suggests following articles

Several of my articles on Garden City were plagiarized word for word by novelist MEKKAWI SAID (winner of the Egyptian State price for literature!!!!) and re-published under his own name in a three-part series in El-Masry El-Youm daily in September 2015.

Cheers to our "talented" literature prize awardee. Your pain his gain !!!


Maadi Grand Mall

Samir Raafat
Cairo Times, February 19, 1998

I'm old enough to remember when the two-block long commercial section of Maadi's Road 9 was the preserve of Greeks. They ran the sleepy suburb's commercial outlets consisting of a grocery, a bakery, a pharmacy, a stationery and a ladies hairdressing salon. The enterprising Gomaa brothers who hailed from the nearby grubby Tora al-Balad were spurned by their Hellenic peers as the new kids on the block. It would take a world war and several geopolitical upheavals before they became Maadi's primo retailers. Socialism helped too. Despite import bans, the energetic brothers retailed fancy bootlegged labels so that shoppers came from as far as Zamalek for a can of French paté or slice of Highland salmon. By then the Mitsos and the Dimitris were a fading memory.

With Sadat's infitah (1970s Open Door policy) Road 9 filled out to its outer limits. Starting with Wimpy, food chain outlets kept multiplying until one day McDonald's became the town's main point of reference. As Maadi spawned new districts, commercial strips and random novelty shops mushroomed haphazardly everywhere. Yet no matter how dazzling the boutiques and how big the supermarkets, it was evident that sooner or later the American concept of one-stop shopping would come to Maadi. Consumerism had invaded Egypt.

No surprise then when six years ago TV viewers were promised the coming of MGM (Maadi Grand Mall). If one believes infocommercials, the several million dollar project was touted as the largest and most advanced shopping center in the Middle East. It was going to compress the equivalent of hundreds of stores into a multilevel, weather-controlled edifice sporting elegant arcades and fancy restaurants. Much to the delight of Maadiites, the TV spot pledged easy parking. No more wrestling cars through a congested Road 9. MGM would siphon shoppers from the entire region and vie on its own terms with the older and now threatened retail districts.

To the strains of piped music, splashing waterfalls and clanging cash registers, the five-level MGM (Maadi Grand Mall) opened two years later. Despite it being only half occupied, hordes of first-week visitors came from everywhere to check out the ultimate shopping nirvana. Cash in hand, Baba and Mama, were ready to squander their savings on leather, piercing jewelry, corsetry, videos and houseware. Here was a place where you could eat, walk, and shop till you drop. Emulating their parents, wide-eyed kiddies saw the mall as a large indoor recreation complex. They wanted to jump up and down escalators - still a novelty in Egypt, parade in front of the security videophone and explore the scaled down Toys-R-Us facsimiles. The first generation of 'mall rats' had arrived.

Equally eager to experience MGM were the pining Maadi shabab. Aside from the Members-Only Sporting Club, Road 9 and the seedy riverside Felfela eatery, Maadi's youth had nowhere to flirt and giggle and do what mid-teens like to do most. Instead of wandering the streets they could now crowd the mall's video arcades, its cinema, its billiard parlors or its records shop. Aroused males could fantasize at windows displaying women's lingerie or nip into the cyber cafe and for a couple of teners get virtual release.

For some of the young and not-so-fortunate the mall is a one-stop shoplifters paradise. But to the dwindling numbers of old Maadiites, all they saw was an ugly enviroment unfriendly behemoth rising from what several decades ago was the second hole of Maadi Sporting Club's desert golf course. Criticism of the project became more vocal. Rather than reorganizing the urban community by insulating the shopping center from the town by large empty space and green parks, MGM's developer erected their concrete pile right in the middle of the narrow pass linking New and Old Maadi so that fender-bending frustrations and Road 9's chaos was simply replicated in yet another section of Maadi.

And why were the dominant big stores absent. Lacking any two rival department stores facing each other across the mall, MGM was simply an asylum for medium sized specialty stores and cloned boutiques. How then can its developers claim this was the biggest mall in the Middle East inspired by shopping centers in the Far East. Surely they must have gotten off prematurely at Dacca, Bangladesh. It lacked the immaculateness of the Nile Hilton esplanade and the professionalism and chic of the World Trade Center. MGM was a poor relation!

Others asked if MGM was meant only for the car-owning elite or was it a coincidence that it wasn't served by any form of public transport. As for the handicapped, stay away! MGM caters to the able-bodied only. No ramps in site anywhere and elevators can mean a long wait. On the other hand, the hard of hearing are spared the insensitivity of some shopowners who blare Cairo's Top Forties from their tiny corner boutiques. The devout will appreciate that Gulf touch when Friday prayers resounding throughout the atrium so that even MGM's remotest shopper will revise his or hers conscience.

Like some timers you can argue that MGM stands for 'Maadi's Greatest Mistake'. Others are hoping that with the arrival of satellite TV and internet, the future of home shopping will modify our shopping patterns. But since this won't happen today or tomorrow, it's time we made do with concrete realities. MGM is one of them.


- The Maadi Grand Mall is located in Digla, next to the Satellite Relay Station (ex-Marconi ).
- Project's chief architect is Ahmed Azmy (former prof. at Ein Chams Univeristy) presently resident in the USA.
- Mall developer and promoter is the Bitter Lakes for Habitation & Development Co.
- Mall Contractor is the Bitter Lakes for Contracting.
- Chairman of Bitter Lakes group of companies is Nabil Azmy (brother of architect) an accountant who was previously Deputy Chairman of Osman Ahmed Osman Co.; Suez Canal Bank and CEO of Suez Insurance(?) Co.
- MGM is the only mall developed by Bitter Lakes group. Other projects include two military airports and the erection of 10 resident/commercial buildings in Cairo and Alexandria (none of which are pretty to look at).
- Hamdi al-Gabry (of Nazlet al-Seman) is the only Bitter Lakes board member living in Maadi.
- Project's top eight investors represent 90% of capital. All are of the Azmy family.
- The mall has 300 units most of which have been sold to private individuals.
- Garage has a 200 car capacity.

articles posted on were published in the following books by Samir W Raafat: THE EGYPTIAN BOURSE, Zeitouna, Cairo -- CAIRO THE GLORY YEARS, Harpocrates, Alexandria -- HISTORY & SOCIETY IN A CAIRO SUBURB; MAADI 1904-1962, Palm Press, Cairo -- PRIVILEGED FOR THREE CENTURIES, printed digitally and bound by Elias Printing, Egypt

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