Events

Sat 22
  • EL-FIT Grand Finale 2014 at SODIC West
    EL-FIT Grand Finale 2014 at SODIC West
    Nov 21 10:00 am to Nov 22 7:00 pm - The British International School in Cairo, SODIC West, 6th of October City, Cairo
    The biggest fitness event in Egypt is coming to a head over two days of blood, sweat and tears, as the finalists of season to of the EL-FIT...
  • SIDY at VENT
    SIDY at VENT
    Nov 22 10:00 pm to Nov 23 3:00 am - VENT
    Downtown bar/art-space, VENT,  hosts another weird and wonderful 'audio and video party' courtesy of SIDY. For more information, call 0225747898.
  • Contemporary Dance Night 2014 at Falaki Theatre
    Contemporary Dance Night 2014 at Falaki Theatre
    Nov 22 7:00 pm to Nov 22 10:00 pm - Falaki Theatre
    Aiming to introduce Cairo to diverse, contemporary dance, this year's Contemporary Dance Night is set to take place in Downtown Cairo's Falaki...
  • Nadah El Shazly at Balcon Lounge
    Nadah El Shazly at Balcon Lounge
    Nov 22 8:00 pm to Nov 22 10:00 pm - Balcon Lounge
    Utilising everything from her time singing with a German choir, to her own fondness for punk rock, jazz and Arabic music, Nadah El Shazly is one...
  • Wasla & Ashara Gharby at Cairo Jazz Club
    Wasla & Ashara Gharby at Cairo Jazz Club
    Nov 22 10:00 pm to Nov 23 3:00 am - Cairo Jazz Club
    Local alternative pop band, Wasla, take to the stage at CJC, before Ashara Gharby take over with their eclectic pop-blues fusion. Reservations...
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Highlights

Restaurants

Mikado: Express Sushi in Maadi

Mikado: Express Sushi in Maadi

There's an Italian restaurant in Maadi that we've been fans of for quite some time. In our last review,  Il Mulino boasted a breezy, comfortable outdoor area, combined with authentic Italian dishes that valiantly tries to stay clear of localisation. So when we heard it opened up an express sushi centre by the name of Mikado on its premises, frankly, we were a little alarmed. The concept of Mikado is very much an easy and unfussy express approach to sushi; you needn't bother with a menu or even be that aware of the many different types of the Japanese delicacy. Mikado make ready packaged boxes of 10, 20, and 40 pieces at affordable prices. You can specify if you want them roll based or Nigiri, but you don't have much control besides that. Curious to see what the selection would be like, as well as just how affordable they are, we opted for an All Rolls 40 Piece (169LE) platter; the 10 piece goes for 59LE and the 20 pieces for 99LE. The large plastic wrapped platter comes with two soy sauce and two teriyaki sauce dips, as well as the traditional ginger and wasabi. As for the rolls themselves, there were 12 rolls of crab, salmon and shrimp Hosomaki collectively, as well as 28 of their special Uramaki rolls broken down into four Philly Rolls, four Mikado Rolls, four Caterpillar Rolls, four Rainbow Rolls, four California Rolls, four Tamago Rolls and four Green Rolls. The special Uramaki rolls featured some of the more creative options like the Tamago - a Japaense omelette roll - and the Mikado Roll featuring salmon, mushrooms, cream cheese and green caviar. Unfortunately, while the sushi was certainly cheaper than practically any other restaurant in Cairo, the quality is somewhat reflected by that. Everything tasted a little stale, and nothing is particularly bursting with flavour - except for possibly the teriyaki sauce. Sushi, as mentioned before, is a delicacy and the express approach employed by Mikado somewhat diminishes and corrupts the very core of what is an already problematic and difficult food in Cairo. All in all, there are much better, if more expensive, sushi option around the capital and it isn't the kind of food too skimp on when it comes to cost. Unless you happen to trip and fall into Mikado, Il Mulino's very decent Italian food is a much better and safer option.

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.

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.

City Life

Cairo Weekend Guide: Cairo International Film Festival, Student DJ, Brunch & More!

Cairo Weekend Guide: Cairo International Film Festival, Student DJ, Brunch & More!

