"Done watering the grass? We need to move to the garden behind the Dome," cried one of Cairo University's laborers to another as they worked diligently to give the campus a facelift ahead of American President Barack Obama's visit to Egypt on Thursday.
Obama's trip has stirred up a lot of ideological and political controversy but if there is one thing all Egyptians agree on it is that the president's visit has forced the government to pay attention to the densely populated city's neglected historical sites and roads.
In an effort to present itself in the best light possible, Egypt has deployed an army of workmen acorss Cairo to revamp the city's key roads and historical sites, mainly the ones Obama will visit, and lamp posts and pavements were being repainted, grass watered and garbage collected.
The dome of Cairo University, where Obama is expected to address the Muslim world, was polished to a tee and one of the world's grandest mosques, Sultan Hassan, also on Obama's itinerary, was refurbished inside and out with streets surrounding the presidential palace expected to be spotless.
"The workers are diligent indeed because they want to present Cairo to Obama in the best light," Fathy Shabaan, who lives near the presidential palace, told Al Arabiya.
Sultan Hassan mosque, is being completely spruced up for Obama's visit, which the manager said has been put on the back burner for far too long.
"Sultan Hassan is one of the grandest mosques in the world because it was built as a small city with cookery, storage, a huge court and of course a huge prayer space," mosque manager, Saeed Helmy, who is set to show Obama around, told Al Arabiya.
"We are indeed happy the mosque is finally getting the attention it deserves and we thank Obama and our government for making these renovations possible," Helmy added.
About 200 workers have been toiling away at the mosque since last week and have changed carpets, fixed lights and deep cleaned pulpits and floors.
Tarek al-Masry, a Cairo University graduate student, said the congested city was in desperate need of the cleanup and added that he hoped Obama would visit more places just so the government would pay attention to them.
“Obama’s visit has brought much needed repair and renovations to the streets and important sites in Cairo and Cairo University and Sultan Hassan mosque have benefitted already by getting their first renovation in almost 30 years!” al-Masry told Al Arabiya.
Obama's speech is set to be his latest outreach to the Muslim world, which began in his inaugural address and has continued through venues such as his interview with Al Arabiya, his Nowruz, or Iranian New Year, message and his speech at a town hall in Turkey.