Cairo(redirected from Al-Qahirah)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.
Cairo, city, Egypt
Points of Interest
Much of Cairo is modern, with wide streets. Its famed mosques, palaces, and city gates are found mostly in the older sections. The mosques of Amur (7th cent.), Ibn Tulun (876–79), Hasan (c.1356), and Qait Bay (1475) are especially noted for their bold design. Khedive Ismail's palace on Zamalik island is a notable 19th-century structure. The Mosque of Al Azhar (970) and adjoining buildings house Al Azhar Univ., considered the world's leading center of Qur'anic studies. Cairo also is the center of Coptic Christianity.
The city is the seat of the American Univ. in Cairo, Cairo Polytechnic Institute, the Higher Institute of Finance and Commerce, the College of Fine Arts, and the Higher Institute of Theatrical Arts. The Univ. of Cairo is nearby, in Giza. Among Cairo's many museums, the Egyptian National Museum is especially noted for its holdings of ancient Egyptian art. The museum is on Tahrir (Liberation) Square, which was the site in 2011 of massive demonstrations against President Mubarak. The Nilometer, a graduated column dating from 716 and used to measure the river's water level, is on Roda island, where tradition says the infant Moses was found in the bulrushes.
Almost directly across the Nile from Cairo was Memphis, an ancient Egyptian capital. Babylon, a Roman fortress city, occupied what is now a SE section called Old Cairo. Cairo itself was founded in 969 by the Fatimid general Jauhar Al Rumi to replace nearby Al Qatai (established in the 9th cent. by an Abbasid governor of Egypt) as the capital of Egypt. In the 12th cent. Saladin ended Fatimid rule and established the Ayyubite dynasty (1171–1250). To defend the city against Crusaders, Saladin erected (c.1179) the citadel, which still stands, and extended the walls of the city, parts of which remain. Cairo prospered under the rule of the Mamluks, who added many buildings of artistic merit, but the city declined after it was conquered (1517) by the Ottoman Empire.
At the time of its capture (1798) by Napoleon Bonaparte's forces, the city had about 250,000 inhabitants. British and Turkish forces ousted the French in 1801, and Cairo was returned to Ottoman control. Under Muhammad Ali (ruled 1805–49), it became the capital of a virtually independent country and grew in commercial importance; many Europeans settled in the city. During World War II, Cairo was the Allied headquarters and supply center for the Middle East and the site (1943) of the Cairo Conference. The Arab League is headquartered in Cairo. In the late 20th cent. the city has been plagued by poverty and overcrowding, which has forced many Cairenes to settle in the City of the Dead, a vast expanse of cemeteries to the S and E; the area is not administered or serviced by the city.
See M. Rodenbeck, Cairo: The City Victorious (1998); N. Alsayyad, Cairo: Histories of a City (2011); D. Sims, Understanding Cairo (2011).
Cairo, city, United States
capital of the Arab Republic of Egypt (ARE). The most important political, economic and cultural center of the country. It is situated to the south of the Nile Delta, primarily on the right bank of the Nile and on the islands of Zamalik (Gezira) and Roda. It has a tropical climate. The average temperature in January is 12°C and in July, 27°C. Annual precipitation totals approximately 34 mm. During April and May there is a hot dry wind called the khamsin. Cairo has airports, is a major junction of international communications and is the center of highway, railway, and river transport in the ARE. It is the largest city in Africa, with more than 5 million inhabitants (1970, estimate; 678, 000 in 1907; 1.1 million in 1927; 2.1 million in 1947; 3.3 million in 1960). It accounts for about 15 percent of the ARE’s population and about 34 percent of its urban population.
Administration. In administrative and territorial respects, Cairo is equivalent to a governorate (muhafaza). The city administration is headed by a governor appointed by the president of the ARE and by the People’s Council (59 members) made up of members of the municipal committee of the Arab Socialist Union (ASU) and of representatives from the district organizations of the ASU and from women’s and youth organizations. There is also the Executive Committee appointed by the prime minister from among representatives of the ministries of education, finance, internal affairs, health, and others. Branch agencies of the municipal administration (departments) handle diverse economic, social, and cultural problems, maintain law and order, see to civil defense, and so on.
History. Cairo was founded in 969 by the Fatimid military leader Jawhar (Goher) al-Sakali in the vicinity where the fortress of Babylon stood in antiquity, approximately 30 km from the ancient Egyptian city of Memphis. Jawhar called the city Misr al-Qahira, which means “Egypt the Victorious”; hence, the Arabic name of Cairo, al-Qahira. Gradually Cairo absorbed other fortress-cities built earlier in the same region by the Arabs, including Fustat, which under the Umayyads was the administrative center of Egypt, and Katai, built at the end of the ninth century under the Tulunids. From 973 to 1171, Cairo was the capital of the caliphate of the Fatimids. Under the Ayyubids (1171-1250) and the Mamelukes (1250-1517), it was a major commercial and artisan center. In 1517 it was seized by the Ottoman Turks, who plundered and destroyed the city. During the Egyptian Expedition of 1798-1801, Cairo was occupied by French troops. The population of the city repeatedly rose in rebellion against the French occupiers (1798, 1800). In 1795 and again in 1804-05, there were rebellions against the Mamelukes and Turks. In the 19th century, particularly in the first half, new sections and enterprises were built, the first Egyptian printing plant was established, and educational institutions were founded. In 1882, Cairo was occupied by British troops. From 1914 to 1922, it was the administrative center of a British protectorate. After 1922 it was the capital of the Kingdom of Egypt.
