goods can also be found at Thomas, including pates, croissants and mini pizzas (5.50LE-8LE/ piece). Gourmet chocolates (175LE/ Kilo) are also offered and would make lovely gifts for any occasion. Our gateaux were well-wrapped in a box and were pleasing to the eye. The classic, sugar-topped, millefeuille was light, yet decadent, with the pastry tasting exceptionally fresh.  The mango tarte was also quite delightful and light. The chocolate gateaux, however, despite tasting alright seemed to lack a certain oomph; chocolate desserts should never taste average. All in all, Thomas offers quite a lovely selection of desserts for all kinds of occasions. Despite its wishy-washy design and quite peculiar location, it still did have adequate service, with super friendly staff. The desserts themselves were not ground-breaking in the taste department, but were still of notable quality.

Nightlife

L'Aubergine: Nightlife Favourite's Heliopolis Branch Fails to Measure Up to the Original

L'Aubergine: Nightlife Favourite's Heliopolis Branch Fails to Measure Up to the Original

For the longest time, bars in Cairo were predominantly, and maybe even justifiably, concentrated in the central areas of the capital, leaving residents of the city's outskirts, in places like 6th of October City, Heliopolis and even Maadi, to make an exhaustive trip into town – and an even more exhaustive trip back – in search of that thing we call nightlife. Two or so years or go, however, Heliopolis nightlife exploded (a little); one piece of the proverbial shrapnel that subsequently landed on a dark and sleepy stretch of Omar Ebn El Khattab Street was L'Aubergine. A longstanding favourite in Zamalek, the bar's move to Masr El Gedida was a risky one and, though it has stood strong since, there's a set of drawbacks that have led the bar to plateau. Said drawbacks are superseded by one – and it's a biggie: the fact that the sleek and aesthetically-clean bar does not have a license to serve imported spirits. No one has been a more ardent supporter of local industry than Cairo 360 and the #BuyLocal trend, but we'd be kidding ourselves if we try to apply this to alcohol. One way to get around this problem is to order a cocktail, which the L'Aubergine staff pull-off pretty well and, as the spirits are local, they're deliciously cheap. A classic whiskey sour (30LE) was served in generous amount and was chugged down pretty quickly. Two of the more peculiarly named cocktails produced mixed results, though. The Sexy Bitch (30LE) saw vodka, pineapple juice, blue curaçao and grenadine served in a tall glass, but was sickly sweet and too heavy on the pineapple. The Horny Paul (45LE), however, packed much more of a punch, thanks to its combination of vodka, tequila, rum and lemonade; it was sharp, tangy and surprisingly refreshing and you could taste all three spirits. Away from the cocktails, beers are between 30LE and 35LE – a safe and reasonably-priced choice. If you can overlook this imported-spirit-deficiency, then L'Aubergine is a pleasant, if unremarkable, bar where one can enjoy a casual drink with chums – at least that's what one would hope. Unlike the Zamalek branch's organically nonchalant atmosphere, L'Aubergine Heliopolis hovers over the idea of being a high-end lounge without really committing to it or any other personality. The decor is dark, cold, cool and demure – all acceptable attributes of a bar. But loud, inappropriately energetic and bass-ridden music, peculiar transparent cafe chairs and TV screens systematically jolt you out of getting comfortable. In fairness, the venue as a space is treated sensibly and you can find seclusion on the higher round tables and stools, but it's difficult to judge whether one should turn up in smart, tucked-in shirt or more casual attire.

