A new city for the political, administrative and military elite. President of Egypt Abdel Fattah al-Sisi dreams of a new capital city for the country and development has begun on the project, which was originally announced in March 2015. The city has yet to be named, but it is already certain that it will be built in the desert some 50 km east of Cairo. Covering 700 square kilometres and almost four times the size of Milan, the city will host the new government headquarters, provide accommodation for five million people and have 1,000 mosques, industrial areas, a congress centre to seat 5,000 and the world’s biggest park.
The Egyptian government’s decision was based on projections that the population of the metropolitan area of Cairo (which grows by two million new residents every year) will double over the next 40 years. Today the megalopolis, which has been Egypt’s capital since the 10th century, is the largest African urban area, with over 18 million inhabitants. The new city should solve the issues of congestion and pollution in the current Egyptian capital.
The project also aims to be a turning point for the country’s economy, which over the last few years has suffered due to social instability following the fall of Hosni Mubarak.
Financing has already been secured for the project. After resolving various issues that came to light following the signing of the preliminary agreements, China Fortune Land Development Company (a Chinese Shanghai Stock Exchange-listed real estate group founded in 1998 by Wang Wenxue, who is still its main shareholder) announced its plan to invest USD 20 billion in the project over the next 10 years. The Egyptian government and a Chinese state-owned company have also contributed an additional USD 15 billion, which brings the project closer to reaching its funding budget of the USD 45 billion needed to build the satellite city.
The ministries and various housing blocks will be constructed in the first stage, which could be completed in as little as five years. Once building is complete, the ministries, parliament and foreign embassies will be moved to the new metropolis, which will have a new airport, a huge amusement park four times the size of Disneyland, 2,000 schools and hundreds of healthcare facilities.
Egypt has already built various satellite cities on the outskirts of Cairo, but despite high investments they have had low occupation rates. Many other countries have completed similar projects over the last few years, the most well-known being Brasilia, Brazil’s capital designed by Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer in the 1950s and inaugurated in 1960.
China Fortune Land Development Company is currently building a new Chinese government district in Xiongan and also has ongoing developments of new cities in India, Indonesia and Vietnam. The Egyptian capital is the company’s first project in Africa.