Egypt unveils blueprints for new $45bn capital city

Plans for Egypt's new capital (Photo:

Plans for Egypt’s new capital (Photo:

Egypt has published official plans for a brand new capital city, located next to Cairo, which it says will be constructed with investment from Gulf states. The new city, which will house five million people, is expected to be built in under seven years.

“We are talking about a world capital,” housing minister
Mustafa Kamel Madbouli said during a press event at
Sharm-el-Sheikh, where the country is staging a high-profile
investment conference.

“The idea to build the new city originated from our awareness
that Cairo’s current population, 18 million, will double in the
next 40 years.”

Plans for Egypt's new capital (Photo:

While government officials have voiced conflicting figures on
details of the development, the official website
of the city – simply named ‘The Capital’ – shows plans for a
theme park seven times bigger than California’s Disneyland, an
inner-city airport larger than Heathrow, and 40,000 hotel rooms.
The 700 square kilometer city will be about the size of

Plans for Egypt's new capital (Photo:

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

“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.

Alabbar’s Capital City Partners group has promised that the new
city will be “sustainable,” with 90 square kilometers of
solar panels and an electric railway connecting it with the
current Egyptian capital.

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
in the project, which is now valued at about US$45

Salman predicted that the development would take 12 years, but
Madbouli said the city would be complete in five to seven years,
which would require a torrid pace of construction.

The announcement of the city plans at Sharm-el-Sheikh is not a
coincidence. The conference has been a means for the government
of Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi to forge ties, not just with Western
investors and politicians – John Kerry headed the US delegation –
but also with Gulf states. The region’s desert kingdoms pledged a
collective $12.5 billion to the Egyptian state, alongside plans
for a new capital.

“The aim is to put Egypt back on the map of international
investment, and send a message to the world that the country is
safe and attractive,”
said International Cooperation
Minister Naglaa al-Ahwani at the event.

Egypt suffered a collapse of its tourism industry following the
Arab Spring of 2011 and the instability that accompanied the
removal of long-time leader Hosni Mubarak and the tumultuous
leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Growth has been at a sluggish two percent per annum since 2011,
with the IMF predicting an increase to 4.3 percent per year in
2015-16. With a rapidly expanding population, Egypt’s GDP per
capita currently sits outside the top 100 countries in the world.

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