24 November, 2019

CNN’s Cairo POV explores the influence of the Egyptian capital in art and culture

CNN International has launched a new travel series that seeks to uncover the captivating stories of the residents of Cairo and the hidden treasures that exist away from the Egyptian capital’s iconic monuments.

As a city famed for its historical significance and rich culture, Cairo is home to 19 million people and has been a source of fascination for travelers for centuries: it also remains one of the world’s most visited cities.

But away from attractions such as the Pyramids of Giza, the Egyptian Museum and Al-Azhar Mosque, there are a number of sites that are playing an influential role in shaping the city’s identity as it continues to evolve in the modern era.

In Cairo POV, the programme travels to the city to speak to leading figures from the worlds of film, music, art and architecture to understand what makes Cairo so unique as a city.

From filmmaker Amr Salama to Okhtein founders Mounaz Abdelraouf and Aya Abdelraouf, a number of inspirational individuals tell CNN how they attempt to translate the culture of Cairo into their work.

Aya Abdelraouf, joint founder of Okhtein, a luxury leatherwear brand that aims to draw international attention to the inherent refinement of Egyptian artisanship, said: “Most people abroad or internationally think of Egypt as the Pyramids or the Pharaohs. And we really wanted to step out of this cliché - so we started looking for inspiration elsewhere. When we did that, we learned a lot about leather, we learned a lot about brass, and this really inspired us and pushed us to, just take this culture and heritage and somehow redefine it into a carriable piece of art.”

Aya’s sister and business partner, Mounaz Abdelraouf, commented: “My relationship with Cairo is more like any kind of relationship you have with a friend, with a lover, with anything there are times when you're so frustrated with the traffic or sometimes you're just in love with the country itself, with the scenery, with the Nile. So, you have the peaceful times and you have the hectic times.”

In addition to speaking with the hugely successful local designers, CNN International also interviewed filmmaker Amr Salama who shared how she is constantly inspired by the Egyptian capital. Salama said: “Cairo is a very dramatic city. There's drama everywhere. Beautiful drama, intense drama, sad drama, happy drama. I believe it's a goldmine for any writer to live here. In the last 10 years, I guess, it's a nourishing environment for filmmaking. It's more dynamic, it’s one of the best times to be a filmmaker in Egypt.”

The program also seeks to explore Cairo through the eyes of a film star, who now calls the city home. Hend Sabry, an actress and lawyer who is originally from Tunisia said: “I call Cairo a daily adventure. It is such an unpredictable city with such warm and great energy. The unpredictability speaks to me as an actress. When I visited Cairo for the first time, it’s true I fell in love in every sense.”

Watch Cairo POV now on CNN Travel

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