Egypt's new capital city moved a step closer to reality with the announcement that Chinese developers will largely fund the megaproject.
The China Fortune Land Development Company (CFLD) agreed to provide $20 billion for the currently unnamed city, after a meeting between heads of the firm and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi. This follows a previous commitment of $15 billion from another Chinese state-owned company, bringing the project close to its $45 billion budget requirements for phase I.
Plans for the new capital were first announced in March 2015. Government officials described the development as a solution to crowding, pollution and rising house prices in Cairo.
"Cairo Capital is a momentous endeavor to build national spirit, foster consensus, provide for long-term sustainable growth," said the project website. "(The) new city will create more places to live, work and visit."
The 700 square kilometer city to be constructed in the desert to the East of Cairo would become the new seat of government, and it is presented as a far grander vision than the current capital. Proposals for the city include housing for five million people, over 1,000 mosques, smart villages, industrial zones, a 5,000-seat conference center, and the world's largest park.
Interest in the project has been brisk. An Indian company is reportedly planning a vast medical center and university, while a Saudi firm intends to build a 12.6 hectare mosque and Islamic museum.
Construction is already under way. According to Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper, engineers have begun work on infrastructure including bridges and 210 kilometers of roads.
The first phase of the project will see government ministries and residential blocks rise from the sand. This phase could be complete within five years, with the first residents moving in.