Little boxes in the desert

March 2, 2009 / Background Briefing looks at the new suburbanism in Egypt.

[Beverly Hills, greater Cairo area]
The Cairo burbclaves, photography by Andrew Turner

Background Briefing is always good, but last month’s episode “Cairo, A Divided City” is un-turndownable. It’s about the movement of Cairo’s nouveau riche—including, but not limited to, the IT nerds—out of the city and into gated communities, many of them modelled on famous American burbclaves, and all marketed as various forms of the “ultimate living experience.” Hear the Egyptian Nancy Botwin tell you why it’s both good and bad to drive 25 kilometres for an espresso. Not exactly sustainable living, but let he whose adopted country is without Las Vegas be the one to cast the first stone.

Reporter Hagar Cohen constructs a compelling story, and Andrew Turner provides bright, expressive, poignant photography—which comes with its own eight-minute audio track built from the interviews conducted by Cohen. Cool double feature. If you haven’t listened to BB before, let this be your way in.

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