Cairo – The Victorious

Egypt (‘Masr’), is a large country which links Africa and the middle east, with a population of approx 95 million people and whose capital is Cairo – the victorious. Officially known as the Arab Republic of Egypt. It is the 16th most populous country in the world.


Egypt borders Sudan, Libya and Occupied Palestine (mainly under illegal Israeli rule). It is bound by the Red and Mediterranean Seas, with the River Nile irrigating its valleys and vast deserts. The official language is Arabic (over 90% of the population), with a minority speaking African (Amharic and Tigrigna) and some European languages.


Main Cities

The country’s main cities are:

  • Cairo, the capital and main commercial hub
  • Alexandria, popular Mediterranean resort
  • Giza
  • Aswan, popular tourist attraction
  • Luxor, popular archaeological attraction, access to the ‘valley of the kings’
  • Port Said, cosmopolitan city, third largest
  • Hurghada, popular resort town next to the Red Sea
  • Sharm el-Sheikh, popular resort town on the Sinai peninsula, renowned for scuba diving
  • Suez Canal, an important maritime transport in the middle east connecting the Red Sea and Mediterranean Sea



Egypt is a founding member of UN, NAM, OIC and the African Union, and a major regional power in the region. Egypt is divided into 27 governates, which are further sub-divided into towns and villages. Its economy is based mainly on agriculture, media, petroleum imports, natural gas and tourism.


Cairo, the capital city of Egypt is a popular, historical and dynamic location for people to explore, study and visit. Full of ingenuity, variety and diversity. It is a mixture of old, traditional architecture, monuments and buildings, intertwined with modern residential and commercial landscapes.


Cairo (‘al-Qahirah’ means ‘the Victorious’) is the world renowned capital city of Egypt, located in the African continent, and is known as the ‘city of a thousand minarets’.


It is the 15th largest city in the world and a centre of political and cultural life. It is the HQ for the Arab League with a population of nearly 16 million people. The city is 75 miles from the Gulf of Suez.


Egypt is a Muslim majority country (approx 90%) with a significant Coptic Christian minority (8-10%).


The currency is the Egyptian Pound.


Historical Background

The Muslim conquest of Egypt, led by Amr ibn As, arrived and settled in 640 CE at al-Fustat, north of Babylon, during the time of Hazrat Umar (RA) Caliphate. Subsequently, the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties ruled until eventually the Fatimids came at the time of General Jawhar al-Siqilli.


Modern Cairo was founded by the Fatimid dynasty in 969 CE during the time of the Fatimid Caliph Al-Muizz and is near the delta Nile, and is founded on the ruins of the historical city remains.


During the Fatimid reign the construction of al-Azhar mosque as a centre of learning was started.


Cairo became the official capital around 1168 CE.


In 1169 Salahuddin was appointed the new Vizier and then the Sultan.


Cairo has flourished as a centre of learning for Islamic scholarship and a centre of trade for the civilisations in Afro-Eurasia.


Ibn Batuta also travelled and visited Cairo during his extensive travels and explorations.


Egypt became part of the Ottoman empire in 1517 during the reign of Sultan Selim I, with Cairo becoming the second largest city within the Ottoman state.


Eventually, Egypt was occupied by the British in the late 19th and 20th centuries, leading to independence in 1952 after local popular uprisings.


Important Places

The city is home to :

  • The famous Giza Pyramid
  • The Al-Azhar University
  • The no 1 economy in the middle east
  • Modern developments around the river Nile (Garden City, Downtown Cairo and Zamalek)
  • Global embassies
  • Boulaq industrial district
  • The Citadel
  • Extensive Islamic architecture
  • As Salaam International Hospital-Corniche El Nile
  • Maadi private hospital
  • Ain Shams University Hospital
  • Dar El Fouad Hospital
  • Kasr El Aini Hospital
  • Al Azhar University
  • Cairo University
  • American University in Cairo
  • Ain Shams University
  • Arab Academy for Science & Technology and Maritime Transport
  • Helwan University
  • Sadat Academy for Management Sciences
  • Higher Technological Institute
  • Modern Academy In Maadi
  • Misr International University
  • Misr University for Science and Technology
  • Modern Sciences and Arts University
  • Université Française d’Égypte
  • German University in Cairo
  • Arab Open University
  • Canadian International College
  • British University in Egypt
  • Ahram Canadian University
  • Nile University
  • Future University in Egypt
  • Cairo International Airport
  • Ramses Railway Station
  • Cairo Tram
  • Transportation Authority CTA
  • Cairo Taxi/Yellow Cab
  • Metro
  • Nile Ferry
  • International Stadium (Naser Stadium)
  • Cairo Opera House
  • International Film Festival
  • Cairo Geniza
  • Tahrir  Square
  • Egyptian Museum
  • Cairo Tower
  • Old Cairo
  • Amr ibn al-As mosque




Famous Landmarks and Monuments


Giza Pyramids

Found on the outskirts of Cairo and represent some of the largest structures ever built.

The pyramid of Khufu at Giza is the largest and is known as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Most of the pyramids were built as tombs upon death for the country’s pharoahs in the ancient times. The earliest known Egyptian pyramids are found at Saqqara near Memphis, such as the Pyramid of Djoser (constructed 2630 BC – 2611BC).

Approx 118 pyramids have been identified in Egypt.


Cairo Tower

Provides an overview of Cairo and is a free standing tower with a height of 614 feet and a revolving restaurant. It is higher than the Great Pyramid of Giza.


