Billed as smart city in the desert, boasting greenery and luxury housing, the government is set to relocate to the as-yet-unnamed city in 2019. But will anyone else move in?
Billboards promising another way of life have long clustered alongside the clogged highways of central Cairo. Advertisements for gated housing developments called “Regent’s Park”, “Beta Greens” or “Uptown” promise “360-degree greenery” and open spaces. One, on a busy and polluted central road, invites onlookers to “just breathe”.
The promise of escape from the congestion of central Cairo to a new life 40km away on the city’s outskirts is fetishised for those able to afford it. Nowhere is this more clear than on the billboards advertising real estate in “Entrada”, a housing and commercial property development in Egypt’s new administrative capital, which is currently without a name. “Welcome to a supreme community,” proclaims one. The development is touted by its creators as “the entrance to a new city, a new lifestyle, a new community and a new worldwide centre of attraction”.