When a British photographer moved to Cairo last year, he had no idea what was about to unfold before his eyes. In this photo essay, shot entirely on his iPhone, Steve Double captures a city before and after it made political history. Text by
Cairo is a difficult place. The biggest Arab or African city and one of the biggest mostly Muslim metropolises, it is furiously crowded, grubby and noisy. It is venerable as the home to the sole survivor among the seven wonders of the ancient world. But the pyramids of Giza are often smog-bound today. Their stark triangles no longer perch romantically at the edge of undulating Saharan wastes, but sit instead in a sandpit, rimmed by the highways and apartment blocks of Cairo’s ever-expanding western suburbs. As the nightly Sound and Light show at their feet proclaims, the Sphinx bears witness to 48 centuries of time. But history’s latest efflorescence happens to be a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet whose own impassive sentinel, Colonel Sanders, gazes back at the Sphinx from a hundred yards away.
Pictured: “In a city that must be one of the most polluted in the world,” Steve Double says, “a clear sky is a rare thing and a clear sky with clouds even rarer. So, on the odd occasion that you can see the sunset in more than an orange haze of exhaust fumes, it’s a wonderful moment.” The image of the sun’s rays fanning out across the heavens has a particular relevance here: “It is thought to have inspired the architects of the pyramids”