The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt


El Attaba: Bustling Cairo Area Full of Marketplaces

El Attaba: Bustling Cairo Area Full of Marketplaces
written by
Yousef Hany

Right in the centre of Cairo is El Attaba,
the biggest market in the capital; it’s like a city within a city, our own
Egyptian Chinatown! Offering everything from paper decorations to upholstery
fabrics, El Attaba is a very
busy and crowded area, and it’s always advisable to go there during the week
and to avoid weekends and public holidays as it might take the whole day to
find what you are looking for.

How To Get There: El Attaba is in the exact centre of the capital and you can reach the
area via the metro (get out at Attaba Station) or via car, where you can park in the huge six-level
Opera garage. The garage is named after the original Opera House, which was located nearby
before it famously burned down in the last century.

As a
massive market area, El Attaba
contains everything you could possibly need with sales people, stalls and kiosks are scattered everywhere. You will find that El Attaba
is divided into many main areas according to the type of products sold. Simply
ask for directions to one of the many locations listed below, and soon you’ll
become familiar with this maze of a bustling neighbourhood.

El Barabra
is a very narrow alley full of shops
selling all kinds of reasonably priced chandeliers and light fixtures in modern
or classic designs. You must bargain as much as you can; sellers always
give a higher price quote because they expect you to haggle. Also, be sure to
avoid buying from the first shop that you see, as you can find the same products or
even better ones at lower prices when you go further into the alley. Darb
El Barabra contains shops specialised in products for baby showers and
weddings, including sweets, toys, light decorations, papier-mâché figures,
balloons, candles and gift cards at wholesale prices.

Sour El Azbakia hosts the biggest book market in Cairo
with over 130 book shops selling and buying all kinds of used books. The market
place was once called the University of the Poor, as it contains valuable and
rare books at very low prices.

Al Mouski is one of the markets in El Attaba where you can find all kinds
of fabrics and textiles for your home furniture. Just like its rival, Wekalet
El Balah, prices differ according to quality and you can opt for seriously
cheap fabric if you want to have your furniture upholstered on a budget.

Abdel Aziz Street is the most renowned destination for electronic devices, mobile phones as well as mobile phones
accessories. As the street is considered to be the main supplier to all electronics
retailers in Cairo, prices are cheaper here and there’s a wider variety of
products; but bear in mind the freight and handling costs while choosing your
product, because if you have to have it shipped home, you may end up paying the
same prices as you would at your basic electronics shop. Also, be advised
against buying a second-hand mobile phone here, as some items on sale are
likely to have been stolen or are faulty.

El Manasra hosts specialists in
wooden furniture, whether it’s for your bedroom, kitchen or dining
room; you can find everything there at extremely low prices compared to many furniture shops in Cairo. However, it’s preferable to bring along someone who understands
the various types of wood and can judge the craft; as some of the items there are
of poor quality.

Hamam El Talat is usually filled with women looking
for household items; this is the destination of choice for many brides-to-be
who come to furnish their homes with cheap household products, kitchen cutlery
and utensils, as well as bathroom products.

El Rewaie is a part of El Attaba that specialises in carpentry and plumping tools, as
well as kitchen and bathroom accessories.

The Alley of Watches is a very small alley filled with shops
selling and fixing all kinds of watches, including rare, vintage and
collectible watches.

So if you’re on a budget and have a
huge shopping list of items to buy for your house or house party, we recommend
heading to El Attaba for all the essentials.