Let’s not lie; for those who have never entered El Tawheed & El Nour, there has always been a lingering curiosity as to what fills up all the floors of this department store. Of the two branches located on Haram’s Faisal Street, the one closer to the Cairo-Alexandria desert road is quite something. Stocking everything from clothing to electrical equipment, this five-storey monstrosity seems to represent Egypt’s answer to the recently arrived Marks & Spencer.

On the ground floor, you’ll find the pay point and the collection point. It’s not a simple buy-it-and-bag-it operation. After choosing your item, you have to pay at one point and wait for a man to shuffle down the stairs with your item to deliver it to another point. This is tedious at the best of times, and when the store is busy the procedure is frustrating to the nth degree.

Patience does pay off, though; the range of products at El Tawheed & El Nour is remarkable. The store is perfect for reasonably priced basics for your home. For example, the most expensive small Fresh electric fan on a stand will cost no more than 300LE, while the price of Fresh refrigerators fall close to either side of 2500LE.

You can find rugs and carpets at a wide range for up to 400LE depending on the size. You don’t need to be an expert to realise that the general quality of these rugs isn’t the best; you could exfoliate your feet on some of them. Design-wise, they are almost all floral, dim and muted. No good Egyptian housewife can call a house her home without a tea set (up to 80LE) for a visit from the in-laws.

The shop, however, falls down on the range of its clothes. Again, the selection is vast across men’s, women’s and children’s wear, but the prices do not in any way equate with the quality. Selections of distinctively average looking men’s and women’s flip-flops are made to seem above average by their prices. At a range of between 10LE and 20LE, you might fancy grabbing yourself a pair for the house.

Guys can get all sorts of formal shirts for between 50LE to 150LE, a polyester-blend tie for under 10LE, or any variety of cotton-blend polo shirt for between 15LE to 50LE. Ladies have much to look forward to in the way of galabeyas and lingerie. For 110LE, you can buy the best galabeya in the shop, or two scandalous negligees.

You can find literally anything at El Tawheed Wel Nour except for food. Even then, there’s a lady outside who does the best roasted corn. Yes, the shop has a dubious reputation, and it might not be everyone’s first choice, but it can definitely be everyone’s backup for anything.