Africano Gallery: Accessories & Gifts from India, Thailand & More at Zamalek Shop
Cairo has its faults, but there are few capital cities in the regions that are as eclectic and unpredictable – the good kind of predictable, of course. Well, most of the time. It’s something that has carried over to the city’s shopping scene; these days, across local and international retailers, you can find almost everything and anything in Egypt’s capital – in fact, everything and anything describes Africano Gallery fairly aptly.
Located on Zamalek’s El Gezirah El Wosta Street, the shop is rather hidden, located at the top of a set of side-stairs in its building. Once you see it, though, it hits you; Africano Gallery sports a big front window displaying what look like African, Indian and classic-style antiquities. The interior is simple, with its range of products spread out over its two-floor space, the first of which primarily houses accessories and gifts for men and women.
The first thing that stood out was a table in the corner with a colourful display of handmade Indian beaded necklaces for 110LE each – and yes, they were actually made in India. Same goes for the Indian bracelets which go for 85LE – which is staggering when you consider that the same brand and model of bracelet for up to 350LE at a certain Zamalek shop on Ismail Mohamed Street.
Men aren’t as lucky with the shop’s collection, however; some of the stock including metallic chains (15LE) and others made of a kind of faux-ivory (10LE). These things in particular look as cheap as they are and stood out like a sore-thumb amongst the other more tasteful accessories in the shop.
The second floor is considerably grander, holding the more antiquated pieces as well as home accessories. Some of the items that caught our eye include decorative Indian pieces that look something akin to a cross between a dreamcatcher and an oversized pendant which shows a scene of a chain of elephants (65LE). Some Thai-made wooden wind chimes, in several sizes, also tickled our fancy, with the smallest selling for 125LE. Also on the list of must-checkout items at Africano Gallery are the shop’s lamps, the best of which are made either of wood or copper; of the latter material, a Thai lamp in the form of a carved elephant head stood out (275LE) for its intricacy and detail, as well as its natural wooden finish. The copper ones, meanwhile, take on a more classic in appearance, with one of the standout ones including a pair shaped like classic torches (350LE for the pair).
As much as we were impressed and initially struck by the quirkiness of Africano Gallery, we can’t help the fact that the worst stuck in our heads more than the best did and that you’d find much of the shop’s stock in other similar stores. Despite this, there were a few outstanding pieces.