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Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide
Issue #108 My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide

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Portrait image of Fashion designer Mina Tahir and images of Cairo city Mina Tahir; Cairo © Daniel Adhami Thursday's Child; Salma Abu Deif x Vogue Arabia, Creative Direction by Mina Tahir; Cairo © Omar Elsharawy

My Hometown: Fashion Designer Mina Tahir’s Cairo Guide

Egyptian-Sudanese-American fashion designer Mina Tahir launched her Cairo-based eponymous fashion label in 2021. Her work is grounded in the intricate dynamic between the East and West; she constantly looks for new ways to infuse her design with the past, present and future of her country. Reworking traditional Eastern techniques into modern styles, she is often influenced by the likes of skate and hip-hop culture. She collaborates with local artisans to produce her clothes and has a zero-waste approach to design. 

Although she grew up between Cairo, New York, Paris and Seoul, Tahir always felt her birthplace of Egypt was home, and eventually moved back in summer 2020. “It was the best decision I’ve ever made, and I wouldn’t change it for the world,” she says. “There is an inexpressible amount of comfort and joy that I feel being in the presence of my people.”  

The young designer sits down with Pia Brynteson, Digital Editor of Service95, to talk through life as a creative in Cairo. She’s also curated a city guide to Cairo, with her recommendations of places to eat, drink and hang out with friends, along with other spots you shouldn’t miss… 

What are your strongest memories of Cairo growing up? My parents would always make sure that my sister and I spent every possible vacation we had in Egypt. A lot of my most precious and happiest core memories stem from those periods, travelling between Cairo and [El] Sahel (on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt). Enjoying everything Egypt has to offer with the company of my family is something that always kept me attached to my roots.  

As a child, we moved to a home with direct views of the Pyramids. I felt so incredibly lucky to get to look at that view any time of the day I wanted. Even now as an adult, there is something so breathtakingly eerie (in the best possible way) when you get to just be near such an incredible piece of history that really confirms for you the existence of humanity and its progression. While Egypt and Cairo have a very deep and rich history, it’s a place that is constantly evolving and transforming. It makes you feel like you grew up with the city, through all its tantrums and happy moments.  

What does an average working day look like as a designer in Cairo? There is nothing average when you live in Cairo! There’s always something going on and something to discover. Working in Cairo is a blessing and curse; you run into a lot of wonderful moments of innovation and inspiration, but I think it all stems from the fact that you must work with the system and the pace of life in Egypt. You have to go with the flow (and the heavy traffic) and make it work for you because nothing is ever linear in Cairo. Some days I’m just locked up inside my studio, draping and experimenting with different fabrics and cuts. On other days, I’m running around Cairo sourcing fabrics or trying to find a craftsperson who can help me execute what I’m working on.  

Collage by artist and designer Mina Tahir
© Mina Tahir

Where do you go to feel inspired? I seem to always find something that sparks an idea by just people watching or looking at the architecture of the city. And I tend to find the largest amount of inspiration when I go to Old Cairo.  

What makes Cairo special? So much! The history, the antiques, food, people… all of those aspects together is what makes Cairo, Cairo. There’s an air and energy to Cairo that’s like no other, it’s teaming with vibrant life and some of the kindest souls you will ever meet. Cairo and its people have persevered through so much in both ancient and modern times, yet they always have a light-hearted nature to them.    

What misconceptions about your city would you like to set straight? I think a lot of Westerners think there is nothing beyond Cairo outside of the Pyramids and the Sphinx, but Cairo has evolved into such a multi-faceted city that is way more advanced than what the Western media likes to paint. It’s a city where history and modernity coexist. A lot of people don’t know that Cairo has such a rich creative hub and community that is constantly evolving and pushing the boundaries of art, design and creativity.  

How does Cairo influence you, creatively? Cairo and Egypt have been – and will forever be – a constant muse in my work. I am deeply influenced and inspired by Cairo’s cultural fusion of the old and new and the country’s traditions. Egypt has such a rich narrative of history filled with colours, forms and values embedded in my designs. It’s not just a source of inspiration; it’s a fundamental part of my creative process. My brand Mina Tahir was founded on the premise of exploring the nuances and dynamic relationship between East and West through the exploration and intertwining of technology, craft, and time. It is a never ending-spectrum of the past, present, and future. Cairo is the embodiment of that and it’s visible in its streets and in its people.   

