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Preserving Alexandria in Art

A budding artist is bidding to save the seaside town by introducing Alexandria to Mona Lisa and immortalising the city on a sketchpad. Conor Sheils speaks to Mohamed Gohar to find out more.

It was once the jewel of the Mediterranean but frankly dear old Alexandria has seen better days. Nevertheless one art savvy architecht is hoping to bring Egypt's awkward middle child back to its glory days using just a pencil and sketchpad. Mohamed Gohar, is heading a crack-team of drawing experts in a bid to preserve the city's architecture before profit hungry developers change it forever. Gohar, 30, founded Alexandria Urban Sketchers a year ago as a meeting group for up and coming drawing devotees. But in just a few short months the group has mushroomed into a codename for the art activists vying to save the city's architecture.

"I started the group about a year ago as a sketching training group for artists. We are losing are architecture and our history here in Alexandria. It is crumbling bit by bit over time and I fear that someday it will be gone forever. We are losing part of our identity day by day. I want to be able to show my kids how great this city once was," Gobar tells us about the group's humble and noble beginnings.

And the talented Alexandrian believes that Cairo politics are preventing people from focusing on the second city. He added that "The situation in Egypt right now means that architecture projects are often forgetten. Many people don't realise what is happening to the city and of those who do, many don't care. Even in the government there is a sense ofnonchallence towards saving our historic buildings."

Gohar now plans to release a coffee table-style book designed to immortalise his beloved home town, putting together the best sketches, within months. "I'm working on sketching as much of the city as possible at the moment. There are so many nice buildings which should be immortalised. We're just ordinary Alexandrians, doing what we can to help out!"

To find out more, visit Alexandria Urban Sketchers' Facebook page here.


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