Heritage in Cairo
President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi inaugurated the newly renovated Sayyeda Nafissa mosque. The work is part of a project to renovate the holy places of Islam (Ahl al-Bayt) (see April 2022 press review) and, more broadly, historic Cairo. The mosque reopened to the public on August 10. One of the goals is to boost religious tourism in Egypt. However, archaeologists criticized the renovation work, arguing that it denatures the site.
In early August, a fire broke out in the Ministry of Waqfs in downtown Cairo. The fire is believed to have been caused by an electrical short-circuit. Egypt Today documents the firefighters’ actions. The Ministry’s spokesman said no one was injured. The disaster raised questions about the preservation of the Ministry’s documents.
The destruction of tombs in the City of the Dead continues to animate social media. Bulldozers are now working in the Imam Shafi’i area. A beautiful text by Hussein Omar recounts the effect of the destruction of centuries-old tombs on families, and the importance of the City of the Dead in Egypt’s collective memory. In protest, legal action has been initiated, the association of Egyptian architects renewed its call to save the cemeteries, the Historic Cemeteries Evaluation Commission (see July 2023 Press Review) is considering resigning and a new request for parliamentary information has been submitted.
Now it’s the turn of the Darb1718 cultural center, founded in 2008 in Fustat, to be threatened with demolition to make way for a road linking the corniche to the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. The center’s founder, Moataz Nasr el-Din, lodged a complaint with the Council of State, and several MP, including Maha Abdel Nasser, are mobilizing to prevent the destruction. Other pottery and jewelry workshops in the area are also affected. Bab Masr talks to some of the potters.
As part of the redevelopment of Ramses Square, several heritage buildings, including the Egyptian State Railway, could be demolished.
In line with the news of recent years, several articles express concern about the destruction of green spaces in Cairo. The latest is the Roxy Garden in Heliopolis, which is meant to be transformed into a commercial space. Part of the garden had already been turned into a parking lot in 2019. Mada Masr looks back at the history of the garden and the mobilization of local residents. A number of associations are working to preserve parks and gardens throughout the country, which are also victims of pollution. For example, a litter-picking campaign took place in Alexandria’s Shalalat Park.
New Administrative Capital
Al-Manassa focuses on the business district of the New Administrative Capital. The district was financed by a $3 billion loan from China. The foundation stone for the towers was laid in 2018, but the project has fallen behind schedule, not least because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to the government, 13 private players have bought land to build skyscrapers.
Electricity power cuts
The news of August continues to be marked by power cuts (see July 2023 Press Review). The government has implemented an electricity management and rationalization plan. This plan includes a schedule of power cuts that only concerns residential buildings. Hospitals, service facilities and tourist areas are spared. Schedules by governorate are available on the government website. Citizens have been warned of the risk of fire, and asked to turn off their meters whenever the power is cut. Government employees who are not in direct contact with the public will have to work from home, and the private sector is invited to do likewise. From the second week of August, government employees began teleworking. Air conditioning will be limited to 25°C in public buildings. Illuminated billboards and commercial signs will be restricted. The government has made it clear that the blackouts have nothing to do with natural gas production, shifting the blame to climate change and rising temperatures. Nevertheless, Al-Manassa shows that this year’s temperatures remain within the average of the last four years and therefore cannot be blamed for the power cuts. The cuts and the rationalization plan could continue until September, or even mid-October. The power-cuts are having an impact on economic players. A member of parliament has called for the industrial town of Mahalla al-Kubra to be excluded from the rationalization plan, and fertilizer factories have also complained. The government quickly lifted the rationalization measures for these factories. In this context, the government also decided to postpone the rate increase to January 2024.
Cairo’s governor revealed a development plan for Maadi, including Street 9, which he hopes to develop on the model of Mamsha Ahl Masr.
A financing agreement has been signed with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank for the conversion of the Abu Qir railway line into an electric metro in Alexandria (see February 2023 Press Review). 100 million EGP were paid to compensate for the expropriations required for the project.
Egypt has obtained a loan of 64 million euros from two South Korean banks for the extension of line 3 of the Cairo metro.
Online reservations are once again possible on the Egyptian National Railway website. Tickets can also be purchased at Fawry agencies.
Al-Manassa reveals that the Egyptian National Railway will spend 1 billion Egyptian pounds building cement walls along the railroad tracks to prevent fraud. Within three years, 800 km of walls will be built.
The land on either side of Cairo’s Ring Road is offered in usufruct to the private sector for a period of 20 years.
Al-Manassa looks at the financing of transport infrastructure in Egypt and how it is being affected by the current economic crisis.
Alexandria’s Greco-Roman Museum prepares for reopening.
Voices are rising against the footbridge that will link the Grand Museum to the Pyramids plateau, pointing out that it could damage and denature the ancient site.
The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities is installing solar panels at several sites, including the Palace of Mohamed Ali in Manial, Cairo, the visitors’ center at the Pyramids of Giza, the Museum of Royal Jewels and the National Museum of Alexandria.
While the Christian festivities of August 15 are in full swing in Asyut, a huge statue of the Virgin Mary has been installed in the Virgin Mary Monastery in Dronka. The 9-metre-high statue stands on a 15-metre-high pedestal. It is one of the country’s religious tourism assets, being part of the recently UNESCO-listed Path of the Holy Family (see December 2022 press review) has been a major attraction for several months now.