Hello Cairo! The crystal ball that is the Cairo 360 events calendar foresees a busy weekend, with festivals, gigs, parties, exhibitions aplenty across the capital. The 36th Cairo International Film Festival is well underway at Cairo Opera House, and there are plenty of films from across the globe to catch for a measly 20LE per ticket - for the full schedule, check out events calendar. On Thursday, Cairo Jazz Club kicks off the weekend with Screwdriver, who'll be belting out rock, pop, funk and blues covers, while VENT hosts Aly Goede. Dokki nightspot, Alchemy, celebrates all things vodka at Shiver and Noha Taha brings her vocal talents to Fairmont Nile City's Saigon Restaurant & Grill, whle O Bar welcomes progressive house DJ, Samer EGY. Meanwhile, belly-dancing Scot, Lorna of Cairo, takes the stage at Downtown's After Eight, while equally jiggly, Leila, snakes her hips at Bab El Nil. Vintage Bar & Lounge welcomes back Cairo's most outgoing for Karaoke Night, while Nuba Nour return to El Dammah Theater for an evening of Nubian inspired dance and music. Meanwhile, at FOur Seasons Nile Plaza's Graffiti, DJ Roro is ack on DJing duty. On Friday, Cairo Jazz Club host another Boogie Night with returning 'boogie monster', DJ Ramy, while local rock and jazz fusion group, Madina, take the stage at El Sawy Culturewheel. Ezz El Ostool brings his Rai-infused tracks to After Eight and Noha Taha plays her second consecutive gig at Saigon. Cairo's newest luxury hotel, Le Méridien Cairo Airport, invites you to a scrumptious Friday Brunch, while Napa Grill offers its own buffet of international cuisine with the Friday Jazz Brunch - as does the Marriott. On Saturday, lo-fi indie-pop group, Coke Machine, take the stage at Heliopolis' Balcon Lounge, while Basheer brings his unique Nubian sounds to CJC. Wikalet El Ghouri host a night of magical music and dance with the El Ghouri Dance Troupe, while DJ Mazen ends the weekend on a danceable note at After Eight. At Conrad Cairo Hotel's rooftop haunt, El Mojito, things are going to get hot and steamy at Salsa Night. In terms of art, Heliopolis' Gallery Nokio hosts Amr Wahib's latest exhibition Architectural Insights, while Zamalek's Art Corner hosts Wagih Yassa's exhibition, I Found a River. Elswehere, Beirut hosts Danh Vo's, Photographs of Joseph M. Carrier. For more live music, parties, exhibition and just plain more, check out the Cairo 360 events calendar.

Film

Trash: Underdog Story Set in the Slums of Rio

Trash: Underdog Story Set in the Slums of Rio

Based on a 2010 novel of the same name – written by the English young-adult fiction writer Andy Mulligan – Trash is best described as a feel-good story that carries a smimilar spirit to Oscar-winning drama, Slumdog Millionaire; similarly, it's a colorful and a slightly strained drama of adolescence and poverty. Set in Rio Di Janeiro, Brazil, Trash follows the story of Raphael Fernandez (Tevez), Gardo (Luis) and Rato (Weinstein); three fourteen year-old Brazilian boys who live in a lakeside favela and who earn their pennies by sorting trash at the nearby dumping ground. During one of their routine scavenger hunts, Raphael comes across an expensive looking wallet that, just as luck would have it, is full of cash.  While no one is looking, Raphael quickly pockets the cash. However, when crooked police officer, Federico (Mello), turns up desperately looking for the wallet, Raphael realises that there is more to his find than it meets the eye. As it happens, the wallet, which also contained a flip-book photo of a little girl with coded numbers on the back and a mysterious looking key, is directly linked to a wealthy and seemingly corrupt politician who is currently running for mayor. Realising that they are in way over their heads, the boys reach out to Father Julliard (Sheen) and aid-worker, Olivia (Mara), for help, all the while doing everything they possibly can to evade the hands of the corrupt police force who will do everything they can to get their hands on the wallet.  Trash, adapted to the screen by Richard Curtis, spends most of its running time in Portuguese and does a decent job in portraying the poverty hiding beneath the colourful streets of Rio; the chase scenes through the bustling streets and tight alleyways are particularly enjoyable. However, although pleasing to the eye, the material feels a little forced, a little too pretty around the edges and yes, a bit too Hollywood; if you were expecting more of a harsher look inside the life of favelas, perhaps you will need to revisit movies such as City of God or Elite Squad for a better insight.   Nonetheless, Trash does manage to keep things relatively upbeat and entertaining mainly because of the infectious energy and dynamism brought on by the three leads, who, despite their limited acting experience, hold the entire film together. 
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Win! Two-Night Stay at Conrad Cairo Hotel!
Win! Two-Night Stay at Conrad Cairo Hotel!