Jihad Abaza

 

/ Strolling through Egypt's Little Syria with Leena

Strolling through Egypt's Little Syria with Leena

In this project I take a stroll through little Syria with the 15-year-old Leena. Since 2011, Syrians who have come to Egypt have changed the social fabric of the suburban neighborhood of 6th of October. Many were already part of the middle and upper middle classes in Syria, and with a few savings in hand; they came to Egypt with business plans. As the suburban 6th of October City grew in Egypt, Syrian shops and restaurants came to constitute a fundamental part of the city’s urban make up.

Given that 2013 was tough on many Syrians due to the state’ crackdown on refugees (among other people), hundreds have since left the country. This exodus came in the context of toughening residency procedures and governmental to decisions to not allow Syrians into Egypt without a visa, which became almost impossible to obtain.

Nonetheless, some people still prefer Egypt over other countries. Leena’s family, who lives in 6th of October city’s “Syrian neighborhood,” is one example. Her father owns a sweets shop in the Syrian street, and a café nearby. Her mother says she is comfortable living so close to the heart of the city, and has made many friends that she can always visit. She does add, however that while her family is here “officially” and their paperwork in order until now, not everyone is so lucky.

Over the past years, what is known as the “Syrian neighborhood” in Giza’s 6th of October city has been growing in size and popularity. One particular street is filled with Syrian restaurants, hair salons, sweet shops, cafés, and super markets. On the week
The 15-year-old Leena, lives in one of the buildings overlooking the “Syrian street.” Originally from Damascus, she has been living here for the past four years and has made many friends, both Syrian and Egyptian, and has gotten accustomed to the atmosphe
The Syrian street is busy with visitors in the evening.
Photos of Leena’s family members, including her grandparents, who are still in Syrian and whom she has not seen in years, are displayed on her desk in her room. Leena is not interested in going back to Syria, because she says everything there has changed,
Leena started going to a Syrian school this year, but says that she’s still adapting to the new classes. The school is also in 6th of October City.
The restaurant “Rosto” lies on both corners of the street. It is one of the most popular Syrian food places in the city, and has been expanding at a fast pace. It now has several branches.
A bag of Zaatar is displayed in a Syrian supermarket in Leena’s home street. The bag reads, “Egyptian industry with Syrian hands.
Gyath looks through the sweets displayed in the glass adorning his father's shop in the "Syrian street."
Leena, a classmate with the same name, and her brother Mohamed, wait with Gyath and Leena for their parents to pick them up after school.
Gyath, Leena’s little brother, plays football with his friends after school.
Leena washes her hands in her father's cafe after school.
Leena’s mother prays at home. She too says she has gotten accustomed to life in Egypt, and is happy with where her family lives. It is a bit more expensive that other places in 6th of October city, but everything is easily accessible, and her husband who
Um Gayath spends her days having coffee with her neighbors and friends.
Leena, her friend Doaa, and Gyath spend time together in the café. The 21-year-old Doaa works in the café, administrating it. Doaa, who is Egyptian, is one of Leena’s best friends.
The view of the street from the balcony of Leena’s home on the fifth floor.
Leena gets ready to go out to meet Doaa.
Gyath looks down at the Syrian street, where he spends a lot of time at his father’s sweet shop and playing with his neighbors.
A note of “thanks” to Egypt is one of the first things one sees upon walking into the Syrian street. The note reads, “On behalf of the Syrian delegation in the Arab Republic of Egypt, we offer thanks to Egypt the mother of the world… land, people, and gov