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Le Chat Noir: Coffee, Music and Culture on Sinai’s Shores

10 December, 2016
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Thirty-three-year old Nour Mourad had wanted to move away from Cairo and closer to the sea for a very long time. In July, her friends convinced her to take a trip to Dahab, since she had never been to the beautiful Sinai town. She took a couple of diving courses, got certified, went back to Cairo, couldn’t stand it, and decided to make Dahab her new home.

Now, Mourad is on a mission to change the cultural scene, and develop the little town’s community.

“I decided to move to Dahab with no plans, until a lady announced she was selling her cafe equipment, and that was my chance,” Mourad recalls.

After two months of working while surrounded by the sea and the calmness of the mountains, Mourad’s space has turned into a societal, cultural and arts hub. Located on the main walkway parallel to the coast, Le Chat Noir (French for "The Black Cat") is named after a nineteenth-century entertainment establishment in the bohemian Montmartre district of Paris.

Slowly affecting the music scene, jams constantly disrupt the quietness of the café’s surroundings.

“I wanted to help local artists and musicians [network] with similar artists, and help them release their creativity through collaborations, and maybe inspire each other and others as well,” Mourad stated.

The place has become so popular that musicians come from far away to play with their friends. The owner describes what happens when all the instruments and voices get together as "magical".

But the place is not only famous among musicians. Walking in, one gets to meet new people and many travelers with amazing backgrounds and life experiences. “It is very enriching,” asserts Mourad.



Le Chat Noir also encourages local women to sell their baked goods at the café. Mourad believes there are a lot of good bakers in Dahab, so she made a deal with them to provide their goods on a weekly basis. The café itself serves different types of desserts baked by a number of women who frequent the joint.  On asking Mourad who she buys the cakes, pies, bread and pastries from, the reply came: “I'm taking goods from everyone. No discrimination.”

“The community here is very productive when they want to be. “Young, old, Egyptian, or foreign, almost everyone here does something with their own hands and makes a living out of it,” Mourad said.

For that reason, Mourad decided to organize a weekly market for both adults and children to sell their art, handmade jewelry and crafts, along with their old or used stuff. She also put recycling workshops on Le Chat Noir’s priority list.

“Absolutely my favorite spot on earth so far. Too much good energy in the place, very unbelievable sea and view of the stars,” said Mahmoud Magdy in a review on Facebook. Another review by Bassem Sabry said: “Grateful for one of the most amazing jams ever. Awesome music, happy people, and good vibes.”

Le Chat Noir has big plans for Dahab’s future. Meditation and yoga sessions are to be conducted on the sunny roof with a great view in the morning, while later in the day the café will be a place for documentary and movie nights. Mourad is planning more activities for kids and adults that help the community and environment, as well as geting more bakers to sell their products in the location, and making the hub better organized for musicians to be able to have fun and release more of their “magic”.

With more people pouring in, and Mourad’s life revolving around her beloved space, Le Chat Noir is now buzzing until 1 a.m. in the morning.

“I want the place to be an outlet for creativity, whether it's art, music, cooking, dancing, crafts...whatever,” Mourad said. “My aim is to help the community benefit, and personally benefit from the community”.

Tags Dahab music cafe art