Miracle, or mirage?


The best guess on how long it took to build each of the Egyptian pyramids is about 20 years. The country’s modern-day pharaohs want a much faster job for their new capital east of Cairo. So enter the Chinese, or more specifically China Fortune Land Development, which has just signed a $20 billion deal for the construction of homes and offices in the unnamed city.

China State Construction Engineering Corporation is said to have agreed another $15 billion contract to build the government quarters, a trade fair zone and Africa’s largest conference centre.

Opponents of the mega project ask how Egypt can afford it. But the Egyptian authorities say that Cairo is too chaotic and too congested, and that the experience of Turkey, India and Brazil shows that capitals can be successfully relocated.

WiC wonders whether the realities of the plan will live up to its rhetoric, however. The prospectus is said to talk about an airport larger than London’s Heathrow, buildings taller than the Eiffel Tower, and an amusement park that’s bigger than Disney World.

Perhaps we are too pessimistic on the project’s prospects. Historians still marvel at the architectural achievements of the ancient Egyptians, after all…

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