Mahmud is one of a few craftsmen in the Qaitbey neighbourhood making the different metal parts for waterpipes (shisha) that are ubiquitous in Cairo. He has been in the Qaitbey neighbourhood for 13 years, and never worked anywhere else. He learned welding and other metal-working skills in his father’s workshop, also in the Qaitbey area, where he used to make small gas heaters before he specialised in shisha parts. His main task in the shop is welding the small trays and caps on which burners for charcoal are placed in waterpipes. The material originally used was copper, now it has been replaced with stainless steel and chrome-plated steel.
Mahmud believes that it is essential to respect and appreciate one’s trade to succeed in it.