Egyptian Museum

The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities contains an extensive selection, over 136 000 items on display including the tomb of Tutankhamun.


Tahrir Square

Founded during the 19th century with the establishment of downtown Cairo. Originally named Ismailia Square but was renamed Tahrir Square after the Egyptian revolution in 1952, when the country became independent from the British occupation.

The square is surrounded by the Egyptian Museum, Arab League HQ, Ritz Carlton Hotel, Mogamma governmental administrative building and the American University.



A sprawling area on the western district, composed of a Zoo and the pyramids which overlook the river Nile.


Old Cairo

This contains the original site of Fustat, the ancient Roman fortress of Babylon, and a large concentration of Christian Churches and buildings. It also houses the first mosque of Egypt, the Amr ibn al-As mosque founded in 642 CE.


Islamic Architecture

There are hundreds of mosques, tombs, madrasas and other buildings dating back from the Golden era of Islam, especially around the old walled city, known popularly as ‘Islamic Cairo’. Examples include :

  • Al-Hussein Mosque
  • Mausoleum of Al-Shafi’i
  • Tomb of Sayyida Ruqayya
  • Mosque of Sayyida Nafisa
  • Mosque of Ibn Tulun from the Abbasid era built in 876-879CE
  • The Nilometer on Rhoda Island built in 862 CE (which measure the level of the Nile, important for administrative and agricultural purposes)
  • Mosque of Al-Azhar founded in 970 CE
  • Mosque of al-Hakim
  • Al-Aqmar Mosque
  • Juyushi Mosque
  • Lulua Mosque
  • Mosque of Salih Tala’i
  • Mosque-Madrasa of Sultan Hasan
  • Mosque of Amir al-Maridani
  • The Mosque of Sultan al-Mu’ayyad (whose twin minarets were built above the gate of Bab Zuwayla)
  • The Sultan Al-Ghuri complex, the funerary complex of Sultan Qaytbay in the Northern Cemetery
  • The trio of monuments in the Bayn al-Qasrayn area comprising the complex of Sultan al-Mansur Qalawun, the Madrasa of al-Nasir Muhammad, and the Madrasa of Sultan Barquq
  • Wikala al-Ghuri (historical caravanserais to house merchants and goods for trade and commerce purposes)
  • Khan al-Khalili, a commercial hub




Overview Infrastructure


Citadel of Cairo

This is a fortified enclosure, started by Salahuddin in 1176 CE as part of a large defensive system on the Muqattam hills. This is where the rulers resided and was the centre of government administration until 1874, when Khedive Ismail relocated to Abdin Palace.

Nowadays, it is a tourist attraction which includes the national military museum, 14th century mosque of al-Nasir Muhammad and the 19th Century Mosque of Muhammad Ali.


Khan El-Khalili

This is an ancient bazaar, dating back to 1385, adjacent to the Al-Hussein mosque. This is a major commercial hub and popular tourist attraction.


Climate in Cairo

It has two seasons – four months of winter and eight months of summer.

Along Cairo’s river Nile the climate is a hot desert climate, with frequent wind storms and dry air. Rainfall is sparse, usually in winter only. The summer has high humidity.

Cairo has a high levels of vehicle, industrial and sewage emissions which cause air, land and water pollution.



The country has an advanced medical care which is continually striving to improve the quality of life. Citizens average lifespan is 71 to 75 years for males and females respectively.


Economy in Cairo

11% of Egypt’s population reside in Cairo, which accounts for 22% of its economy. The capital is the hub of its economic activities and urban development. Many automobile manufacturers are based in the city, such as Ghabbour Group, MCV Corporate Group, Seoudi Group, Speranza and General Motors).

Much of the economy is based around commerce, trade, industrial production and government. The manufacturing base includes development in textiles, food processing, sugar cane, iron and steel.



Cairo has a large hub of education establishments, learning institutes and services.

The history of education provision has varied between elitist secular education versus mass state education, and large periods of autocratic rule has not helped the situation either. The result is that adult illiteracy rates vary from figures upto 26%.



The country is governed by a Presidential system, with a popular assembly (al-majlis al-Shabi), governors and some elected / selected representatives. However, for the past four decades at least it has been ruled by the General and the military. After the autocratic rule of Hosni Mubarak, elections were held and President Morsi of the Freedom Party was unanimously elected in 2012. The new President held a public referendum to update the constitution, which obtained 64% public support. However, the military led by General Sisi with support of Western governments, undertook a military coup and dissolved the elected government. He arrested all members of the Freedom Party and Muslim Brotherhood, with mass detentions, hangings and military convictions, and instilled autocratic military rule. To legitimise himself, General Sisi held staged elections and re-installed a secular constitution.



Cairo has an extensive road network, rail system, trams, ring roads, bridges, airport and taxis.



Football is the most popular sport, as well as squash and rugby.


Famous People

  • Muhammad Husayn Haykal (1888 – 1956) was an Egyptian writer, journalist, politician and Minister of Education in Egypt
  • Yasser Arafat, founder of PLO
  • Mohamed ElBaradei (born 1942), former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency
  • Gaafar Nimeiry (1930–2009), President of the Sudan
  • Ahmed Sabri (1889–1955) painter
  • Naguib Sawiris (born 1954), 62nd richest person on earth in 2007 list of billionaires, reaching US$10.0 billion with his company Orascom Telecom Holding
  • Sir Magdi Yacoub (born 1935), British-Egyptian cardiothoracic surgeon



Dr Ghulam S Ashraf is a Content Writer for

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