Women-only cafe opens in Upper Egypt

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Women-only cafe opens in Upper Egypt

Post by DJKeefy » Mon Jun 12, 2017 1:37 pm

Women-only cafes have recently become quite popular in Egypt, but Sameh’s was the first to open in Upper Egypt's conservative Luxor province. The Pink Cafe offers a venue for Luxor women to go out and have fun without risking criticism from their conservative community.

The cafe caters to entirely female customers. The entrance is marked with “Girls Only” signs and the all-female staff wears pink uniforms in the all-pink decor. Smoking is strictly forbidden.

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Sameh told Al-Monitor, “I thought about opening the cafe because it is difficult to find a decent place to hang out at in Luxor or spend my spare time without being harassed. My husband is against the idea of me going to cafes where men are allowed, so this is how I started thinking about a women-only cafe.”

Sameh said, “I conducted a quick survey on Facebook, asking women [friends] how they felt about such a cafe, and many supported my idea and encouraged me. They even gave me suggestions such as creating a children's entertainment corner, suggested sound tracks for background music and warned against allowing smoking, all of which I took into consideration and applied.”

Not everyone was encouraging her plan, however. Some of her neighbors told her that the cafe was a waste of time and men would try to get in. She was also told that she would have trouble getting a permit.

However, when she opened in early May, an unexpected number of girls and women came pouring in. “The cafe received broad acclaim and we try to maintain a good reputation in Luxor. We provide free wifi so many university students and schoolgirls visit the cafe. They feel comfortable here. They feel safe because they know no one will be judging or criticizing them,” she said.

During the holy month of Ramadan, the cafe serves iftar meals and beverages after the daily fast is over. “Ramadan is a great opportunity to expand social circles, especially in the only women-only cafe in Upper Egypt, where it is completely safe for women to stay late,” Sameh noted.

She said that after opening to such immediate success, she received many requests from labor unions about receiving discounts for union members in exchange for promoting the cafe. Sameh is thinking about expanding the project to other provinces in Upper Egypt, such as Qena and Aswan, as women who live there have been expressing interest and contacting her over social media.

Sameh said that she is not running the business for the money. “If I were only trying to make money out of this, the first thing I would have done is allow smoking in the cafe. Instead, I figured it would be better if I provide a social service that brings together women and girls without mixing with men,” she said, adding that Upper Egypt still suffers from a lack of entertainment outlets such as shopping malls.

Women-only cafes were first introduced in Cairo with the Tarter Cafe, which opened in Heliopolis in 2007, followed by the Sabaya Cafe in 2009. Other cafes started opening elsewhere, such as Alexandria's Banat w Bass Cafe. The Pink Cafe is the first of its kind in Upper Egypt.

But reactions to women-only cafes are divided, with advocates seeing them as an opportunity for socialization and critics claiming they're marginalization and isolation in disguise.

Reda al-Danbouqi, the director of the Women's Center for Guidance and Legal Awareness, told Al-Monitor, “Women-only cafes allow women to go out of their houses to have fun without getting harassed, which often happens in cafes and other public places frequented by men. They also provide employment opportunities for women, which may help them achieve economic independence in close-minded societies.”

Danbouqi said the cafe is proof that Upper Egypt is changing, noting, “Several civil society organizations have opened in Upper Egypt and many women have been trained there. Some moved to other Egyptian provinces while others moved abroad. Society in Upper Egypt is now ready for initiatives that empower women and with time, society will accept other similar ideas.”

Basma al-Khatib, the director of women’s issues at the For Egypt Association in Qena, disagrees. She told Al-Monitor, “There are many reasons for women's marginalization in Upper Egypt. This is not about having cafes for women or other places where they can have fun. We have special clubs in Qena such as the Girls’ Club, but the turnout is very weak.”

She added, “Other factors that marginalize women include the poor economic situation of women, their lack of education and the patriarchal society in general. Therefore, any women-only project contributes to further isolating women in a society that believes women should remain hidden. Allocating such places for women alone is like allocating places for people with special needs.

“The world kept isolating people with special needs, thinking that it was protecting them. No one realized that isolating them was depriving them of their freedom," Khatib concluded.


