A bright green lawn is spreading across Egypt’s Tahrir Square over a year and a half since revolutionary protests turned the space into a dustbowl.
Workers were out in force this week laying down the new turf, as part of a temporary restoration project to be finished before the government begins a full redevelopment, details of which are still to be announced.
Security forces moved protesters out of the square this week after four days of clashes sparked by a film denigrating the Prophet Mohammad.
Now, it is workers in overalls who are scurrying across the plaza.
“We started a comprehensive development program four or five days ago to re-plant the square to restore its previous state. There is a further plan that will be implemented by the Ministry of Urban Planning alongside Cairo Province to redevelop the Square entirely, but for now we are working to restore it to its previous state, thanks to God,” engineer Youssry el-Serougi said.
Tahrir became the epicenter of the public uprising that ousted President Mubarak last year and become a worldwide icon of the Arab Spring.
Street vendors moved in during the protests and tents were set-up.
After protesters gathered again in anti-U.S. protests outside the American embassy this week, security forces moved in to clear the crowd on September 15.
Cordons were formed in the surrounding roads and plain-clothes officers patrolled the area.
Now, security trucks are still lined up next to the square and the garbage and torched vehicles have been cleared away.
Some locals say they hope security will start to improve in the area.
“There were constant problems in the square, I mean big problems: there were people fighting each other with knives, others were shooting bullets, but thank God, the interior ministry (police forces) did a clearance. There were some good people at the square, but the bad people were many, therefore, the situation is good now,” Cairo resident, Ibrahim Said, said.
Red and white cobblestones are the only new addition to the makeover so far.
Everything else at the square has been restored exactly as it was before the revolution.
Some political activists have called for the establishment of a new site for holding free protests, in order to keep Tahrir Square in shape.