DOWNTOWN DIARY, 2016
Downtown Diary is a book that tells the stories of Downtown Cairo shops and establishments started by foreigners in the past and discusses how these places continue to survive today. It answers questions about Downtown’s past and present and changes in this bustling area's cultural diversity, with a focus on changes in the number of foreigners living in Cairo, their impact and the circumstances under which these changes took place.
The current owners and employees of these shops tell us their stories based on personal dialogues my mother and I had with them and photographs I took of them in context.
Downtown Diary is here to give you a bit of the experience of visiting those shops and hearing the stories for yourself. It is also here to give a glimpse into Downtown’s culture as a major part of Cairo’s culture and history as a whole. And most importantly, it is here to excite your interest to go down, take a cab (or an airplane!) and head over there for the full experience.
Downtown Diary was specifically designed for young readers in mind – the book's contemporary and playful look and feel was chosen to provide a new representation for a topic that is widely perceived by Egyptian youth as boring, an "old people" thing.
The topic was history.
Design, photography and writing by Yasmine Yusuf. Binding by Shahira Yahya.
Translated into Arabic by Mohamed Abdelgawad and Abdelfattah Yusuf.
Special thanks to my mother, Linda Forbes, for initiating this project with me and connecting me with Downtown Diary’s very first storytellers. And a thank you to my mentors, Philipp Paulsen and Jochen Braun.
Biggest thanks go to the people of Downtown, who let me into their stores and lives.