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The ancient village of Harraniya is situated a few kilometres southwest of Cairo, with the pyramids of Giza clearly visible on the horizon and the site of Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt nearby. The countryside around Harraniya is agricultural and, while fruit and vegetables are grown for the market at Giza, alfalfa is the principal crop.
Until recently Harraniya had little to distinguish it from any other peasant village in Lower Egypt. Although still predominantly rural in character, it employs only one quarter of its estimated 7,000 inhabitants in agriculture. Up to two thirds of the young men who live here commute to Giza or Cairo to work in hotels, catering and other service industries, while 10% work as laborers. There are few craftsmen – other than those working at the centre – or white collar workers.
The social organization of the village is traditional. For example, it is still not considered normal for a woman to work outside the home.
The Ramses Wissa Wassef Art centre’s site near Harraniya was part of a flood plain of the Nile before the completion of the second stage of the Aswan High Dam in 1952 and lies just off the Sakkara Road, about two kilometers outside the greenbelt that surrounds metropolitan Cairo. The Centre is the home of a unique experiment in tapestry weaving that has produced extraordinary works admired and collected by museums and galleries around the world. The life work of its founder Ramses Wissa Wassef (1911-1974) was dedicated to releasing the innate creativity of young Egyptian villagers freed from the constraints of a formal education. The weaving village was the recipient of an Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1983. Visitors are welcome.
Just next door is the beautiful Adam Henein Museum “A Life of Creativity”, located in Al-Labeini St, Al-Harraniya. A priceless gift from the artist himself to the country, it includes the largest, and ever-growing, collection of Henein’s world renowned sculptures as well as featuring some of his paintings.