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Iconic Cairo Tower remains closed

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Following issues with the lease of the tower employees stage a protest to object lack of employment

The Cairo Tower is an intricate part of the Zamalek neighbourhood (Photo by Thoraia Abou Bakr)

The Cairo Tower is an intricate part of the Zamalek neighbourhood
(Photo by Thoraia Abou Bakr)

The Cairo Tower is known for the great panoramic views of the Nile and the many neighbourhoods of Cairo you can see from the top, as well as the revolving restaurant. It is a very attractive venue for Egyptians and tourists alike, and until recently, the tower was an inexpensive way to spend an afternoon. However, this all changed in 2013.

In April 2013, the workers at the Cairo Tower in Zamalek staged a protest to object to their working conditions. At the time, the investor leasing the tower was a Lebanese businessman called Khaled Waleed Abu Zahra, who reportedly obtained the tower’s lease from his father after his death. Workers complained of the lack of care they received, the increase in ticket prices, which reached EGP 30 for Egyptians and EGP 70 for foreigners, and the lack of benefits provided by the investor. They claimed that he fired employees at will and did not follow labour laws. The workers demanded that the management of the tower be returned to the Egyptian government.

On 30 January 2014, the workers received a phone call from Abu Zahra notifying them that he would not renew the lease and that they were out of work. The workers found out that a new investor was lined up to take on the operation of the tower, but that the 120 workers employed would be let go. The workers then staged a protest at the Cairo Tower, which has been closed since the beginning of February since there has been no investor officially announced, and the workers remain unemployed.

The Ministry of Tourism spokesman said the situation falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Investment. The spokesman for the Ministry of Investment, however, did not have any information regarding the problem.

The tower was designed by Egyptian architect Naoum Shebib, who was known for his modern style. He was inspired by the Pharaonic use of the lotus flower for the design of the tower. The construction took place from 1956 until 1961. The tower was inaugurated by president Gamal Abdel Nasser who used a $6m gift from United States to fund the construction process. At the time, many considered his decision to funnel the funds towards the construction and the subsequent tower as a gesture of defiance to the American government.


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