World & Nation

Throwback Thursday: Viewing life from the roof

On the rooftop
Alia Qotb and her husband, Ahmed Gaballah, on the roof where they lived in Cairo.
(Asmaa Waguih / For the Times)

In 2007, Times reporter Jeffrey Fleishman told of life at the top in Cairo. But it’s not what you might think. People living on roofs there are the city’s poor — cheap rent and charity help them survive.

“Every rooftop has a story,” Fleishman wrote. “Mostly poor ones. If you’re up on the roof, you’ve missed something — the decent job, the lucky break, the well-connected cousin.”

He tells the story of Alia Qotb, pictured above on the rooftop where she had lived for more than 20 years. She was born in the basement of the building.

A widow who lived above her on the rooftop across the alley felt sorry for her.


“I look down and pity her. She has it worse,” Samia Mekkawy told Fleishman.

But life wasn’t always so bleak for Qotb. Read Fleishman’s whole story here.

Don’t want to wait until next Thursday for an L.A. Times throwback? Follow L.A. Times Past on Tumblr.



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Twitter: @lauraelizdavis

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