Tuk Tuk Drivers of Cairo

Cairo is a huge city with an estimated population of about 22 million. About 60% are informal areas with often narrow streets that are difficult to access with normal cars and impossible with buses. Many of those streets are even without asphalt and taxi drivers refuse to go there because they do not want to damage their cars. But it would not be Cairo if there wasn’t a solution: Tuk tuks! Or rickshaws as they are called in India or Pakistan.

Anybody who ever sat in a tuk tuk in Egypt knows that their drivers are a kind for themselves. Stylish, young, often poor but very cool and flirting with girls. They are the James Deans of Cairo's informal areas.

For my portrait project I wanted the tuk-tuk drivers to portray themselves at their favourite places and pose in a way they wanted to appear in the photo. I never knew it advance to which place they would take me. It was an organised photoshoot without knowing the location. They often chose places where the beauty did not immediately present itself to me. But taking a closer look, one often discovers some greenery or nature of some sort. Posing was surprisingly (or maybe not) easy for them since being a tuk-tuk driver is synonymous with being cool.

Working as a tuk tuk driver means quick money. There are no regulations and everybody can drive a tuk tuk, regardless of age and no driving license is needed. Many accidents happen though. Boulaq Dakrour, where I portrayed these guys, is separated from more prosperous parts of Cairo by train tracks that serves as an invisible wall between people who made it and people who live on the edge of society.


Copyright © 2021 Claudia Wiens



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Member of Women Photograph


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