Egypt set to approve $80bn plan to build ‘New Cairo’
The government of Egypt is about to set plans in motion to build a new capital city a little to the east of the existing one, and will reportedly choose an Emirati developer to be its construction partner.Rumours have been circulating for the past year that the government was considering relocating itself to a new site. These have now been confirmed by Ashraf Salman, the minister for investment, who told the Abu Dhabi-based paper The National that the city would get the green light at a conference held next month at the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh.
“We are talking to a master developer,” he said. “A signature will take place by the conference, and after that the construction will begin.”
The project will be privately funded by an “investor developer” and is expected to cost about $80bn over 12 years, according to Salman.
He said the choice of developer had been narrowed down to two companies from the United Arab Emirates, declining to name them. Rumours have subsequently circulated that the Abu Dhabi-based firm Eagle Hills has been chosen for the work.
Salman told Bloomberg TV: “We’re talking a very big city. It is the ‘new New Cairo’.” He added that it would be on the road to Ain El Sokhna and would cover 70,000 acres, which is roughly equivalent to the size of the existing satellite city of New Cairo.
Salman, who was speaking on the sidelines of the Telegraph Middle East Congress in London, said the development would be built and funded entirely by the private sector, proving that Egypt is “really committed to an open-market economy”.
He said: “The government will incur zero cost in the city, and this will be totally developed, masterplanned and executed by a private sector company”.
The scheme cements the increasingly close relationship between Egypt’s Al-Sisi government and the Gulf states, who have been brought together by their mutual loathing for Muslim Brotherhood movement. Since the overthrow of the Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi regime in 2013, the Gulf states have given more than $12bn in aid and other assistance to Egypt.
As well as rewarding its allies, the scheme will provide employment for Egypt’s population and thereby reduce the popular discontent that has underlain recent upheavals in the country.
Photograph: Old Cairo has a population of about 17 million in its metropolitan area, making it the largest city in Africa (Luc Legay/Wikimedia Commons)