Le port de la Canée (Crète) dates from 1923, the year Mahmoud Saïd returned to Egypt following his European tour. The power of the sea and of the wind, that dictates the direction of the boats' sails, seems to splash foam out from the painting's edges, exemplifying Saïd's talent in grasping the dynamism of the scene. It also demonstrates the way in which Impressionism, that Saïd had experienced in France, brushed the Alexandrian painter's palette, yet how it proved to impose too many constraints on his own artistic goals. The prismatic sea, executed with thick, broad brushstrokes, hints to Impressionist works, although Saïd limits the risks of its anticipated airiness by imposing a solid block of wall in the middle of the composition, in front of a horizon of buildings and mountains. He gives further substance to his structure by incorporating a complex game of diagonal, horizontal and vertical lines, yet maintaining a harmonious balance between all the different elements of the composition.
This vibrant seascape captures the windy scene and the raging waves breaking into the harbor of the city of 'Chania' otherwise known as 'La Canea'. Situated on the north coast of Crete, Chania is the island's second largest city and is renowned for its rich cultural heritage. Due to its strategic position in the Mediterranean sea at the crossroads of the East and the West, Chania unavoidably fell in the hands of numerous foreign conquerors. As a result, its architecture and culture is a blend of Classical Greek, Venetian, Byzantine and Ottoman elements, some of which are encapsulated in Saïd's representation of the city port. The large block of wall at the centre of the composition is part of the remains from 16th century Venetian fortifications and the ochre and red houses are reminiscent of Venetian architecture. The two or three minarets piercing through the painting refer to the Ottoman occupation, during which most of Chania's churches were turned into mosques. Although Chania can be seen as a glorious platform of various cultures, it seems that the ravages of successive foreign dominations are remembered in Saïd's surging waves. The Egyptian master's interest in Chania may be explained by the parallel between the tumultuous past of this picturesque Cretan city port and that of the artist's hometown, Alexandria, both being cradles of a wide range of civilisations, benefiting from a rich cultural heritage whilst inevitably paying the price of war spoils throughout their respective pasts.