Yaser Bookbinder & Manager of Abd El Zaher bookshop: Artisan of al-Darb al-Ahmar, Cairo

Yasser has been working in the bookshop since he was 10. His grandfather started the business in 1936 and his father took over in 1952.

Street-life outside the Abd El Zaher bookshop in al-Darb al-Ahmar.

The shops has always bound books but it began producing journals and notebooks 10 years ago. Materials come from far and wide: the leather from Egypt, the paper from Indonesia and Italy. Some of the material for the covers come from France. The gold ink, for embossing and stamping, comes from Germany.

Freshly bound books ready for stamping

The books pages are sewn together and placed inside hand-made covers. Sometimes the edges of the pages are gilded and words or shapes are hand-stamped on the covers. Yaser's work covers the whole process of making a book. He enjoys the variety of his work. And he enjoys meeting different people; most of their customers are tourists.

Yaser selects stamps from a variety of shapes then heats them and stamps the books with gold leaf.

“Al-Darb al-Ahmar is Egypt” he says smiling. “It is the soul of Egypt. The genetics of Egyptian people are here in Darb Al Ahmar. If you live here you see the same morals of people that Naguib Mahfouz saw 100 years ago, the good and the bad.”

An employee from finishes the books and prepares them for sale.

“Al-Darb al-Ahmar is Egypt; It is the soul of Egypt"

‘The Artisans of al-Darb al-Ahmar: Life and Work in Historic Cairo’ exhibition is taking place at the Royal Geographical Society, Exhibition Road, London, from 22 March to 24 April 2018.

This exhibition showcases the people and personalities that make up daily life in this unique district, home to over 1,000 artisan workshops and 60 monuments of Islamic architecture. It presents artisans at work, some of whom are part of a tradition going back a thousand years but whose skills may not last another generation. More information available here.

For more information, please contact: christopher.w-steer@akdn.org

Created By
Christopher Wilton-Steer


Christopher Wilton-Steer

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.