A Pub Crawl in Ottoman Cairo

OUP have just published Joseph Ben Prestel’s book¬†Emotional Cities,¬†which compares Berlin and Cairo 1860-1910. In it, there is a chapter that details Egyptian worries about the corrupting power of the new Ezbekiyya district, with its bars, music halls and theatres. People worried that all this entertainment was leading people astray and seriously affecting the rationality…

An Egyptian in Ireland in 1920: Liberation and Censorship

1919-20 was a eventful time in Ireland’s ongoing independence struggle. For a young Egyptian called Ibrahim Rashad, whose own country was also fighting for independence from the British, it was an amazing time to be there. His memories are collected in a curious book, which he privately published with the help of the poet Susan…

1930s Egypt and the War on Drugs

A few years ago I remember looking through the Egyptian Drug Smuggling files in the British National archives. They were full of zany schemes to get drugs across the border and dubious kingpins. One of the most memorable plan was the attempt to smuggle walnuts full of Hashish from Istanbul, just because it seemed such…