March 8, 2012

0140 EGYPT (Cairo) - The spinal cord of Cairo

Egypt isn't only past but also present and future, and Cairo (Al-Qāhira, literally "The Vanquisher" or "The Conqueror") is the best example in this regard. Founded in the year 969 AD by the Fatimids near the Nile delta, Cairo is now the largest city in the Arab world and in Africa (7,009,765 inhabitants), and resides at the centre of the eleventh-largest urban area in the world (17,550,000 inhabitants). 

Between 1882 (British invasion) and 1937 (15 years after obtaining the independence), the population of Cairo more than tripled – from 347,000 to 1,300,000 – and its area increased from 10 km2 to 163 km2 (today is 453 km2 ). The city was devastated during the 1952's fire (Black Saturday), when were destroyed nearly 700 shops, movie theatres, casinos and hotels in Downtown Cairo. Seeking to accommodate the increasing population, President Gamal Abdel Nasser redeveloped Midan Tahrir and the Nile Corniche, and improved the city's network of bridges and highways. Meanwhile, additional controls of the Nile fostered development within the island of Gezira and along the city's waterfront. Population of Cairo continued to grow, doubling since the 1960s. 

In nowadays, Cairo, like many other mega-cities, reflect dense concentrations of population along with the proliferation of vehicular traffic and insufficient roads to handle them. One of the structures that attempt to solve this problem is the 6th October Bridge (in the picture), an elevated highway in central Cairo, with a length of about 20 km, completed in 1996, with construction taking nearly 30 years. With a name which commemorates the date of the highly successful Egyptian crossing of the Bar-Lev Line in the Yom Kippur War (1973), the highway runs from the Agricultural Museum in Dokki east to the Autostrade in Nasr City, crossing the Nile River twice from the west bank suburbs, east through Gezira Island to Downtown Cairo, and on to connect the city to the Cairo International Airport to the east. During the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the bridge has been a major route to the Tahrir Square demonstrations, and also itself been the scene of violent confrontations.

The picture, taken from the Cairo Tower, shows Gezira Island in foreground, the Nile River, and Downtown Cairo in background. To the right of the bridge, on the nearest shore of Nile, can seen the Mosque on the island of Zamalek, and on the other shore, the three highest buildings are (from left to right): Ministry of Foreign Affairs (143m/1994), Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) and Ramses Hilton (110m/1980).

The stamp is one of the two that forming the 50th Anniversary of Cairo Tower set, issued on April 11, 2011. This one have the value E£ 2.5, and the other one E£ 0.3.

sender: Azzam Adil (direct swap)
sent from Cairo (Egypt), on 16.01.2012
foto: M. El-Bayoumy

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