From fashion to proverbs: AUC graduation projects illuminate Egypt’s intangible heritage – Heritage special – Heritage


Seeing highly technical graphic design projects based on and nourished by heritage topics was quite an enchanting experience. The two-story exhibition had many inspiring projects that reflected the awareness of the young generations of the importance of mental health, environment, and reconnecting with their own heritage.

The legends of Keretlia House, an app for Khayamia shopping, a book that traces the origins of controversial proverbs, and many more were on display.


Fashion in Egypt, 1919-1952

Among the projects on display was a project that traces the relationship between socio-political events and women’s fashion in Egypt from 1919-1952. The project is a big book connected to a projector and whenever you flip a page of the printed book, you get to experience a layer of information projected in orange.

“I tried tracing the relationship between socio-political events in Egypt and women’s fashion 1899 to 1952. I focused on magazines such as Al-Mosawar Masr Al-Haditha, Bent El-Nil, Akher Saa, and El-Kawakeb,” explained Hagar El Attar, the designer of the project, to Ahram Online.

“Then I took the visual and connected them with what events that happened in Egypt back then. And whenever you flip through the book, you would see printed layer social political events and the orange which is projected,” she added.

Three legends and a puzzle 

Habiba Abu Seif’s project depicted one of Egypt’s underrated landmarks. Beit Al-Keritleya, or House of the Cretan Woman, also known today as the Gayer Anderson House and Museum, an architectural gem in the heart of Islamic Cairo. Built in 1631, the house is said to have 14 legends associated with it. The social history of the house was compiled and published in a book by Gayer Anderson, a British army officer who bought the house and turned it into a museum.

“My original idea was to create a concept that helps educate children about cultural heritage history but in an interactive and interesting way,” said Abu Seif.

He did this by choosing three of the 14 legends, making a box for each one containing illustrations, paper for colouring, a puzzle and a booklet describing the story of the house and a scannable code that provides an audio description, he explained. 

Proverbs and human rights 

Mohsen Afiff’s project is a book that he designed and created to trace back the origins of some popular yet negative proverbs in Egypt. The book is titled “Poison in the Proverb” as a variation on the popular saying (“poison in honey”). 

“I picked over 300 proverbs that had either a demeaning view of women, dark-skinned people, people with disabilities or some religions. I address the negative impact of such discriminatory proverbs and its contradictions with human rights as well as traces back the origins and situations that made such proverbs,” he told Ahram Online.

Khayamiya online app

Alia Ibrahim created an app for virtual exploration and shopping tour of one of Egypt’s oldest crafts and marketplaces. Souq Al-Khayamiya is the market of tent makers that was first established in 1650 in Islamic Cairo.

“Khayamiya is a very important craft and I thought that the best way to help is to create an online platform where people would get to virtually explore each Khayamiya shop, its details, and prices of Khayamiya artwork,” Alia Ibrahim explained.

The app also includes a timeline of the souq’s history, a tutorial video from renowned Khayamiya artist Salah Abdel Hamid, and short video interviews with other masters of the craft, she added.

The story of 14 statues 

Rola Amr chose to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage of downtown Cairo. In her graduation project, she designed an application that documents the social history of the 14 statues in the public squares of downtown Cairo and the artists that made them. Her application also features an audio-guided tour.

Memoires of a neighbourhood 

Farah Abdel Salam documented the social history of her childhood neighbourhood in Mohandeseen, by following the life of Am Gamal, the traditional doorman (bawab) of her residential building.

“I have been living in Mohandeseen all my life when I was little, then I moved to a gated compound which is missing a lot, especially the parallelism that exists, and I wanted to represent it in a very emotional visual way to make the people understand how it is like to live in an apartment in Mohandeseen,” she noted.

The scent of the city 

Nancy Kamal skillfully depicts the scents of various districts in downtown Cairo through an audio-visual medium.

The exhibition “Under CTRL” at Sharjah Gallery, AUC premises, is open to the public from May 11-30.


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