Mary Beth Clark

Culinary Educator · Consultant · Author

Cultural Symbol: The Unfinished Building

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Cultural Symbol: The Unfinished Building

As we're flying into Cairo's International Airport we look down on the city landscape. The visual greeting impresses. Are there thrift shops or garbage deposits as finials? Many buildings, especially apartment buildings, remain unfinished above the top floor. Scattered among naked pillars jutting upwards are piles of bricks and lumber, boxes, old carriages, broken chairs…

Throughout Cairo and in some areas of Aswan and Luxor, buildings remain unfinished. Reasons? The owner of the building does not have to pay taxes until the building is complete. The building is fully functional, often with a room or floor unfinished and not needed anyway. Balance. Financial concerns over aesthetic since usually we look up, not down. A cultural reason is providing for the family in another way. When a child marries, and lives with parents, the father uses this space to build another floor for the couple and their growing family.

In front of this unfinished building with flag flying and rarely seen clean "rooftop" in the Luxor countryside, a hard squash harvest awaits for pick-up. 



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Original photography, shot on location, by Mary Beth Clark.Back to Album



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