Monday, 4 November 2013

Preserving the Heritage of Cosmopolitan Alexandria

The Hotel Cecil under construction along the Corniche in 1929.
The other day I received an email from an Alexandrian called Zahraa Awad who tells me of her interest in the heritage of cosmopolitan Alexandria and her efforts to promote and preserve it.  With her permission I quote from what she wrote me.
I'd like to introduce myself. I am Zahraa, Alexandrian tour guide. I am the 8th generation for Alexandrian family. My roots Turkish, Greek, Jewish Moroccan, Sudanese and Egyptian of course.  I have read your books about Alexandria and you inspired me since 2005 to start my walking tour around Alexandria.  I started Lawrence Durrell's tour since 2008 inspired from your books. E. M. Forster tour and Cavafis tour. I called my tour Alexandria Belle Ã‰poque's Heritage (Nostalgia).
I tried to explain how Alexandria was during 19th and 20th century. I tried to guide my tourist group around and it was working very well till 2011. But I found to solve the problem and preserve our heritage we must educate the Egyptians themselves or we will lose the rest of our heritage ... So I have started a Facebook page to introduce the city by posting old photos and tell the story in English and Arabic for all Alexandrians around the world, those who left Alexandria after Nasser time and those who are living here but they didn't know anything about the city and how it was look like, especially those immigrants who moved from the countryside.
I am trying to save our heritage and I am asking your support. 
Please click here for Zahra's Facebook page on Alexandria where you will find many fascinating photographs of the city in its heyday, including the one at the top of this post, which I have never seen before, showing the Hotel Cecil under construction along the Corniche in 1929. 

I have now exchanged a few emails with Zahraa and have found that she is a mine of up to date information.  To help her efforts along, I will devote some future posts to various issues she has raised. Meanwhile all power to Zahraa's enthusiasm and my wishes for her success. As she rightly says, 'to preserve our heritage we must educate the Egyptians themselves'.

To read more posts on Alexandria, please click here.