The Tuk-tuk Nurse/Midwife in Egypt

Despite the problematic aspects of this video—especially its developmentalist discourse that is couched in a dichotomy that values modernity, Western-dominated biomedicine, and the epistemic authority of medical practitioners over ‘tradition’ in health systems and in the lifestyles and purported ‘ignorance’ of the patients—I find the unspoken-of overlapping and reversing of structures and processes interesting. The tuk-tuk, or rickshaw, a public means of transportation, becomes a makeshift ambulance bringing the nurse, rather than patients, to the houses and homes of patients, which in turn become a makeshift examination room. Similar processes occur in Egypt, wherein doctors, nurses, and pharmacists use their off-clinic hours (or in-pharmacy work hours) for medical counseling through house visitations. This blurs the strict, ideological spatial classification that attempts to amputate the public from the private, and the medical from the social and historical.

Cairo, the City, from Designers’ Perspectives

Iconic City: Cairo Now! City Incomplete is a project curated by Mohamed Elshahed, founder and editor of Cairobserver, as part of the 2016 Dubai Design Week. According to the project’s description, the project is a first of its kind in its attempt to assemble under a single roof Cairo’s current design landscape, which ranges from graphic and typeface design to architecture as well as product and furniture design. Cairo lacks a marketplace or an infrastructure that could provide the much needed support to creative industries. Yet its young designers, according to the project,

turn the city’s trash into new products and revive fading traditions with a contemporary edge. Cairo’s designers today take the city as their muse and as the source of their creativity.

The theme of the project is incompletion and its resulting potentialities:

The title takes its inspiration from the infamous visual impression of Cairo’s red brick housing stock in varying stages of completion. The aesthetics of incompletion permeate Cairo’s design culture in content and form. Incompleteness is a reflection of the city’s status quo: continuous expansion into the desert with partly realized satellite cities, speculative urbanism where buildings are never fully completed to avoid taxation, and the tendency to leave a bit of extra concrete sticking out of buildings’ roofs in hopes of adding additional floors in the future. This visuality of incompletion is also a sign of unrealized potential, possibilities waiting to be materialized. The city’s designers reflect on this condition in their creations.

The movie is directed by the Cairo-based cinematographer, Ahmed Tahoun.

Historical Images of the Suez Canal

The Suez Canal, Port Said, in 1897. Publisher: Underwood & Underwood. Source: “The Underwood & Underwood Egypt Stereoviews” collection, Rare Books and Special Collections Library at the American University in Cairo.
The Suez Canal, Port Said, Egypt. The Suez Canal was inaugurated in November 1869, after 10 years of construction. Source: AUC Rare Books and Special Collections Library.
The Suez Canal, Port Said, Egypt. The Canal connects the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. Source: AUC Rare Books and Special Collections Library.
The Suez Canal, Port Said, Egypt. Source: AUC Rare Books and Special Collections Library.
The Suez Canal Company’s office in the harbor of Port Said. 1919. Source: TM-60056606, The Tropenmuseum.
The Battleship HMS ‘Iron Duke’ in the harbor of Port Said, anchored in front of the Suez Canal Company office. May 15, 1921. Source: TM-60021740, The Tropenmuseum.
Map of the Suez Canal, surrounded by medallions containing faces and portraits of Egyptian ‘people types.’ Dated 1900-1930. Source: TM-60055588, The Tropenmuseum.
The mouth of the Suez Canal at Port Said. circa 1870. Source: TM-60002266, The Tropenmuseum.
Activity on the quay of Port Said, at the mouth of the Suez Canal, by C. & G. Zangaki. Dated 1870-1900. Source: TM-60019805, The Tropenmuseum.
The Grand Hotel of the Netherlands at the port/quay of Port Said. Dated 1870-1900. Source: TM-60044594, The Tropenmuseum.