Next-gen living: A national campaign is under way to create the fourth generation of new cities to boost quality of life and alleviate urban strain

The development of a fourth generation of cities across Egypt – including the New Administrative Capital (NAC), New Alamein and New Aswan City – will be a key driver of construction activity in the coming years. These developments are expected to raise the competitiveness of the local market, enhance living standards and generate employment opportunities.

New Cities

The new cities programme dates back to the 1970s. The current phase of development, the so-called fourth generation of cities, was announced in 2018 shortly after the country’s population surpassed 100m. Developments will leverage advanced, eco-friendly technologies such as smart utilities and include green spaces. Moreover, these cities will feature upgraded education facilities: this should help attract younger residents and nurture a knowledge-based economy. As of September 2021, 37 new cities were under planning or development – and 24 existing cities were undergoing smart city regeneration. In addition to the NAC, New Alamein and New Aswan City, new cities are planned in Assiut, Beheira, Beni Suef, Dakahlia, Giza, Luxor, Marsa Matrouh, Minya, North Sinai, Port Said and Qena, among others. This level of activity bodes well for local contractors. “The development of mega-cities across Egypt will continue in the coming years, guaranteeing a solid level of demand for subcontractors in the local market,” Ahmed Hafez, CEO of Ideal Standard, told OBG.

Capital Shift

The focal point of Egypt’s ambitious urban agenda is the $60bn NAC, located some 35 km east of Cairo. The project was announced in 2015 to relieve the burden on the current capital. The new city will house government ministries; create housing for the growing population; and offer a better quality of life through enhanced infrastructure and sustainable urban planning. It will integrate smart city technologies, including 6000 cameras to help regulate traffic flow.

The government district is part of the first phase of development, which will also feature commercial and downtown districts. This phase is expected be completed by 2030. In December 2021 government offices began shifting to the NAC and the Cabinet held its first meeting there later that month.

The NAC’s central business district will feature 20 towers, including two skyscrapers. The first of these was completed in May 2021 and is the tallest building in Africa. The 80-floor, 385-metre Iconic Tower was built at a cost of $3bn. The tower will be overtaken upon completion of a second skyscraper, expected in 2030. The 1000-metre-high Oblisco Capitale aims to be the tallest structure in the world, and has been designed to look like a pharaonic obelisk. The development of both are expected to not only create jobs, but also add to the international reputation and appeal of the new city.

National Campaign

Egypt’s second-largest fourth-generation city, New Alamein on the Mediterranean coast, has been under development since 2018. The city will accommodate 3m people and, much like the NAC, will include towers, skyscrapers and eco-city features, as well as a national university with a number of applied science faculties. Contracts for the first phase of the city, slated for completion by 2025, total LE220bn ($14bn). The authorities are looking to position New Alamein as a centre for tourism, education and government services. The project was also allocated LE25bn ($1.6bn) by the New Urban Communities Authority for FY 2021/22. The entertainment section of the city – including restaurants and shopping centres – is expected to be fully operational by summer 2022.

Meanwhile, New Aswan City will be located on the west bank of the Nile, 12 km from Egypt’s southernmost city. It will have 850,000 residents and be built at a cost of LE2.3bn ($146.1m) upon completion in 2023. The first phase will include recreational areas, cultural facilities and 558,000 sq metres of green space. This underscores the commitment to sustainable living for communities and for the environment in line with the sustainability principles outlined in Egypt Vision 2030.