Source: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/origina ... egypt.html


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Re: Women-only cafe opens in Upper Egypt

Post by HEPZIBAH » Mon Jun 12, 2017 2:15 pm

Interesting! I remember a Ladies Only Coffee Shop in Luxor was a topic of conversation here on L4U many, many years ago. It's a shame that there needs to be a distinction but alas in Luxor the coffee shops on the whole are very much male preserves. I think it has changed more in recent years but there is still a big gap in what is socially acceptable and comfortable for Egyptian women to do. I hope this coffee shop helps to fill that gap and does well.
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Re: Women-only cafe opens in Upper Egypt

Post by newcastle » Mon Jun 12, 2017 3:50 pm

"The Pink Cafe".....great idea.

But make sure there's no "Rainbow Flags" outside.... :oops:

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Re: Women-only cafe opens in Upper Egypt

Post by Dusak » Mon Jun 12, 2017 4:06 pm

A very good idea me thinks and wish her the very best. But one problem I could envisage is the local ''louts'' congregating outside, causing mischief, especially when the women are attempting to get home, dependent on the time of day, although I can't see many using it at night time. Suppose that would depend on its location.
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Re: Women-only cafe opens in Upper Egypt

Post by newcastle » Mon Jun 12, 2017 4:32 pm

Dusak wrote:A very good idea me thinks and wish her the very best. But one problem I could envisage is the local ''louts'' congregating outside, causing mischief, especially when the women are attempting to get home, dependent on the time of day, although I can't see many using it at night time. Suppose that would depend on its location.
Apart from that, very real, possibility I wonder what the demand is likely to be in Luxor.

I'm not surprised that there's been some success in cosmopolitan Cairo...with its students etc. But in conservative Luxor?

As Basma al-Khatib, the director of women’s issues at the For Egypt Association in Qena, pointed out, Women-only clubs there are poorly attended.

Although the profitability of the cafe seems not to be a motive, is it likely to survive if it runs at a loss?

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Re: Women-only cafe opens in Upper Egypt

Post by Miss scarlett » Mon Jun 12, 2017 4:41 pm

Anyone know where it is situated?

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Re: Women-only cafe opens in Upper Egypt

Post by HEPZIBAH » Mon Jun 12, 2017 4:51 pm

Miss scarlett wrote:Anyone know where it is situated?
A quick search takes me to their Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/Pink-Cafe-%D9% ... 611375209/
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Re: Women-only cafe opens in Upper Egypt

Post by HEPZIBAH » Mon Jun 12, 2017 8:46 pm

I've been thinking about this. I'm now left wondering if this is an equivalent of the 'male' coffee shops for the women. By that I am thinking very much of the typical coffee shops where the men sit and can afford to drink tea and coffee (and have their smoke) because the charges are at 'local' rates. There are a number of places on the East Bank that women, with or without their children, can meet with reasonable safety and comfort, but they do seem to be much more akin to the tourist cafes - with prices to match.

I hope that Pink Cafe is marketed well to the Luxor women and doesn't just become a cheap place for ex-pats and tourists to hang out in. I'm not suggesting non Egyptians should be barred, and I appreciate that business is business, but they can be off putting at times!
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Re: Women-only cafe opens in Upper Egypt

Post by Bombay » Mon Jun 12, 2017 9:54 pm

Luxor is not that conservative the Platform 5 Cafe is always busy with young people of both sexes.

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Re: Women-only cafe opens in Upper Egypt

Post by Winged Isis » Tue Jun 13, 2017 12:06 am

A great idea. Poorly attended clubs for girls may be the result of parental restrictions. Different to coffee shops which are more likely targeting women, who would have more freedom and money, though I know they also can have restrictions imposed upon them.

Good luck to her!
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Re: Women-only cafe opens in Upper Egypt

Post by newcastle » Tue Jun 13, 2017 6:19 am

HEPZIBAH wrote:

I hope that Pink Cafe is marketed well to the Luxor women and doesn't just become a cheap place for ex-pats and tourists to hang out in. I'm not suggesting non Egyptians should be barred, and I appreciate that business is business, but they can be off putting at times!
The "no men" rule might be a bit of a disincentive for some ex-pats and tourists ;)

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Re: Women-only cafe opens in Upper Egypt

Post by newcastle » Tue Jun 13, 2017 6:34 am

This Economist article from last September perhaps encapsulates my point.

So what will Brexit really mean?

