Egypt's housing minister on Tuesday acknowledged "complications" in contract negotiations with the investment fund expected to lead development of a new administrative capital east of Cairo.
Mustafa Madbouly declined to speak in detail about the talks, which began after Capital City Partners (CCP) signed an initial agreement for the mega-project at a March economic summit in Egypt.
"There are very many complications. We are still in the negotiations stage for this project," Madbouly said on the sidelines of a business conference in Cairo, adding the negotiations were "very sensitive".
When asked about reports that UAE businessman Mohamed Alabbar, the founding partner of CCP, did not want the government to have a 24 percent share in the project, Madbouly told Al Arabiya television: "The memorandum of understanding includes this issue. This is what was signed, and we cannot change anything in it. All the talk is just speculation, but until now we are still in the negotiation stage."
CCP was not immediately available for comment.
The new capital is one of a series of mega-projects announced by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to attract foreign investment and create jobs in a country with a booming population of 90 million.
The proposed city, which Egypt plans to build within five to seven years at a cost of $45 billion, has been criticised by some Egyptians and outside observers as unnecessary and ill-conceived.
The project, planned to be the size of Singapore, is set to include an airport larger than London's Heathrow, a building taller than Paris's Eiffel Tower, and more than 10,000 km (6,200 miles) of boulevards, avenues and streets.