On Alexandria's Fouad Street, some have a longing for the elegant past

Tue Mar 22, 2016 1:51pm EDT
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By Asmaa Waguih

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (Reuters) - Along Fouad Street, a Costa coffee shop near old buildings with Italian and French architecture reminds Egyptians that commercial ventures threaten to erase traces of Alexandria's aristocratic past.

Named after King Fouad I, who died in 1936, the street is a throwback to a time when the arts flourished in a cosmopolitan city that is now overcrowded and dilapidated like many of Egypt's urban centers.

Some, like architect and urban planning teacher Ahmed Hassan, are pushing to preserve some relics of the bygone era while keeping pace with growing businesses - the goal of his "Save Alex" initiative, launched in 2012.

"We aim to try to find a balance between civil society and profit-driven private sector to protect the heritage buildings from getting demolished,” Hassan told Reuters.

"We want a system where all stake holders agree on a system to keep the heritage."

In the past, the city founded by Alexander the Great and once considered the jewel of the Mediterranean, featured a fusion of communities - Greek, Italians, Armenians, Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Fouad Street is the most potent symbol of Alexandria's grand history, with its elegant villas and antique shops.

A Reuters photo essay captures some of Fouad Street's past glory at reut.rs/21Faim7 .   Continued...

Alexandria's opera house stands in Fouad street, Egypt, January 26, 2016.  REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih