Luxury hotels, upscale residential neighborhoods, a modern airport, a 345-meter tower … Egypt hopes to impress the world with its new capital in the desert, a project yet far from unanimous.
“We have a dream,” a very urgent dream to go outside the administrative capital and outside of Cairo, and right now we are realizing that dream’‘ says Khaled El Husseiny, who is charged by the authorities with presenting the site to about 15 foreign journalists during an official visit.
Some 45 kilometers east of Cairo, between the Suez and Ain Sokhna roads, a few trucks are working on new tracks that wind through a vast expanse of almost virgin sand.
We had a dream, a very urgent dream to go outside the administrative capital and outside of Cairo, and right now we are realizing that dream.
On the site of the future headquarters of the Council of Ministers, the workers are working on the construction of what will be the government district, supposedly to house the presidential palace, the Parliament, 32 ministries and several embassies.
“I work more than twelve hours a day on this bogus shipyard where no one comes to see us,” says one of them, the complexion and a mask wrapped around the head to protect the sun.
“Do you want to go on TV?” “Then go back to work!” Exclaims the foreman furiously.
Announced in 2015 by President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, this new capital officially entered in October in its first phase of design. Of about 170 km2, it is expected to be partly operational by 2019 and gradually accommodate more than 6 million inhabitants.
The authorities say they want to respond to the overcrowding in Cairo, known for its endless traffic jams. With its 18 million inhabitants, Greater Cairo should see its population increase to 40 million by 2050, according to official figures.