The Otherworldly Beauty of Cairo in Black and White
Through the eyes of a young Bahraini photographer
Sarah Ben Romdane
Bahraini photographer Mashael Alsaie’s headed to Cairo during the Eid break earlier this year and shot her latest photo series in the Egyptian capital. Long gone are the technicolour golden tones often seen in depictions of the historical capital, shot entirely in black and white, the series reveals an otherworldly, urban side of Cairo. “The city has a pulse that is incomparable to any other”, says the 23-year-old photographer.
Alsaie picked up her first film camera in 2016 during a trip to Amman, “I haven’t been able to put it down since”, she says before emphasising that she views her photographic work as a series of “visual essays” that explore topics like self-identity and womanhood.
Overcome with the excitement and thrill of visiting Cairo for the first time, Alsaie wanted to immortalise the capital’s rich history, unbeatable energy and mystical ambiance in her latest series.
During her visit to the Egyptian capital, Alsaie was fortunate enough to visit the city during the World Cup, a momentous occasion when all of Cairo came together to fervently support their national team, and more importantly, its local superstar Mohamed Salah. “The excitement was intoxicating”, she recalls excitedly.
“One day, we went to the Townhouse Gallery, but it was meant to be closed”, she says before adding, “but we were lucky, three art collectors had been visiting the space that afternoon, so all of the galleries pieces were sprawled out on the floor of this beautiful warehouse space. We ended up chatting up one of the collectors, living between Beirut and Nigeria, who spoke to us about his love of Cairo”. Countless people who have visited Cairo have spoken of an indescribable energy that seemingly permeates throughout the city – Alsaie’s photos subtly manage to capture that very dichotomy between melancholia and non-stop energy that makes Cairo what it is today.