It has been 15 years since the RehabiMed project (financed by the European Union) finished the rehabilitation work of the Wekala El-Magraby, built in the 18th century in the Gamalia neighbourhood of Islamic Cairo, under Ottoman influence. Originally, a wekala is a building built around a courtyard intended to house merchants and store their goods, on the ground floor, with the upper floor being used as a residence.
When considering the rehabilitation project of Wekala El-Magraby, we encountered several uses: shops facing Khan Abo Takiya street, small workshops of traditional and industrial crafts around the courtyard, and the first floor is intended for residential use . These were people with very few resources, who did not pay rent, and who worked in very precarious conditions. The objective of RehabiMed was to consolidate the building, which was in a very poor condition, and to improve the working conditions of the artisans and other users, while preserving the heritage values of the building typology of the area and some decorative elements of value, and without expelling them during the works.
This August 2023, we had the opportunity to visit the rehabilitated wekala to verify its state of conservation, the activities that continue to take place there and to learn the opinion of its inhabitants, shopkeepers and artisans. The first thing we could observe was that despite the recent turbulent years in Egypt, the neighbourhood has not changed at all, neither in terms of people nor in buildings, and that a large neighbouring wekala is being rehabilitated by the state, surely as a trade centre for handicrafts.
It has been a great satisfaction to see that the rehabilitation work carried out has behaved quite well and the users of the building are mostly the same. In conversations with the users, they have expressed their satisfaction 15 years later, as only a few problems have arisen on the roof, due to the heavy rains, but they have already been resolved. They commented that the builder stops by from time to time to find out how it is going and they asked us if, as RehabiMed, we could help them train and modernize their work equipment, as it is becoming very outdated.
The attached images show the current situation and a detailed presentation of the project can be accessed at the following link