Greater Cairo Goes ‘Back To The Future’

Greater Cairo Goes ‘Back To The Future’

Amid plans of establishing new cities, the Egyptian government remains keen on developing old ones, especially Cairo, and returning it to its past glory of the 20th century. Invest-Gate displays the latest developments the government undertook in Cairo to give you the current complete picture of its latest renovations. Cairo is going back to its glorious days of the early 20th Century in the very near future. 


A Sufficient Budget For The Necessary Improvement

According to a previous statement of the Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise Development Agency (MSMEDA), a plan has been set in place to develop four areas in the Cairo and Giza governorates, with an estimated value of EGP 260 mn.

Allocating a sufficient budget for the improvement is very noticeable. The project aims to improve these areas, in multiple aspects such as the renovation of the infrastructure and enriching the livelihood of the residents by establishing new schools and green yards, for example. Not to mention, the work in downtown Cairo aims to preserve the European- design of the buildings and return to be “Paris of the East” as once intended by Khedive Ismail back in 1863.

Chairman of the Real Estate Development Tarek Shoukry says, “The intention is to turn some districts such as downtown Cairo into a touristic area to raise the investments, which will definitely reflect on the income of the country in the end.”

Back in April 2019, the government had set a plan to assign the renewal of 150 historic dilapidated buildings to the private sector, according to a previous statement of former Minister of Public Enterprise Sector Hesham Tawfik. The decision came as a part of a government program to save the classic buildings throughout Egypt.

Regarding revenue, upgrading the Capital has many aspects as it isn’t only limited to renewing buildings or preserving the heritage of old Cairo, but it also means getting a decent income. Chairman of the Real Estate Development Chamber agrees and tells Invest-Gate, “The government sets a plan to develop some areas in Cairo such as Heliopolis, Maspero, Magra El-Oyoun, with an aim to ease the traffic in these districts whilst establishing new ones. Besides, the renewal of the outdated areas will earn the country a good return.” 

“Renewing districts means upgrading everything, which will certainly influence the economy and tourism,” he adds.

In terms of the chamber’s role in the plan, he pinpoints, chamber members’ work on the projects as the state allots it to them as they participate according to the government’s demands.


A Tour Across Cairo’s Vital Districts

The ultimate goal of the government plans in Cairo is to renew the old capital by reducing the traffic congestion all while upgrading all the city’s services.

Starting with Heliopolis, a district, which was recently renewed to preserve its beauty dating back to 1905, Heliopolis lately witnessed a major change in its infrastructure, which aims at easing traffic and increasing investment.

Aqar Zelo CEO Amjad Maged sees that the renewal has a good impact on the area as it changed the shape of the streets and made them wider. Plus, it will increase investments in the area through selling more houses at good prices. He also adds that commercially, the renewal will allow more investors to open new branches and shops in the area as well. 

On the other hand, residents are concerned about the new infrastructure of the area. Fady Waheed, 28, one of the residents of Heliopolis, who has been living his whole life in Heliopolis tells Invest-Gate, “I don’t think that the new construction of the area has changed for the better. It has a lot of problems, such as congestion besides accidents as there is no space for pedestrians.” He continues, “Now it takes me longer to reach home than before, and I don’t think this is an improvement.” 

Moving on to downtown Cairo, the highlight of this renovation program, this large area has multiple elements as the plan is to preserve its heritage and antiquated buildings. Therefore, the Egyptian government and the Ministry of Antiquities set a plan to revive downtown’s historic character, plus rescue the district from deterioration. 

Reviving downtown Cairo is multifold because of the multiple ownership of the buildings there. Last year, Al-Ahram reported that several sectors contribute to the renovation of downtown Cairo such as Misr Insurance Holding Company, which owns over 100 buildings in the district, El-Sewedy, which owns a major building, along with a few banks.

Concurrently, Ayman Soliman, CEO of the Sovereign Fund of Egypt previously told Reuters that the newly-introduced Sovereign Wealth Fund (aka Tharaa) took proprietary rights of buildings across downtown Cairo, which are owned by the state insurance company and various other state agencies, in order to be leased to private owners. 

Furthermore, Al-Ismailia for Real Estate Investment owns 22 Downtown neighborhood buildings, and has set aside EGP 125 mn for renovation works.

Old Cairo is part of the big plan as well. The Sovereign Wealth Fund is currently working on improving the historical neighborhood of Bab al-Azab below the Cairo Citadel in cooperation with a private company. Several reports claimed that Sur Magra El Oyoun, is to be reopened to the public soon. Back in September, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly made an on-site inspection and revealed, “We have a historic opportunity to revamp Cairo in line with the instructions of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in this regard that entail compensating those affected with residential units.” According to the state announcement back in September 2019, “the renovation of Sur Magra El-Oyoun area included removing 1,076 facilities and 454 residential buildings, while 771 families have been resettled.”


Unplanned Areas 

The renovation’s plan also comprises unplanned areas to improve the civil urbanism, Executive Director of the Development Fund for Slums Khaled Siddiq tells Invest-Gate. 

“We work on 221 cities across Egypt with a total surface of 417,000 acres, 160,000 of which are unplanned thus we restore these areas by building new networks plus roads,” Siddiq explains. “The total budget of the project is EGP 650 bn to finalize all the improvement of the areas by 2030,” he concludes.




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