Why is Egypt building a new capital?
Egyptians have made their mark on the history of the world for the richness of their culture and the exquisite nature of their architecture. They have shown the world they are adept at their craft for over a thousand years.
However, the irony for the Egyptians is that their present capital city, despite its rich history and culture, is often regarded as one of the world's most chaotic and disorganised cities.
For the Egyptian government, it seemed to be a problem that needed fixing, as the capital city was facing an ever-growing population, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to conduct all these administrative responsibilities in Cairo. That's why the Egyptian government has undertaken the construction of a new capital city for the country.
The new capital is about 45 kilometres away from Cairo, with a secretariat, shopping mall, presidential palace, and hospitals already under construction in the new capital city. It has been under construction since 2015. The idea of establishing a new capital was first proposed by Hosne Mubarak, an ex-dictator of Egypt. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, the current dictator of the country, executed the first phase of the idea.
The estimated cost for establishing the new capital was supposed to be about 57 billion dollars, which was supposed to come from various national and international sources. However, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the scenario for the better, with Russia-Ukraine being another catalyst in bringing about an economic downturn for Egypt and the entire world.
Egypt has already taken three loans from the IMF in the last six years. As the current Egyptian economy is going through a liquidity crisis, construction is becoming more and more difficult. However, the construction of the new capital will benefit the Egyptian Armed Forces most, as the company that has been given the responsibility is mostly owned by the Armed Forces of Egypt.
The new capital is also supposed to host three universities, world-class highways, and the largest mosque in Africa.
Critics have considered this move by the Egyptian government to be appealing to both the populist cause and their motive to shift the country's ruling class from the jam-packed and bustling atmosphere of Cairo to a relatively serene environment.
Egypt's move to replace a much-known global city with a new artificial capital is not the first in the world; Brazil and Pakistan both shifted their capital cities to Brasilia and Islamabad, which were artificially created rather than organically grown in these respective places.
As the move by the government of Egypt is historic, only time will tell whether this move will turn out to be a success in the long run.