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Tips from the culture desk: A week for urban planning, books and a musical splash
The AUC Tahrir bookstore - Courtesy: AUC Press

It might be too late to join CILAS’s first FUNraising workshop, which looks brilliant but kicked off at 11am today, but you can still catch the last two days of the seventh Cairo Jazz Festival, which is taking place mainly in downtown (program and tickets here) for the first time, a much-needed step to revitilize the event. And there’s a good week of culture ahead for Cairenes: An iconic bookstore reopens with a friendly discount, a very promising international music event launches, and there’s a double whammy for the much-loved Cairobserver.

Cairobserver issue launch and exhibition opening – Sunday

Two urban planning events by Cairobserver founder Mohamed Elshahed in one night. Rawabet hosts the launch of the fifth print issue of Cairobserver, which, unexpectedly perhaps, revolves around the theme of universities. Writers from diverse backgrounds were invited to reflect on issues related to higher education in Egypt, architectural education, and university campuses within their neighbourhoods, among other education and space-related topics for the issue, co-edited with architect Shaimaa Ashour and distributed for free. The event includes a discussion by several contributors, such as artist and writer Ahmed Shawky, university professors Nabil El Hady and Abeer Rabei, and researcher Farida Makar.

At Townhouse, just next door, Elshahed curates a series of photographs by Anthony Hamboussi entitled SURPLUS! Housing from the Periphery. The series archives the mostly uninhabited large-scale residential buildings of Cairo’s suburbs.

The events are thematically dissimilar, but their close timing allows for an evening full of interesting conversations around urbanism, Cairo and the struggle for education in the capital.

The issue launch is on October 18 at 5.30 pm at Rawabet. The exhibition will open on the same night at 7 pm at Townhouse, 10 Nabrawy Street, off Champollion Street, Cairo, and runs through November 10.

AUC Tahrir Bookstore grand reopening – Monday

The Qasr al-Aini Street entrance of the American University in Cairo’s Tahrir Square bookstore reopens for the first time since it was closed during the revolution in 2011. The team says the 40-year-old store will contain many books not previously available in Egypt, and that customers will enjoy a special 20 percent discount on all books except textbooks until October 31.

The store, which is almost certainly the best place for English-language books in Egypt, has other branches in Maadi and AUC’s New Cairo campus. It has two floors’ worth of books for both children and adults, including many of its own impressive imprint and many academic publications, from archeology through business to learning Arabic. It also has some good maps.

At the corner of Sheikh Rihan and Qasr al-Aini Streets, open from 9 am to 4 pm daily except Fridays.

Maurice Louca and guests + London’s HELM – Thursday

Cairo’s celebrated composer of an amalgam of electronic, instrumental and shaabi sounds makes a big splashy return to Cairo following his three-week European tour. While Maurice Louca has performed live his latest album Benhaye al-Baghbaghan (Salute the Parrot) numerous times in a multitude of venues here, this particular performance will be unique: Louca is joined by Lebanese bassist Bashar Farran and Brooklyn-based drummer Tommaso Capellato, along with a selection of guest musicians from the album. And the performance will not only be sonic: artist Dia Hamed will add a visual component with an live-operated installation of technicolor home-wired light sculptures.

The night will also feature London-based experimental music producer HELM (Luke Younger), who produces sound art with compositions based on instrumentation and abstract sounds.

The two performances debut a series of exciting events dubbed Labyrinths, produced by Nawa Recordings in Cairo, Beirut and London along with 33:33 — the team behind London’s acclaimed St. John Sessions. Labyrinths are also produced in partnership with The Wire magazine, Boiler Room, pioneering Arabic music writing website Ma3azef and Vent.

8 pm on October 22 at Rawabet, 3 Hussein al-Meemaar Street, next to Townhouse. Entry is LE30.