Conflicting Realities by Mennatullah Hendawy
Today, by simply walking in the streets of Cairo or tuning into one of the national TV channels, one is captured by hundreds of real estate billboards and TV ads that share certain characteristics. These can be summarized in two points: promoting moving out of Cairo and buying a new apartment or villa in a new city or a nearby compound, and the use of almost the same visual symbols (i.e., 3-D models of the apartments over-looking a big green area, swimming pools, shopping centers etc.) that project what the future city will look like.
The article follows a qualitative exploratory methodology. Data were collected through various methods including participant observations and visual analysis of Cairo billboards as an outdoor advertising tool to obtain a general overview of the publicly mediated city images/messages. The billboards on the sides of 6th October Bridge were used as a case study for this investigation as it is the longest bridge in Egypt. This analysis was conducted in November 2018 on a sample of 209 billboards.
In this globalized and mediatized age, the mediated realities target and are accessible mostly for upper classes which raises various questions about social, spatial and visual (in)justices.