It’s not often that you hear of a country constructing brand new cities from the ground up, but Egypt plans to do precisely this in 45 different locations over the next several years. Such a project might sound overly ambitious, but the Egyptian government contends that such a bold initiative is necessary due to the rapidly increasing population, the over-concentration of people in central Cairo, and the need to generate new jobs.
This ambitious development project dates back to 2014 when the Egyptian government launched the first phase of construction on El Galala Plateau, one of the first cities in the initiative, which also coincided with the ascension of Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi as Egypt’s new president.
Plans to build more new cities all over the country soon followed the original 2014 El Galala announcement, including news of the new capital city in 2015 (the building of which began in 2016) and the decree to start building New Alamein City in 2017 on Egypt’s northern Mediterranean coast.
However, it wasn’t until the Fifth Real Estate Development Conference in September 2021 that undersecretary of the Ministry of Housing for National Projects Khaled Abbas revealed the government’s plans to build a total of 45 of these new cities, among other ambitious initiatives.
History in the Making
The largest and most audacious of these new mega-projects involves the construction of a modern new capital city built from the ground up in the middle of the Eastern Desert. In moving the seat of government out of Cairo, Egypt will be breaking with more than 1,000 years of history when the new metropolis, currently referred to as the “New Administrative Capital,” is finally inaugurated.
Although delays have plagued many constructions projects across the country and all over the world for the past several years, progress with Egypt’s new smart cities continues full steam ahead. In fact, the new capital city is already seeing some government offices make the move from central Cairo even while construction is ongoing, with more offices, full ministries, embassies, and private businesses expected to follow suit very soon.
President Sisi, who has proved to be as ambitious in building Egypt’s future as he is in preserving and highlighting its ancient past, has stressed that the investment in and focus on the new capital and new smart cities does not mean that older areas of Egypt are going to be left behind.
“We are not leaving Cairo, or Alexandria or Port Said or other provinces,” the president said in remarks about the new cities last year. “We are moving forward with the old and the new together.”
Sustainable, Practical, and Glamorous
Perhaps the most crucial element of these new cities will be their focus on sustainability. Each new city will be eco-friendly, rely primarily on renewable energy, and ensure water access through desalination and other renewable resource design elements. But while these projects continue to maintain a focus on practicality , livability, and sustainability, there is also a more glamorous side to some of them as well. New Alamein City, for example, is set to become the “icon of the Mediterranean” and a “New Riviera” thanks to its plans to host luxurious hotels, a yacht marina, sports clubs, an international tourism center, and more.
Like many developing nations, Egypt’s population growth is very much still roaring. The country is currently home to more than 105 million people, and this figure is projected to grow to 180 million by 2052.
In addition to the housing demands that this group will place on Egypt, these demographic trends will result in a youthful population that prefers urban centers for better work, entertainment, and social options.
Egypt on the Rise
Although Egypt already has some of the world’s more sprawling urban settlements, even these will not have the capacity to support so many people. With the construction of these new cities, the country hopes to be better equipped to provide more affordable and stable housing for its large lower-income population.
Meanwhile, higher-end new developments with modern homes, luxury shops, trendy restaurants, and other glamorous amenities will help to satiate the demand from Egypt’s growing middle and upper classes, including a burgeoning entrepreneurial class that hopes to help carry the country forward into the future.