15 Mar The Rich History of Shubra
The Rich History of Shubra
Hesham Elakaad shares his travel experience to the beautiful region of Shubra in Cairo, Egypt.
Shubra is one of the largest districts of Cairo, Egypt and is administratively divided into three areas: Shubra, Road El Farag, and Elsahel. In the past, Shubra was a much smaller and aristocratic area. Today, it is home to millions of Egyptians belonging to middle and lower class families. About 40% of the Shubra population is Coptic Christian and many come from Upper and Lower Egypt to live there.
Egyptian history books paint a picturesque story of the Fatimid times, when the river Nile ran along the Emad Eddine Street to Ramsis Square where a ship called Elephant, sank nearby and, during the wreckage, a small island was formed and called the Elephant Island. The name was later changed to Badran Island, after a religious sheikh that resided there. Now, the street carries the same name, Geziret Badran, and is situated right in the middle of Shubra. There is no longer an island in Shubra, as it is a hugely populated area a few miles away from the river which, over time, has shifted away from the district.
In the 17th century, Mohamed Ali, the ruler who modernized Egypt, built himself a palace in Shubra and extended Shubra Street all the way to his palace in 1808. It was recorded that the street had fig and date trees on either side and a large mill employing a large number of locals was established nearby, known to the locals as Al Mabyada, for its production of white linen.
It is estimated that the population of Shubra ranges between four to five million, which means it contains more than
a quarter of all the population of Cairo. In the recent past, Shubra was also home to many non-Egyptians who came to love the place. This is reflected in foreign street names that are unique to Shubra. Names such as Kitcheners, Chicolani, Kholosy, Victoria and Yalbugha are still landmarks of Shubra. In Shubra, all creeds, religions, races and colors mix in a truly human and tolerant fashion, one that is known to be unique to the place.
Shubra is by far the most liberal minded of Egyptian society. It produced many talented people in arts and politics including the late French singer Dalida and the Egyptian singer Muharam Fouad. Politicians from Shubra include former Prime Ministers Kamal Ganzoury and Ali Lutfy, and the head of the Peoples Assembly, Rifaat Al Mahgoub. Poet Ibrahim Nagi and the writer and cartoonist Ahmed Bahgat are also from Shubra. Many Egyptian movie stars come from Shubra, including Nabila Obeid, Madiha Usry, laila Faouzy, Shukry Sarhan and Mahmoud El Mleigy.