Cairo was the most important center of the anti-imperialist, national liberation movement in Egypt. There were uprisings in 1919 and 1921; major anti-British demonstrations and actions took place in the 1930’s, in 1946, in 1951 and early 1952, and at other times. On July 23, 1952, a coup d’etat took place in Cairo, which marked the beginning of the revolution of national liberation in Egypt. From 1953 to 1958, Cairo was the capital of the Republic of Egypt and from 1958 to 1971, the capital of the United Arab Republic; since 1971 it has been the capital of the Arab Republic of Egypt. Since 1971, Cairo has also been the capital of the Federation of Arab Republics. Cairo is also the site of the headquarters of the League of Arab States (since 1945) and the residence of the permanent secretariat of the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization (AAPSO, 1957).
N. G. KALININ
Economy. About one-quarter of the industrial production of the country is concentrated in Cairo and its suburbs. There are machine-building, metalworking, textile, chemical, food-processing (including oil presses), tobacco, cement, and printing enterprises. Plants for the production of railroad cars and for the assembly of trucks, tractors, and television and radio equipment were built after the revolution of 1952. The socialist countries play a significant role in the creation of industrial enterprises. With Soviet help the following plants were built in the 1960’s: a forging plant, the first stages of a machine-tool building plant and a coking plant in the Cairo suburb of Helwan, and plants for the production of files, emery boards, and sandpaper. The Helwan Steel Plant has been expanding since 1968. With the help of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, bicycle and ceramics plants have been built. A cigarette factory was built with the help of the German Democratic Republic. Crafts industries have been considerably developed. There is a thermal power plant whose capacity is 643, 000 kW (1967). In addition, Cairo is a major financial and commercial center.
Architecture and city planning Cairo may be clearly divided into two parts, the old and the new. The old city, which occupies the eastern and southern districts, has numerous narrow streets and two- to four-story pise and stone houses. It contains architectural monuments from the fourth century B.C. to the 19th century A.D. Among the buildings from Roman times (late first century B.C. to fourth century a.d.) is the tower in the fortress of Babylon by the architect Apollodorus. Among the Byzantine structures (fourth to seventh centuries) are the Coptic Church of St. Sergius and Bacchus, the Church of Our Lady, and the Church of St. Barbara, all in the fortress of Babylon.
The early Arab monuments that have survived include the Amir ibn-al-As Mosque (641-642, rebuilt in the ninth century) in Fustat, the ibn Tulun Mosque (876-879), and the Nilometer (715) on the island of Roda. Monuments preserved from the Fatimid period include the remains of the stone city walls and gates (11th century); the mosques of al-Azhar (970-972, repeatedly rebuilt), al-Hakim (990-1013), al-Juyushi (1085), al-Akmar (1125), and al-Salih Talai (1160); the mausoleums of Sab’a Banat (“The Seven Daughters,” 11th century) in Fustat and Umm Kulthum (1122); and residential houses from the tenth and 11th centuries discovered during excavations in Fustat. A number of large structures from the time of the Ayyubid and Mameluke dynasties have survived. These include the citadel of Salah-al-Din (Saladin; 1176-83); the mausoleum, mosque, and hospital complex of Sultan Kala’un (1284-85); the mosque-madrasah of Sultan Hasan (1356-63); the mosque-madrasah of Sultan Bar-kuk (1384-86; architect, Shihab al-Din); the mausoleum and mosque of Sultan Qait Bey (1472-74); the mausoleums of Imam al-Shafi (1211), Sanjar al-Jawli (1303-1304), and the Mamelukes (15th century and early 16th century); and the al-Muayyad Mosque (1415-20). Among the buildings preserved from the period of the Ottoman Empire are the mosques of Sinan Pasha (1571) and Muhammad Ali (1830-48; architect, Yusuf Buhna) and houses from the 16th to 18th century.
The new city occupies the western and northwestern districts and also includes Heliopolis to the northeast, where quarters dating from the start of the 20th century are located on the site of the ancient Egyptian city. New Cairo has straight wide avenues, large squares, boulevards, and gardens. The streets are lined with multistory buildings constructed during the second half of the 19th century and the 20th century: government offices, the University of Cairo, the television center, the Egyptian Museum, banks, restaurants, and hotels. In accordance with the general plan of 1955, work is proceeding on the reconstruction and urban renewal of Cairo, in particular, of the embankments of the Nile. Egypt Awakening, a marble monument executed by the sculptor Mahmud Mukhtar between 1919 and 1928, was erected in Cairo. The city is the center of crafts industries that produce articles of leather, metal, wood, and other materials.
Educational, scientific, and cultural institutions. Located in Cairo are an Academy, the Institute of Egypt, the University of Cairo, the universities of Ayn Shams and al-Azhar, and other institutions of higher learning and scientific research. The city has ten museums, including the Egyptian Museum, the Coptic Museum, the Museum of Islamic Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Geological Museum. The largest of its libraries is the National Library, with about 1 million holdings.
Cairo has theaters and theatrical troupes, including al-Gum-huriyya, al-Uzbekiyya, the Theater of July 26, the National Theater (both musical and drama troupes), the World Theater, the Masrah al-Gayb Theater, the Tawfiq al-Hakim Theater, the Comedy Theater, the Opera Theater (being rebuilt after a fire), and the Puppet Theater.
REFERENCESKhodzhash, S. Kair. Moscow, 1967.
Aldridge, J. Kair. Moscow, 1970. (Translated from English).
Abd al-Rahman Zaki. Al Qahira, vols. 1-2. Cairo, 1935.
Clerget, M. Le Caire, vols. 1-2. Cairo, 1937.
Schemeil, M. Le Caire…. Cairo, 1949.