Mina Tahir’s Guide To Cairo… 

Images of places in Cairo; Founders and Klakit Art Space
Founders Spaces; Klakit Art Space

Where To Hang Out & Work In Cairo 

  1. FOUFA’S “My go-to spot when I want a change of scenery when I’m doing online work.” 
  1. Founders Spaces – Located in Downtown Cairo, the workspace offers a variety of options, from private offices to a grand lounge to cater to every type of worker. 
  1. Cairo Collective – “One of the first places that I discovered when I moved back to Cairo. They host a lot of creative events.”  
  1. KMT House – A perfect spot to work outdoors when the weather is just right. 
  1. Tree Trunk – Whether you visit the rooftop terrace or a cosy lounge, each floor offers a unique menu, with friendly service and excellent food. 
  1. Dark Solution Coffee Roasters – A cafe designed in a modern style, offering various coffee options, lunch items and delicious baked goods. 
  1. Klakit Art Space – In downtown Cairo, there are two cosy branches of a cafe and restaurant – one in Tahrir Square and the other in Kasr Al Nile. 
Exterior of cafe in Cairo, Genco
Genco Speciality

Places To Eat & Drink In Cairo 

  1. CAF At 5A By The Waterway – “The best matcha latte in all of Cairo, hands down.” 
  1. Carmel California – This California-based chain presents an extensive menu, spanning pizza to steak and fries. 
  1. Otto – Visit for a diverse selection of traditional Italian dishes alongside delightful breakfast options. 
  1. Kazoku – The restaurant’s signature dishes – such as black cod and glazed short ribs – offer an authentic yet contemporary Japanese culinary experience. 
  1. Maharaja – A culinary bridge from Indian cuisine to the Middle East. 
  1. Genco Speciality – In Southern Cairo, this pet-friendly cafe offers casual and cosy vibes alongside an array of sweet treats and great coffee. 
  1. Villa Caracas “Really good Lebanese food.” 
  1. Reif Kushiyaki – “My favourite spot to go with a group of friends, since the menu is sharing style.” 
  1. Izmir Saray – Authentic Turkish cuisine in a fine-dining restaurant setting. Try the metre-long kebap. 
  1. Eish + Malh – Enjoy jazz music alongside your meal at this charming Italian restaurant in Downtown Cairo. 
Outside Terrace of restaurant Khufu's overlooking the pyramids in Cairo
Khufu’s

Where To Find Traditional Food In Cairo  

  1. Khufu’sIf you’re already at the Pyramids, you might as well make the extra trek to the top to Khufu’s and enjoy a variety of Egyptian food with a spectacular view of the Pyramids.” 
  1. Zooba “With multiple locations, it’s a great spot to try traditional Egyptian-style street and breakfast foods.” 
  1. Koshary Abu Tarek – Serving traditional Egyptian street food, including koshari: a local favourite of pasta with hummus, burnt onions and tomato and chilli sauces.
  1. Andrea Mariouteya – For more than 40 years, Andrea’s has been a beloved, family-owned restaurant renowned for its grilled chicken oregano. It’s the go-to spot for Egyptian home cooking.
  1. Felfela Highly recommended local cuisine, from lamb skewer dishes to falafel and koshari, with live music and a bustling atmosphere. 
Outside terrace of the Marriott Mena House Hotel, Cairo
Marriott Mena House Hotel

Where To Stay In Cairo 

  1. Marriott Mena House Hotel – With the dream view of the pyramids, Marriott Mena House features gardens, a swimming pool, four restaurants and multiple lounges. 
  1. St. Regis Hotel A riverfront view couldn’t bring you closer to the Nile. There’s also the Iridium spa, outdoor pool and Jacuzzi, lavish library and even a butler service. 
  1. Four Seasons Hotel Immerse yourself in the beauty of the city by starting your day with breakfast overlooking the Nile. Alternatively, you can admire Farouk Hosny’s masterpieces and 200 other paintings in the hotel’s gallery – or relax in the wellbeing spa. 
  1. Sofitel Cairo Nile El Gezirah – A combination of Pharaonic, Arabian and French Art Deco design, Sofitel Cairo Nile El Gezirah is designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon and is located within walking distance of the cultural district and a variety of cafes and restaurants to choose from in Zamalek. 
Performance at the Makan Egyptian Center for Culture and Arts, Cairo
Makan Egyptian Center for Culture and Arts © Flemon

Art & Culture Spots To Visit In Cairo 

  1. Makan – Egyptian Center for Culture and Arts – “A hidden gem where you can watch a traditional zar ensemble by the last remaining zar performers. Zar is music that is inspired by three traditional musical styles practised in Egypt, rich in polyrhythmic drumming.” 
  1. The Grand Egyptian Museum This site boasts the world’s most significant archaeological museum complex, containing over 100,000 artefacts. It is set to open in spring 2024. 
  1. National Museum of Egyptian Civilization The museum showcases Egyptian heritage through cultural, artistic and scientific displays, featuring a Roman theatre, temporary exhibitions and events. 
  1. Darb 1718 Contemporary Art & Culture Center – “I used to take pottery classes here when I first moved to Egypt. Unfortunately, the main space got demolished but it was recently announced that it would be hosting workshops and film screenings in a smaller space that remains intact.” 
  1. Adam Henein Museum – Henein (1929-2000) was one of the most influential artists in the Arab world – a sculptor known for using local materials inspired by Ancient Egypt. Over 4,000 of his pieces areshowcased at the museum. 

Pia Brynteson is Digital Editor at Service95 

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