Arts & Culture

Safar Khan Art Gallery: Abdel Salam Eid Exhibition

Safar Khan Art Gallery: Abdel Salam Eid Exhibition

Over the years, Safar Khan Art Gallery in Zamalek has featured exhibitions by some of the top artists on the contemporary visual arts scene like Hussein Fawzy, Farouk Hosny and Ahmed Nawar to name a few. Art in Egypt as a community has become more and more inclusive, but the gallery has been able to guarantee a certain quality, and even prestige, of visual art thanks to their selections. Abdel Salam Eid was born in 1943 in Alexandria and is a professor of Photography in the Fine Arts faculty at Alexandria University. While he has received several national and international accolades for his work in photography, this particular exhibition featured the use of many unusual mediums and materials – rope and plastic forks are two of the most peculiar. The masterpiece of the exhibition is placed close to the entrance, to the right, and also serves as the subject of the exhibition's promotional poster. Combining photography, mosaics, and 3D sculptures of birds in the centre, the piece captures the artist's methodology quite aptly. But Eid's interesting approach doesn't end with the unusual materials he employs, as he uses them in unusual ways, too. In another, much larger, piece, the mosaic element sees Eid use the tiles face down, revealing the rough, corrugated backside. The tiles were sliced to tiny pieces and then reassembled to form interlocking geometric patterns reminiscent of Islamic motifs. To contrast the ceramic mosaic tiles, he uses blue glass towards the top which makes the entire piece pop with colour. One can't help but be impressed by Eid's vision in utilising simple, domestic materials available in our. The use of rope in particular demands a closer look; while it looks haphazard, closer inspection reveals well studied interlocking patterns. He achieves a strange harmony between different textures like pieces of cloth, wood and even metal parts to form a complete composition. Aside from collages and different textures, the Ecoline paintings – similar to watercolours, but denser and closer to coloured ink with much more vibrant colours – also particularly eye-catching. The paintings reveal many forms of intersecting colours open to interpretation. Whether you're a fan of contemporary art with the patience to observe and find an explanation in a painting or not, Abdel Salah Eid's unique approach has made for an endlessly fascinating collection.

Health & Fitness

Mohamed Al Sagheer: New Cairo Branch Proves Popular Chain is Still the Best for Hair

Mohamed Al Sagheer: New Cairo Branch Proves Popular Chain is Still the Best for Hair

Often times, we find ourselves craving some pampering thanks to  gruelling daily pressures of life in Cairo and there are few better ways to start a day than by heading off to one of our all-time favourite salons for some haircare. we made our way to Mohamed Al Sagheer. Located in the ever-peaceful and ever-green Katameya Heights compound, the New Cairo branch of Mohamed Al Sagheer appears deceivingly small from the outside. After climbing up the stairs that lead to its entrance, however, we were pleasantly surprised to find that it is in fact quite roomy. We were greeted by some friendly, well-groomed staff who swiftly dressed us in white robes, took down our request for a blow-drying and straightening treatment (90LE), before leading us to the waiting area. Our 15 minute wait, which was great seeing as how the place was quite crowded during the time of our visit, allowed us to take in the refreshingly chic yet simple design of the beauty salon. With a clean-cut white colour scheme and windows everywhere that allow the bright sunlight to seep in, the place just screams with positive energy. Modern furnishings, including some interesting looking clear plastic chairs with colourful cushions and some pop-art inspired portraits of iconic entertainers including Audrey Hepburn hung on the walls, tied the whole de jour theme of the place together. Our wait came to an end with our hairdresser escorting us to another room, where we were seated in front of a long, full-body mirror. He immediately started discussing with us how we wanted our hair styled, giving us professional tips regarding which style would suit our face shape more. Upon agreeing on a certain style, he immediately began to work his magic through our messy tassels. Unfortunately, however, the whole blow-drying and straightening process was no walk in the park; at times, it hurt given the length and volume of hair and his tight grip. The end result, however, was breath-taking; shiny, volumised and not at all fluffy or out-of-control; it looked perfect. The hair spray used, we must add, was also of high-end quality and helped keep our hair smelling amazing whilst being under control throughout the day. All in all, Mohamed Al Sagheer just never fails to amaze, with its wonderful, welcoming staff and overall efficient service. Sure, we may have suffered a minor headache due to all the yanking and pulling of our hair, but beauty is pain, right? Plus, the splendid end result made it all worth the hassle. 

