Initiating the new capital

Ahmed Morsy , Wednesday 3 Apr 2024

The New Administrative Capital is officially the new seat of government.

The Egyptian parliament  new headquarters
The Egyptian parliament new headquarters


The Egyptian parliament on Tuesday held one of its most consequential sessions at its new headquarters in the New Administrative Capital, witnessing the inauguration of President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi for a third presidential term starting 3 April.

All members attended the session which also represented the official opening of the new headquarters constructed according to international standards and specifications.

The new headquarters represents a major achievement in modern governmental infrastructure, as it was built with locally made materials. According to the project’s general contractor, the Arab Contractors, the new parliament incorporates state-of-the-art technology, including the latest lighting, alarm, fire, and central air conditioning systems.

Over 108,659 square metres, the main hall of the parliament building can accommodate 1,000 members and has offices for 3,200 employees.

It boasts a lower dome made of steel 52 metres in diameter and an upper concrete dome measuring 57 metres.

After taking the oath of office, Al-Sisi presided over the first official parade and celebrations at the People’s Square in the new capital, which can accommodate 10,000 people.

According to the chairman of the Administrative Capital for Urban Development Company (ACUD) Khaled Abbas, the idea behind the People’s Square embodies the concept that “the people” are the highest authority in the state.

The People’s Square is located to the right of the executive authority headquarters (the Governmental District) and to the left of the legislative authority (the parliament and the Senate), with the Presidential Palace also nearby.

The square features the world’s tallest flagpole in its centre, 201.9 metres, according to the Guinness World Records.

The flagpole, said Abbas, is equipped with speakers for playing music in the evening, alongside the dancing fountain.

Moreover, the square includes an open-air theatre for organising events, emphasising that the philosophy of the New Administrative Capital lies in offering a better quality of life for citizens.

The square also features a central platform 360,000 square metres. It also includes a memorial Pharaonic-style monument located at the end of the square facing the Presidential Palace.

The names of Egypt’s martyrs across history are inscribed on the memorial.

The ceremonies were the initiation of the new capital. Al-Sisi had previously hailed the inauguration of the new capital and relocation of government employees as marking the “birth of a new republic” and “a new era of modern governmental work”.

Construction of the new capital, situated 60km from downtown Cairo, began in 2015. It covers 714 million square metres, twice the size of Cairo, and will accommodate 6.5 million residents upon completion.

In June 2022, the government approved a presidential decree redrawing Cairo’s eastern border to include 46,000 feddans of the new capital, including the site of the new headquarters of the parliament and Senate. The constitution requires both bodies within the borders of Cairo.

The 1.5 million square metre Government District comprises 10 ministerial complexes that house 34 ministries, the cabinet headquarters, the parliament, and the Senate.

Since the first half of 2023, most ministries relocated their headquarters to the new capital upon Al-Sisi’s directives in late 2021, initiating a gradual relocation to the Government District of the new capital. In November 2023, Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli stated that 48,108 employees had already relocated to the new capital.

Along with the Government District, the new capital also includes the Central Business District (CBD) that boasts 20 skyscrapers, including the 78-floor Iconic Tower, the tallest building in Africa.

It also hosts the Islamic Cultural Centre that comprises the Egypt Mosque, the world’s second largest mosque. This comes along with residential districts, an international airport, and exhibition and convention centres.

Additionally, the new capital features Central Park, dubbed the Green River. When complete, it will be “the largest city park in the Middle East and the second largest park worldwide,” according to the Arab Contractors, the construction company.

The Green River will be a central hub for the new capital, and a gathering place for the city’s neighbourhoods.

When complete, the Green River will include an Islamic-themed garden, a heritage park, an art park, and an educational garden for children, as well as several lakes, according to a cabinet statement.

President Al-Sisi previously stressed that the new capital has not been built with government funds and that ACUD is the owner and developer of the project.

The military owns 51 per cent of ACUD; 49 per cent is owned by the government-affiliated New Urban Communities Authority.

“Currently, ACUD is asking the state for an annual fee of LE4 billion for use of the government district in the new capital,” the president said in 2023.

Abbas reported that ACUD made profits of LE18.5 billion after taxes in 2022, and that the company’s assets were LE300 billion.

In late 2023, ACUD revealed its intention to offer up to 10 per cent of its shares on the Egyptian exchange in the first half of 2024.

To make it easier for government employees to reach their offices in the new capital, a light rail train (LRT) came into service in 2023. The 100 km LRT links Cairo with the New Administrative Capital. It was constructed by the Ministry of Transportation and a consortium of Egyptian companies. China’s CREC-AVIC INTL manufactured the trains, and France’s RATP Dev is responsible for the management and operation of the line.

A monorail, whose East Nile line’s first phase has been in experimental operation without passengers since November 2023, will supplement the LRT to link the new capital to Greater Cairo.

The monorail was initially set to open in 2023 but following delays in constructing the first line, the East Nile branch will commence operations by mid-2024. Eventually, the two-line monorail network will extend for almost 100 km serving 35 stations.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 4 April, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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