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Woman taking photo on Balcony in Cairo
@batoolaldaawi, Sheraton Cairo Hotel & Casino
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Through the Lens: Cairo

Our Through the Lens interviews offer a never-before-seen view of our favorite communities. This time we look Through the Lens with Batool Al Daawi as she captures the vibrant and magical city of Cairo.

Cairo-born Batool Al Daawi has lived in Syria and New York, but she calls Cairo home. It’s where her creative agency, Blow Creative Studio, is based and where she shoots fashion and celebrity photographs, as well as scenes of her city and its surrounding community.

Fresh from a photography shoot at the Sheraton, Batool shared her thoughts on the property in Cairo, the city’s inhabitants and its particular brand of magic.

What’s stands out to you about the Sheraton Cairo Hotel & Casino?

I used to go to the Sheraton when I was a kid, and my parents had all these old black-and-white pictures from over 30 years ago. I still have them. It always meant something, I think, for people here in Egypt — a lot of people would remember it. The Sheraton kind of has its own meaning for people who grew up in Cairo.

Woman in Sheraton Club reading
@batoolaldaawi, Sheraton Cairo Hotel & Casino

Do you have a favorite aspect of the property?

The Sheraton’s location makes it easy for anyone to be connected to the art scene in Cairo, as most of it happens around Downtown and Zamalek. Not to mention that it’s right on the Nile and so central to the many bridges which connect the city, so you have a way to get to everywhere from there.

I also love the rooftop Club Lounge. It has 360-degree views, so from every room you can get a different angle of the city and the Nile. You can capture great pictures from there. I would love to work there every day. With the views and the sun, it’s very comfy.

Is there a strong arts community in Cairo?

Yes! Lately there’s been so much going on in the art scene in Cairo, especially downtown. We just had a Photography Week full of workshops, talks and exhibitions in which I was a speaker and judge, and it brought so many people together: Egyptian photographers, speakers from around the Middle East and Europe, and many big names in photography.

View of Cairo skyline from hotel
@batoolaldaawi, Sheraton Cairo Hotel & Casino

How do you travel in Cairo? Does this impact the way you experience the city’s various communities?

It’s always better to walk in the city so you can see it properly. You can find old vintage cars in the street and in a diverse city like Cairo, with such a big population, you’re always going to see different faces and people from different backgrounds. You get to see everyone from hip artist types to the old men in cafés. It depends on the neighborhood, but when you walk you see all the bars and shisha cafés and restaurants where the locals go. I love Old Cairo, which is beautiful, with its mosques and the pyramids. And the places by the Nile where you can dine and go clubbing. I love the small falucca boats that cruise up and down the river. As dusty as the city is, it gets you. There’s something about it!

What’s your tip for taking memorable photos of Cairo?

The cool thing about the golden hour — when you get sun flares, when the sun turns everything gold, which is around 3 p.m. depending on the season — is that the pyramids and the citadel turn from beige and brown stone into gold. If you want to photograph the pyramids at that time, the sun makes them glow.

City lights of Cairo
@batoolaldaawi, Sheraton Cairo Hotel & Casino

What makes Cairo unique?

Cairo is crazy, but its madness works. The city is diverse and constantly unexpected, so you can get inspired by anything, everything and everyone — from the city’s history and heritage to the culture to the modern, crazy, crowded side of it. Cairo is a mixture of everything, and there’s a different taste to it that adds a lot to whatever piece of art you’re creating.

This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

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Associate opening hotel entrance door