Music

Tove Lo: Queen of the Clouds

Tove Lo: Queen of the Clouds

Singer-songwriter, Tove Nilsson, first made her way to everyone's ears with debut single, '(Habits) Stay High,' and now the twenty-seven year-old Swede, who was discovered by the iconic Max Martin, has just released her first studio album. Sweden has a fine history of producing unique pop; Abba aside, Swedish acts have successfully infiltrated UK and US charts in the past and continue to do so. The Cardigans were all the rage in the 90s and more recent examples include the Knife, the Concretes and Lykke Li who have all had varying success outside their homeland in the last decade. It's easy, then, to say that expectations are somewhat high for Ms Lo; but she meets them with aplomb. Queen of the Clouds is divided into three parts – 'The Sex', 'The Love' and 'The Pain' – with each narrating a different stage of a relationship.  The first section carries an edgy theme of carefree love and lust, riddle with risqué lyrics. 'My Gun' is unapologetically racy, 'I Like 'Em Young' is as daring as its title implies and 'Talking Body' is equally as unrepentant in its approach to sex. 'Time Bomb' opens the second chapter of the story and sets a different theme as the relationship teeters between love and incompatibility, with a piano intro leading to a fast-paced chorus. With tracks like 'Not on Drugs', the album finds a venn diagram-like space that is best described as Taylor Swift and Katy Perry after they've knocked back a dozen cans of Red Bull, with its endearingly basic-pop lyrics yet explosive, disco-inspired beats. The love affair crashes and burns in the third part of the album as Nilsson croons, "And then there's no good way to end things/ 'Cause it's ending, y'know?" in 'Thousand Miles' which features a more laid back, monotonic beat that allows her vocals to take centre stage. The album's lead single 'Habits (Stay High)' features in the last part and, alongside 'This Time Around', sees Lo at her angst-ridden best. For the many that were eager to find what else Tove Lo had in her musical armoury, this will not disappoint; the bustling brunette meets the expectations of the bold, raw take on pop that her early hype promised. Queen of the Clouds mixes fun, dance-friendlybeats, with grand choruses and edgy, soulful lyrics in a neat little, edible package.

Sights & Travel

The Cairo Tower: Still the Best View of Egypt's Capital

The Cairo Tower: Still the Best View of Egypt's Capital

With quiet streets overflowing with refreshing greenery, fine restaurants, cafes and bars, Zamalek is one of Egypt's most attractive districts and home to one of Cairo's top monumental attractions - the Cairo Tower.  Just north of the Museum of Modern Art, the Cairo Tower has been the tallest structure in Egypt and North Africa for approximately fifty years, surpassed on the continent only by Hillbrow Tower in South Africa. With sixteen floors in total, the tower stands at an amazing 187 meters. Some people today say that it has become one of Cairo's most famous landmarks after the Pyramids of Giza and many famous figures - presidents, politicians and movie-stars including Katherine Hepburn - have marvelled at a truly unique view of Cairo. Designed by Egyptian architect, Naoun Chebib, the tower was built using ganite, between the years 1954 to 1961.  Granite is also the same material used by ancient Egyptians which is symbolic in its own way as is its unique structure and fantastical form. That lotus plant-like structure that we see when we look up into the sky is of no accident; it is in fact symbolic to the ancient Egyptians as this was the very plant used to make papyrus.  Something that not many people are aware of when it comes to the Cairo Tower is where the financial support originated from and in fact it was the Government of the United States of America.  $6,000,000 were issued as a personal gift to Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in an attempt to gain his favour, but he in turn transferred these funds to the Egyptian government for the purpose of building the Cairo Tower. Once inside, after paying an entry fee of 20LE for Egyptians and 70LE for non-Egyptians, the view from the top is absolutely breathtaking in both daylight and night time when Cairo is lit up in all its glory.  In fact, if timed right, you can witness a romantic, radiant sunset that can be quite an enchanting experience and quite possibly the best time to be stood above the city.  At the very peak of the tower are two restaurants, one being the famous rotating restaurant where guests can sit by the window and enjoy a meal whilst gazing upon the city of Cairo, though the prices are a little steep considering the tower already requires an entry fee.  A Shrimp Cocktail starter costs a staggering 90LE. It takes an average of seventy minutes for the restaurant to complete one full rotation and moves at an almost unnoticeable speed.  It is even possible to see the Pyramids from on a clear day. Opening times are from 8AM until midnight during the winter months and from 9AM until 1AM in the summer time, making it accessible all day and late into the night.  The entrance to the tower can get quite busy considering there is only one small elevator which holds a total of eight people. Once inside though it takes no time to get to the top.
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Win! Two-Night Stay at Conrad Cairo Hotel!
Win! Two-Night Stay at Conrad Cairo Hotel!