Theresa May’s ministers are carefully avoiding specific answers. But she is systematically disowning many of the Brexiteers’ promises

Some 77 days have passed since Britain voted on June 23rd to leave the European Union. Yet this period has been strangely reminiscent of 77 years ago, after Neville Chamberlain declared war on Nazi Germany: a phoney war. Theresa May, the prime minister, has created a new Department for Exiting the EU and put three leading Brexiteers (pictured) in charge of the process. But little else has happened. Article 50 of the EU treaty, which would kick off negotiations, has not been invoked. And Mrs May’s mantra, “Brexit means Brexit”, has become a tired cliché.

http://www.economist.com/news/britain/2 ... ematically

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Re: Women-only cafe opens in Upper Egypt

Post by carrie » Tue Jun 13, 2017 6:56 am

I wouldn't mind giving the place a try but it seems a little too far out of town and it's one downfall so far as I am concerned "no smoking".
The Agricultural Club seems to attract quite a few young ladies and they never have any problems with harassment in there. Many students from the nearby Art School use it quite a lot.

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Re: Women-only cafe opens in Upper Egypt

Post by BENNU » Thu Jun 15, 2017 8:42 am

carrie wrote:I wouldn't mind giving the place a try but it seems a little too far out of town ...
The Agricultural Club seems to attract quite a few young ladies and they never have any problems with harassment in there. Many students from the nearby Art School use it quite a lot.
It is almost around the corner from Agricultural Club, which is now called Wust el Balad, by the way. Opposite Sunset Hotel near Medina.

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Re: Women-only cafe opens in Upper Egypt

Post by carrie » Thu Jun 15, 2017 9:38 am

Oh Bennu I am stuck in the past, The Steigenberger will forever remain the Meridian the Ibotel the Nova the Etab or what ever it's called the Etap. :lol:
I looked at the map and the cafe seemed to be further out of town, I will have to give it a go after Ramadan. Have you visited it yet?

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Re: Women-only cafe opens in Upper Egypt

Post by BENNU » Thu Jun 15, 2017 10:41 am

carrie wrote:Oh Bennu I am stuck in the past, The Steigenberger will forever remain the Meridian the Ibotel the Nova the Etab or what ever it's called the Etap. :lol:
I looked at the map and the cafe seemed to be further out of town, I will have to give it a go after Ramadan. Have you visited it yet?
Me too, I call hotels by their old names, but others could get confused.
We were talking about the cafe and some ladies were determined to find it. They loved it, I have not had the pleasure yet myself.

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Re: Women-only cafe opens in Upper Egypt

Post by Winged Isis » Thu Jun 15, 2017 1:25 pm

Nice to see back, Bennu.
Carpe diem! :le:

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Re: Women-only cafe opens in Upper Egypt

Post by Winged Isis » Sat Mar 24, 2018 1:25 am

carrie, did you ever go?
Carpe diem! :le:

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Re: Women-only cafe opens in Upper Egypt

Post by Winged Isis » Sat Mar 24, 2018 2:02 am

HEPZIBAH wrote:
Miss scarlett wrote:Anyone know where it is situated?
A quick search takes me to their Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/Pink-Cafe-%D9% ... 611375209/
It doesn't obviously show the address, well not in English, but it seems to be Sharia Ali Ibn Abi Taleb.

Where exactly is the ex-Agricultural Club/now Wust el Balad, please? A street name and landmark would be helpful.

A little bit south from these places is a 5-star hotel, Club Med, river-side of Sharia Khaled Ibn al Walid. Possibly closed? If you stand facing that, is the New Polla Hotel up on the next corner to your right?
Carpe diem! :le:

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Re: Women-only cafe opens in Upper Egypt

Post by HEPZIBAH » Sat Mar 24, 2018 5:37 am

Winged Isis wrote:
HEPZIBAH wrote:
Miss scarlett wrote:Anyone know where it is situated?
A quick search takes me to their Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/Pink-Cafe-%D9% ... 611375209/
It doesn't obviously show the address, well not in English, but it seems to be Sharia Ali Ibn Abi Taleb.

Where exactly is the ex-Agricultural Club/now Wust el Balad, please? A street name and landmark would be helpful.

A little bit south from these places is a 5-star hotel, Club Med, river-side of Sharia Khaled Ibn al Walid. Possibly closed? If you stand facing that, is the New Polla Hotel up on the next corner to your right?
Although I have not used it when in Luxor, I thought the 'click on and enlarge' map was quite helpful, clearly giving street names and a location marker. There is also a 'get directions' bit which takes you to google maps. There is also the option to message them and ask for information.
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it is what you do with what happens to you.
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