Why is Egypt poor

Capital Cairo construction projectEgypt ostentatious Mega metropolis just For Rich

Anyone who drives past the slums in the Egyptian capital Cairo ends up at the construction site of "Capital Cairo". The 45 billion building project is to become a kind of new capital - but only for the rich. It exacerbates the already large gap between rich and poor in Egypt.

On a huge construction site in the middle of nowhere, construction cranes and the first large buildings stretch into the sky. The project with the name "Capital Cairo" is supposed to become a new capital: "A futuristic mega-metropolis, about 50 kilometers away from chaotic, dirty and overpopulated Cairo", explains ARD correspondent Martin Durm.

The official reason given for the construction of the new mega city is that it should relieve Cairo, reports Martin. 20 million people live there, and relief is urgently needed. But there is criticism of the current implementation. This is only a relief for the Egyptian elite: government politicians, high-ranking military officials and entrepreneurs should move there.

"Unofficially, Cairo Capital is only supposed to relieve a certain layer of Egyptians: the rich and the elite."
Martin Durm, ARD correspondent for Egypt

When designing the buildings, the architects not only rely on pomp, but also on sustainable energy concepts. It is questionable whether the plan for the desert city, which is being driven primarily by President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi, will really work, says Martin Durm. Many such desert city projects have already been abandoned.

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Our correspondent says there will probably be no room for the poorer part of the population in the new city. It is more like a gated community and has been developed with special security measures. Poor Egyptians are more likely to have the role of servants. They would not be able to afford a self-sufficient life in this new Cairo designed for the wealthy.

Prestige project of the president

"The prices are extremely high. So high that only a select class of Egyptians could live there," says Martin. Roughly estimated, this affects at most 1 million of the 100 million strong Egyptian population.

For President Sisi, Capitol Cairo is a prestige project. There is no specific information on exactly how expensive the new megacity will be, explains Martin. The figure of 45 million dollars is in circulation, but often only a two-digit billion sum is mentioned.

"It is also unclear whether Egypt can even raise the money. Because it is one of the poorer countries - even if there is astonishing economic growth."
Martin Durm, ARD correspondent for Egypt

It is unclear whether the country can even afford this mega project. However, the financial situation in Egypt is not that easy to see through, says Martin. In the last year there has been enormous economic growth, supported by a billion dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund. However, this success does not necessarily go down well with the population.

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Many people feel that they are paying for the growth, while at the same time many subsidies for food, electricity and gas are being cut. "Many Egyptians are impoverished," said Martin. The billion-dollar project is exacerbating the already large gap between rich and poor. At the same time, President Sisi sees himself as a kind of patron saint of the poor. But, according to the correspondent, the slum area of ​​Cairo, a life in rubbish and misery, shows that money is urgently needed, especially in the fight against poverty in Egypt.