Feeling at home in a foreign land

KUWAIT: Some of the dancers showcase their talents during an event called ‘A night on Almo’ez Street’.

KUWAIT: Some of the dancers showcase their talents during an event called ‘A night on Almo’ez Street’.

Homesickness can be a real problem for those who travel away from home for a long time. Most expats in Kuwait have felt homesick at some point in their lives. You might miss your family, friends, pets, house or neighborhood.

In Ramadan, many people feel nostalgic about the gatherings and traditions of their countries. But once the new surroundings and people become more familiar, this feeling of nostalgia goes away.

Ahmed Ghazi is a 27-year-old Egyptian who organized an Egyptian night from futour to suhoor called ‘A night on Almo’ez Street’, which is the best place to experience authentic Ramadan culture in Cairo. Kuwait Times spoke to Ghazi to know more about the event that gathered hundreds of strangers via Facebook to make them feel at home.

KT: Tell us more about yourself.
Ghazi: I was born in Riyadh. I now live in Kuwait with my family and friends. I work as an accountant, and also do a lot of art and graphic designing. I would someday pursue it more than a hobby. I’m generous, odd and kind of weird. I’m fairly clever too. I see art in things that aren’t necessarily artistic.

KT: How did you come up with this idea?
Ghazi: I was with one of my colleagues Ahmed Sadek, and we were planning a big gathering for our families, friends and relatives since Ramadan was approaching. We were missing home and the vibes of Ramadan in Egypt. That’s when we thought of making it a big Egyptian family gathering like what takes place on Almo’ez Street.

KT: Tell us more about Almo’ez Street?
Ghazi:  Almo’ez Street is one of the oldest streets in Cairo with the greatest architectural treasures in the Islamic world. This street has been turned into an open-air museum. From the north of Almo’ez Street to the south, there are lots of mosques and museums you can visit to discover real Islamic arts.

KT: Why did you choose to call the event ‘A night on Almo’ez Street’?
Ghazi: Actually, we had a couple of names in mind, but we decided to choose ‘A night on Almo’ez Street’ to connect with people as they are away from home. Almo’ez Street itself contains many historic buildings ranging from the era of Amr Ibn al Aas to the Tulunid, Fatimid, Ayyubid, Mamluk and Ottoman eras to the Mohammad Ali era. A United Nations study found it to have the greatest concentration of medieval architectural treasures in the Islamic world.

KT: How did you organize the event?
Ghazi:  My friend Ahmed and I, with some of our friends, organized the event. Everyone was excited about the event. We are really thankful to our families, friends and especially to the people who attended the event. They made this day beyond fabulous and unforgettable.

KT: Are you going to do more cultural and community events?
Ghazi:  Yes, if I get the chance and the support.

KT: Why do you think people were excited about it?
Ghazi:  We organized many things related to Egyptian culture, from folklore dancing and food to the designs and the programs. We even had the mesaharati, the man who walks the streets just before dawn in Ramadan with a drum, chanting traditional songs to draw people out of their slumber for suhour, the final meal before the fast of the day begins. We tried our best to replicate the Almo’ez Street culture here and show people how Ramadan in Egypt looks likes.

KT: How was the event?
Ghazi:  Honestly, it was beyond words. We are very pleased by the feedback. Many asked us to do this again in Ramadan or on the second day of Eid.

KT: Did you satisfy the people? Or there was something missing you wanted to add?
Ghazi:  We can never satisfy everyone. But we tried our best to make them live the Ramadan vibes as they should be. There were some things missing and we will add them next time.

KT: How many people turned up?
Ghazi: Around 100 to 130 people – we also had people from other nationalities like Lebanese and Syrians who attended the event.

KT: Do you often use social media to meet people from your country or to share activities?
Ghazi:  Yes, online communication is important for everyone. Also, positive interaction with the people that have the same mutual ideas can really lead to great contributions. Social media allows us to interact freely and quickly.

By Faten Omar

This article was published on 30/06/2016