President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has directed the government to begin a six-month trial period of working from the new complex starting Dec. 1, according to his spokesman, Bassam Radi.
The city is the biggest of the mega-projects el-Sissi has launched since taking office in 2014. It is being built on 170,000 acres about 28 miles (about 45 kilometers) east of Cairo and nearly twice its size. The cost to build the new city is estimated to be 45 billion U.S. dollars. An estimated 6.5 million people will live there.
Critics have called the new capital a vanity project, arguing its cost could have been better put to rebuilding the wrecked economy and refurbishing Cairo.
But the government has argued that the new capital is needed to absorb the booming population of Cairo, which will double to 40 million by 2050. The president also said that the new capital, and other projects ranging from new roads and housing complexes to a Suez Canal expansion, attract investors and create jobs for the country’s more than 100 million people.
The city will house the presidency, Cabinet, Parliament, and ministries. Planners promise a 21-mile-long public park, an airport, an opera house, a sports complex, and 20 skyscrapers, including Africa’s highest, at 345 meters (about 1,132 feet).
The state-run Al-Ahram daily reported that the government had planned to relocate 52,300 government employees to the new capital by mid-2020, but its plans were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Al-Sisi said earlier this year that moving the government to the new capital would “herald a new ear of modern government work.” He was referring to the advanced technology used to build government offices there.