Egyptians call Cairo "Um el-Dunya" - the Mother of the World. Other Arabs, depending on their general attitude, also use the phrase, either nostalgically (remembering wild times of their youth) or cynically (realizing how very badly they were taken for a ride during same, which is after all something of an Egyptian speciality).
It's a city that features a collapsing Second Empire downtown, views of the Pyramids on the rare clear day, views of the medieval Citadel even on less-clear days (it's both higher and closer), and on every corner either a cell-phone store, a coffeeshop, or a Forex (they've multiplied like Starbucks since the last time we were here - which is more than you can say for Starbucks, which continues to be considered with a highly appropriate combination of suspicion and derision in a city that lives and dies on its café life).
At the moment I'm in a daze of local luxury, enjoying things unimaginable back in our little Sultanate on Sea - things like lightning fast ADSL that the nice man brought into the flat in less than five minutes; a laundry that picked up and delivered a full week's clothes in less than six hours and for less than four Rials; and my very favorite thing: Otlob.com.
It's only an online restaurant delivery service, and I suppose if you haven't lived the past decade mostly in Africa and the Gulf, you might not think it so miraculous, but there you are : I did and and I do. Mr. Muscato is off dealing with Family Matters, and so I'm sitting on the balcony, watching the Nile go by on a crisp, cool evening, and waiting for an order of spicy shrimp pasta from the local Italian. Um el-Dunya indeed...