Egypt reveals plans for $45bn new capital city

Captial City Partners Development to be the size of Singapore, with homes for seven million people and own international airport

The existing city (left), with a rendering of the new city (right). Image: developers.
The existing city (left), with a rendering of the new city (right). Image: developers.

Egyptian officials have announced plans to build a new administrative and business capital east of Cairo as part of President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi’s economic turnaround drive in a joint venture with the UAE.

The new capital will be developed on a land area of around 700km2 – around 12 times the size of Manhattan Island —located between Cairo and the Red Sea.

Officials hope the development will accommodate seven million people and create 1.75 million jobs, according to documentation made available at an economic summit in the coastal resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The move could relieve some pressure on Cairo where the metropolitan population is straining the city’s congested infrastructure. That is further complicated with an anticipated boom in population form 18 million to 40 million by 2050.

The UAE is set to be a partner in the development, which will be led by Capital City Partners, which describes itself as a private fund of global investors that will cooperate with the Egyptian Ministry of Housing.

Egypt's investment minister Ashraf Salman said the project would be entirely funded by private investors. "The government will incur zero cost in the city, and this will be totally developed, masterplanned and executed by a private sector company – a developer from the Gulf.”

According to a UK newspaper the project is based on an election pledge by the president, who last year promised to extend Cairo to the Red Sea port of Suez if voted into power.

The proposed city would have "large green spaces, an international airport, a theme park seven times bigger than Disneyland in California, 90 square kilometres of solar farms, and an electric train" to link with Cairo, according to Egypt’s housing minister Mustafa Kamel Madbuli.

The project will be led by self-made UAE billionaire Mohammed Alabbar, whose company built the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, in Dubai, and is constructing an even more expensive megapolis, the King Abdullah Economic City, in Saudi Arabia.

"It is a wonderful opportunity to be able to design something from scratch, and to design it keeping in mind the needs of the Egyptian people and the Egyptian government," Alabbar told the BBC, promising that the new development will be a source of “national pride” for Egypt’s 80-million strong population.

Plans to move the government, embassies and business headquarters out of the polluted and crowded Cairo first surfaced last year, and earlier this month investment minister Ashraf Salman divulged more details, saying the government would “incur zero cost” in the project, which is now valued at about USD45 billion.

The announcement also follows the signing of a trilateral economic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC) in Sharm El Sheikh by the United Arab Emirates, Arab Republic of Egypt and the Republic of France.

The MoU is focused on stimulating private sector investment in a number of priority sectors that have been identified by Egypt; including energy, infrastructure, transportation, information technology and communications, with a particular focus on encouraging environmental best practices.

The MoU was signed by Dr. Najla Al Ahwany, Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation, Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Mrs Anne-Marie Idrac, Special Representative of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development for Trade.

Dr. Sultan Al Jaber said: "We are delighted to sign this trilateral memorandum between the UAE, Egypt, France. This move reflects our collective understanding of the strategic importance of Egypt’s stability."

On her part, Dr. Najla Al Ahwani said: "The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding is yet another indication of the UAE’s commitment to supporting Egypt’s economy and ensuring its long term sustainability."

She pointed out that Egypt will seek to benefit from the fruits of this cooperation especially in areas that contribute to the support of the Egyptian economy and achieve sustainable development, adding,"I want to thank both the UAE and France for this partnership that will heed great results for all parties involved."

According to the memorandum, which includes an assessment of joint UAE/France collaboration in Egypt, all parties will aim to include private sector involvement in the designated sectors. The UAE and Egypt are keen to explore ways to collaborate on improving the transportation infrastructure, particularly, for governorates and urban areas.

France has supported the Cairo Metro project for more than thirty years and as such has also expressed interest in the soon to be tendered third metro project.

The MoU also includes a study on a UAE/France renewable energy program in Egypt that aims to produce 20% of Egypt’s electricity needs from renewables by 2020.

Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, will play an important role in the trilateral cooperation by utilising its expertise in solar and wind energy; while the UAE and France will collaborate on ways to support Egypt’s promising goal of energy efficiency and the adoption of clean technology and reducing its carbon emissions for a sustainable environment.


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