WASHINGTON — Over the weekend, Egypt unveiled plans to build a wholly new capital. The new city would lie somewhere to Cairo’s east, closer to the Red Sea. It would sprawl across some 150 square miles and potentially be home to as many as 7 million people. Projected to cost $45 billion, it was announced at a summit in the seaside resort of Sharm El-Sheikh aimed at boosting the country’s flagging economy.
A flashy Web site outlining the proposal hails it as “the catalyst for an Egyptian renaissance” and “a momentous endeavour to build national spirit, foster consensus and provide for the country’s sustainable long-term growth.” Cairo, Egypt’s teeming capital of 18 million people, is routinely criticized for its creaking infrastructure and horrendous traffic. The project would help ease congestion and overpopulation.
The proposed new city — which has no name yet — would be built in partnership with a prominent private developer from the United Arab Emirates and supposedly would take only five to seven years to complete, according to Egyptian Housing Minister Mostafa Madbouly. The economic summit where the project was announced attracted some $12 billion in investment pledges from an array of wealthy Gulf states.