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City update: Cairo

by Sarah Blackman on Aug 4, 2009

 Mivida townhomes by Emaar Misr.
Mivida townhomes by Emaar Misr.

Egypt is one of the few countries in the Middle East where history is the main attraction.

It is known for The Nile, Egyptian Scrolls and the Pyramid of Khufu – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. And, while modern structures are rising from the desert sands throughout the GCC and regeneration takes place, old remnants can still be found in Egypt, which date back thousands of years.

The country’s capital city is no exception either. Dominated by Islamic architecture, Cairo has been aptly nicknamed The City of a Thousand Minarets. What’s more, it has provided a home for residents since the tenth century.

“Cairo is a city that has survived for centuries. Natural resources of survival as water and plantation are available in Cairo, which are not as accessible in the GCC,” Green Builders general manager Mohamed Nasreldin told Construction Week. 

But when it comes to the latest construction projects will it be out with the old and in with the new? The current development of New Cairo City suggests that the answer is yes, but this is actually an extension of the capital, being built to meet the demand of residential projects due to the rising population.

And, according to general manager of Cairo Festival City Mohamed El Mikawi, demand for housing is extremely high.

“Official estimates suggest that annual production will need to rise to a rate of 820,000 units a year in order to meet demand. At present, average annual production is estimated at 300,000,” he says.

“If we consider that an average of 500,000 marriages take place per year, we are also looking at 500,000 new people entering the housing market. The industry also employs about 11% of the Egyptian population so real estate is actually fuelling economic growth which it, in turn, benefits from.”

Centre for Planning and Architectural Studies business development manager Hoda Fawzi agrees that despite being ancient, Cairo is still a developing city: “Cairo is a new and fresh market for large scale residential, retail, and commercial projects,” he says. “With the economic downturn, more investors are directing their investments to the city.”

Barwa International is one developer that is currently implementing a project in New Cairo City. The development will feature several villages and contain villas, high-rise apartments, schools, mosques and health facilities.

The firm has planned to invest US $3.5 billion (EGP20 billion) into the project over the next eight years.