Colors of Cairo: Inside the City’s Red Brick Jungle

When you’re on a highway in Cairo, chances are you’ll be driving past residential areas that make the road seem to look like it’s carved in the heart of the neighborhood. What we call Al Ashwaa’yat are unplanned brick living areas made to accommodate the highest number of people with the lowest price possible. Most homes have trouble getting access to proper amenities due to the lack of legal permits and subsequent services that would depend on them. This doesn’t mean residents lack access to water and electricity, it just means they are not protected by laws and insurance when it comes to property rights and ownership.

Because the constructors of what later become Ashwaa’yat cut corners when it comes to costs, the exterior of  most buildings are left unfinished with those distinct red brick walls. To many, this is an unsightly view given that it is coupled with the sea of satellite dishes on the roofs of most of these buildings. But recently, a photographer chronicled what hides behind the red jungle.

Photographer Danny Arafa captured several one-of-a-kind pictures of a building in the Ashwaa’yat being demolished, and his images broke the stereotypical image of the dust ridden red buildings. On his Instagram page, he highlighted the colorful interiors of the slums behind the muted walls in his surprisingly bright pictures.

In the homes of many behind the rough exterior lies soul. And that soul presents itself in color. Life isn’t desolate between these bricks, and though the color-show was revealed through the demolition of homes, we hope that this soul remains alive.

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