Egypt is racing to prepare a grandiose new capital city in the desert east of Cairo before the first civil servants move in this summer and ahead of the delayed official opening of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s flagship project.
At the heart of the city, workers are putting finishing touches to an avenue of ministries that echo the architecture of pharaonic temples and adjoin a raised Islamic complex, two domed parliament buildings and a sprawling presidential compound.
There will be a monorail passing through a business district where a 385-metre central tower is close to completion. Beyond, the contours of a 10km park stretching to a giant mosque are taking shape.
The city, known simply as the New Administrative Capital, is designed to operate with smart technology on virgin land away from the clutter and chaos of Cairo. It will boast universities, leisure facilities and a diplomatic quarter.
But it has made halting progress, and after Emirati funding fell through shortly after it was announced in 2015, the military and government took on the estimated $25 billion cost of the first phase, injecting off-budget investment.
Some foreign loans and financing have been secured.
“The rate of completion of the first phase has passed 60% across all projects,” said Khaled el-Husseiny, spokesman for the new capital.
He added that the delayed transfer of civil servants would begin in July, ahead of an official opening planned for the end of 2021.