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Arabs, The - A Living History, Part 3 - Cairo: The City Victorious?

(50 mins) This film looks at changing fortunes in the traditional relationship between Arab city and countryside. We focus on one small corner of Cairo and one small village in the Nile Delta, sixty miles to the north. In the village we meet a young peasant, Mitwali Balah, and come to understand his arduous life which he wishes to exchange for the seemingly magical prospects of life in Cairo. The film follows the young man to Cairo where he seeks the advice and company of other migrant workers from his home village. Disillusion sets in and he returns to the Delta.

The lives of these young peasants are looked at not only in the context of the overburdened, overpopulated Cairo of today but in the context of a 19th Century dream, of creating a city to rival Paris. Ever-present are the great monuments of medieval Cairo ­ a potent reminder of the power that flowed from her when she was the greatest of all Arab cities. In observing the struggles and hopes of the migrant workers, economist Galal Amin shows how the once-dominant Arab city has become simply another metropolis, dependant for its survival on manipulation from afar and social forces which are now universal.