Cairo redevelopment plan calls time on Egypt's oldest watch shop

Loss of heritage buildings and inadequate compensation spark outrage as bulldozers raze area associated with Arab spring

After 111 years of tinkering and fixing, Essam Ahmed can’t bring himself to acknowledge the demise of what may well be the oldest watch shop in Egypt. He shows off an alarm clock his father fixed for the last monarch, King Farouk, and a ledger with neat handwriting that meticulously records the names of every customer who has come into the shop, including prominent Egyptian personalities from the 20th century such as feminist activist Hoda Al Shaarawi and actor Naguib Al Rihani.

“This place is still alive for us,” he says. “It’s my home and it is being taken away from us by brute force.”

They are killing us slowly. A slow torturous death to squeeze us out of the area

Safety of people comes first. And to be honest, I don’t see any form of architectural heritage in these buildings

The government is using informal settlements as a quick way to make some cash by exploiting the rent gap

Related: Norman Foster's Cairo redevelopment has locals asking: where do we fit in?

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