Just like the Nile, Cairo is ancient. Cairo is a city that refuses to be defined. Ramses II and Napoleon Bonaparte have marched through it; but the city lived and they did not. Kings, Presidents, Sultans, Caliphates, Crusades, sandstorms, and floods of Biblical proportions; Cairo has seen it all yet it is still home to over 20 million people. The city is so synonymous with Egypt that when Egyptians say ‘Egypt’ they really mean Cairo. Cairo is not defined by its past nor its future. It is not defined by those who left it or those who still call it home. Instead Cairo defines all of them.
Cairo is not a city to me; it is a breathing living entity with a beating heart. That is the only way to justify why millions of people deal with the pollution, the incessant traffic jams, and decrepit infrastructure and still call the city home. Why else would a city in constant need of restoration attract all the brightest minds and artists in the region? Cairo is the Hollywood of Arab cinema, the New York of African finance, the headquarters of the Arab League, and where Rome has the Vatican for Catholics Cairo has Al-Azhar for Muslims. At the mouth of the Nile away from the ceaseless noise of the city, you see why artists like legendary Druze singer Farid al-Atrash came to Cairo. In the middle of the unforgiving desert the Nile meets the dirt and there is life. That is what Cairo is: life against all odds. Life is frustrating, life is impatient but life goes on; and so does Cairo.