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New city designed by SOM to bring “pride and inspiration” to young Egyptians.

May 2015

The international economic conference at Sharm El Sheikh had been announced several months earlier, but when it finally began in mid-March, the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi had a surprise for the multinational business and political leaders ready to hear about new prospects for investment opportunities in the Egyptian economy.

Right at the opening of the three-day event, Housing Minister Mostafa Madbouly unveiled something unexpected: Plans for a new capital city – thus far unnamed and known only as THE CAPITAL CAIRO.

The goal Madbouly explained is to ease the population burden of Cairo, which has been the capital of Egypt for more than one thousand years. Cairo’s population today is estimated at 18-20 million. The city’s own website says it is expected to double by 2050. Even at today’s numbers, traffic is barely controllable, and thousands of people live on the fringes of homelessness.

Whatever name is eventually selected, THE CAPITAL CAIRO will be the largest planned city in history. First it will develop east from the current capital with 105 kilometres (60 miles) of new construction including government offices, diplomatic missions and housing, universities, a technology and innovation center, and 10,000 kilometres (6000 miles) of new roads. In fact, Madhouly said that work on the road from Cairo to the future administrative center has already begun.

The plan which includes expanding the city up to the Suez Canal zone will be viewed with “pride and inspiration” by young Egyptians, the Housing Minister said. It includes “an international airport, a theme park four times bigger than Disneyland in California, 90 square kilometres of solar farms, and an electric train” to link the new capital with Cairo.

According to the Cairo city website, “the master plan is to create a global city with smart infrastructure for Egypt’s future, which will provide a multitude of economic opportunities and offer a distinct quality of life.”


As part of the Egyptian government’s development strategies, the vision for THE CAPITAL CAIRO is a product of the collaboration of the Egyptian Ministry of Housing and Capital City Partners Ltd, a private fund of global investors, aided by the internationally renowned design firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM).

Led by Phillip Enquist, SOM Partner in Charge of Urban Design and Planning, Daniel Ringelstein, Director of Urban Design and Planning, and George J. Efstathiou, SOM Consulting Partner, SOM city planners developed the initial framework and core principles of a sustainable new city.

Designed in harmony with the local environment and shaped by the natural landscape, the vision for this new city was created to specifically meet the needs of a modern city with a burgeoning economy.

Approximately 700 square kilometers in area, with 200 square kilometers of preserved natural areas and one of the largest city park systems in the world, THE CAPITAL CAIRO will be tied to historic Cairo through extensive public transit links.

The city vision allows for flexibility to respond and adapt to the regional economic trends over the course of many decades. The vision has been carefully planned to accommodate a growing population, from over seven million people across all income groups, when fully realized.

“While we are at the earliest stages of design, the new city will be built on core principles that include places of education, economic opportunity, and quality of life for Egypt’s youthful population,” said Philip Enquist. “The new city will be designed and built in harmony with nature as a showcase of environmentally sensitive development.”

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