Al Ismaelia Al-Ismaelia

Cairo’s Downtown Slow Revival Amid Efforts to Restore Architectural Heritage

14 September 2020


The collapse of an old building in Downtown Cairo has shed light on the state of historic buildings in the area, while heritage preservation is the focus of various projects.

The main public efforts until today have focused on uplifting Downtown Cairo’s outer image of buildings and streets. These have included the design of some pedestrian streets, lighting and circulation control. At the same time, the facades of some buildings have been restored, and various offices and stores have returned to the area. In recent months, the government has also been particularly active with the controversial development of the iconic Tahrir Square, which is part of a broader modernization plan of Downtown Cairo.

“Restoration is very important and it should not be [just] about beautifying, about putting makeup, to cover ugliness. It should be restored to last longer and remain in good condition,” Hawas said. “What we are asking now is to go inside [of these buildings],” she added.

One of the main players in the industry is Al-Ismaelia for Real Estate Investment, a private investment company established in 2008. The company owns 25 buildings, which it started to maintain and develop, Karim Shafei, its co-founder, chairman and CEO, told Al-Monitor.

According to Shafei, the main achievements of Al-Ismaelia since its foundation include much-needed maintenance of the buildings, new rents that can be imposed by buying entire buildings and the consolidation of ownership of the buildings they purchased in the hands of a single owner. “I bought buildings from 120 heirs at some stage,” he said.

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