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International artists give colorful makeover to Egyptian fishing village


CAIRO: An Egyptian fishing village has been given a colorful makeover by local and international artists as part of a burgeoning annual festival.

Buildings and boats in the coastal community of Borg El-Borollos have been transformed into vibrant artworks with decorative drawings produced by 45 volunteers from 22 countries.

The annual symposium sees bland streets, walls and objects turned into elaborate and colorful displays in a project masterminded by local Abdel-Wahab Abdel-Mohsen, who said the event had put the “charming” village on the tourist map.

“The symposium also contributes in developing society, enhancing cultural and artistic sense and boosting the perception of beauty among residents, especially after many preparatory and high school students took part in the gathering,” he added.

Many of the paintings are inspired by the natural surroundings of the area, as well as depicting fishing boats with their crews and nets.

Abdel-Mohsen said dozens of art students from Alexandria, Mansoura, and Kafr El-Sheikh had taken part along with youth from centers in Kafr El-Sheikh governorate, and people with special needs from Al-Shams Group.

“This year we expanded the scope of participation due to the rising number of artists and volunteers from around the world,” he added. Painters came from countries including India, China, Saudi Arabia, Croatia, France, Greece, Rwanda, Yemen, and Sudan.

The initiative was launched in 2014 by the Abdel-Wahab Abdel-Mohsen Foundation for Culture, Arts and Development out of its founder’s desire to decorate the city.

Since then, artists from around the world have been making the annual trip to Borg El-Borollos to join the carnival of color. “The residents are certainly happy with the change,” Abdel-Mohsen added.

Last year, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) collaborated with the foundation for the event. Abdel-Mohsen, a prominent artist in his own right, said the UNFPA had development goals that it tried to achieve through platforms such as seminars and conferences to raise awareness on reproductive health issues.

However, the fund had adopted a different approach in recent years, using art as a way to promote its messages.

UNFPA representative in Egypt, Aleksandar Bodiroza, said the Borg El-Borollos symposium “paves the way for opening various discussions with the city’s residents, where ideas from countries meet.”

Bodiroza added that the event was not only a festival of color but a tool for developing society.

During last year’s collaboration the UNFPA chose to talk about youth in general, meeting with the artists before they started their work, however, this year the theme was social-based gender discrimination. 

“We thought that early marriage should be our message,” Bodiroza said.

Sayed Clip, a local resident, said every year more houses were painted. “The city’s residents are happy to see their homes painted in vibrant colors. So, they become part and parcel of the whole scene whenever they look out of their windows or lean on the walls.”

Adel Hameed, one of the painters participating in the symposium, told Arab News: “Each artist expresses his or her feelings about the Mediterranean city. Thus, the color blue takes over the walls to give the city’s residents the warmth and security they are constantly searching for.”



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