Until quite recently, the majority of Egypt’s population lived on seven per cent of the land, with increasing the amount given over to urban development being a key goal of national plans for development. Efforts started with a new road network to connect the country’s cities with one another followed by the building of fourth-generation cities that will provide living areas and services for all social brackets.
The plans are being implemented not by building on agricultural land, but by expanding in new areas that are promising for their natural resources and economic infrastructure that can generate job opportunities to encourage people to move. One such new city is New Alamein, which is scheduled to become a fourth-generation city functioning not only as a summer retreat on the North Coast overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, but also to be the home of thriving tourism, industry, and housing compounds.
The goal is in line with Egypt’s Vision 2030 Strategy for sustainable development and the country’s efforts to improve the livelihoods of all Egyptians. “New Alamein is based on the idea of creating a touristic, residential, agricultural, and industrial city that operates all year round,” Wael Samir, chair of the New Alamein City Authority, told Al-Ahram Weekly.
“The city is the starting point to urbanising the North Coast beginning with New Alamein, and it will be built in several phases on a total of 148,000 feddans of land,” he added. The first phase of the city is being constructed on 23,000 feddans of land, and projects are divided into a 14km public promenade reminiscent of the Alexandria Corniche, half of which has now been finished, 15 residential and administrative towers, various villas built on artificial islands, and residential neighbourhoods catering for different social strata.
The neighbourhoods include luxurious housing, apartments for middle-income families, Downtown buildings, and a traditionally designed “Latin District”. “Taken together, these neighbourhoods include 31,356 housing units, in addition to the residential towers,” Samir noted.
“Work is now afoot to construct 35 residential buildings comprising 840 units as part of the luxury housing development, 128 buildings, or 4,096 units, as middle-income housing, and 40 buildings with 1,320 fully-finished units in the Downtown area. This project includes swimming pools, spas, a plaza, stores, and administrative units,” Samir said, adding that the second phase of this project was planned on an area of 50,000 square metres.
“The Downtown apartments range in size from 90 to 300 square metres, and some 90 per cent of them, together with the spas, stores, and the administrative and service areas, have already been completed by 3,000 workers working around the clock,” Mohamed Saad, head of the Downtown office at New Alamein City, told the Weekly.
Samir said that the city’s residential compound project is located opposite to the area allocated for the beach towers. It is erected on a group of artificial islands, each with a beachfront of 2km and a number of villas. “They all overlook the main yacht harbour, and you can move between them via bridges built over lakes with breathtaking views that match those in Venice,” he added.
“The compound extends over 700 feddans of land and includes 12,500 villas, chalets, and apartments. The concrete structure of the 15 44-storey residential towers on the beach has been completed, and the finishing and installation of the glass facades of the towers is underway. The concrete structure of three other towers with heights ranging from 100 to 170 metres is being built, while the towers area also houses a commercial services zone and swimming pools for the residents of each tower.”
“Tenders are being drafted for the construction of five other towers in the beach area, which is currently named the Marina Alamein Towers,” Samir said, adding that “the city’s southern region is planned to host five towers built by a Chinese company. These are the Iconic Tower, with a height of 300 metres, and four other towers that will each be 60 metres tall.”
Building projects: At the beach towers site, the Weekly met with Mahmoud Shaltout, supervisor of the project to build the four towers.
He said that “construction work began in January 2018, and the concrete structure of the four towers was completed in September 2020. Each tower consists of a podium containing a parking lot, electrical and mechanical equipment, cafeterias, and swimming pools. Then there are 40 storeys comprising apartments ranging in size from 70 to 180 metres. Some 2,500 workers are presently finishing the interior decoration and façades to deliver the project in June 2022.”
Meanwhile, the concrete structure of buildings in the “Latin District” has also been finished and work is ongoing on final touches.
“One of the advantages of the general scheme for New Alamein City is that it adopts the old urban-planning style of Alexandria, which has been embodied in the Latin District as an extension of the architectural style of Alexandria. We have infused this style with a modern flavour to be in line with fourth-generation cities,” Shaltout said.
“The Latin District services use a smart network to operate security cameras and smart police services. It is built on an area of 404 feddans and comprises six neighbourhoods including 220 residential buildings containing 12,600 housing units with luxurious finishings and a services area.”
Mohamed Khalil, deputy chair of the New Alamein City Authority, added that the development had not neglected cultural heritage. “A fully-fledged zone has been built to revive the cultural heritage on an area of 260 feddans and comprising 70 heritage, cultural, and commercial buildings, as well as the main lake, a park, a mosque, a church, an opera house, a museum, hotels, a cinema complex, an open-air theatre, and luxury housing. These are all scheduled to be delivered by summer 2022,” he said.
The city’s entertainment zone enjoys an awe-inspiring view out over the Mediterranean and houses commercial malls and stores, a promenade, decorative fountains, and architecturally lavish columns. “The zone is built on 44 feddans of land opposite the towers and is served by four pedestrian tunnels. Ten buildings are operational, and 11 others will be finished shortly,” Khalil noted.
Many artificial lakes are being constructed in New Alamein. In the eastern part of the city, there will be four lakes on a total of 370 feddans of land, while the western lakes, which are about to be finished, are spread out over 178 feddans. All the lakes will be connected to the Mediterranean.
Samir said that more than 80,000 workers have been working on New Alamein projects. The city is not solely focused on residential and commercial buildings, he said, but also includes open-air seating areas, paths for bikes, and sports fields.
The services area includes schools and universities, such as the Arab Academy for Science and Technology which has been operating eight faculties for the past two years. There is also the new International Alamein University, spread over 128 feddans and constructed in three phases. The University includes 13 faculties, four residential buildings, an administrative building, and a library.
“Three college buildings are operational, the College of International Legal Studies, the College of Business Administration including the College of Engineering, and the College of Computing and Information Technology,” Samir said. The College of Graduate Studies and the College of Art and Design are being built.
“The city’s second phase includes University housing, the administration building, and the library, in addition to a branch of the Swiss University of Lausanne, which specialises in tourism. The third phase will be focused on medical education, but work has not begun on this yet,” he noted.
Ismail Abdel-Ghaffar, dean of the Arab Academy for Science and Technology, told the Weekly that the academy was the first university to have a branch in one of Egypt’s new cities and the only one currently operating in New Alamein.
“The academy opened a branch in New Alamein because it believes that the city is a new touristic capital on the Mediterranean and to support Egypt’s economic development. The Academy is opening new colleges that facilitate connections between the domestic and international markets,” Abdel-Ghaffar said.
He said the academy’s faculties include “colleges for dentistry, pharmaceutical sciences, artificial intelligence, engineering and technology, management, and transport and logistics. The College of Medicine has been opened in partnership with major international universities to keep pace with the Fourth Industrial Revolution and to build a new generation of smart universities in Egypt.”
The industrial zone of the new city has also been over-subscribed. “The construction of factories will begin in the near future, among them a petrochemicals factory that will constitute an industrial leap forward for Egypt and region, especially because of the area’s proximity to the Al-Hamra Port, which is being expanded to accommodate petroleum imports,” Abdel-Ghaffar said.
“A new electric high-speed train connecting Marsa Matrouh, New Alamein, the New Administrative Capital, and other new cities will incentivise trade and facilitate the transportation of goods.”
The New Alamein City Authority is working in accordance with a strategy meant to promote tourism. Over the past two years, the city has hosted Arab and African rowing, canoe, and kayak championships in the lakes area, Samir stated. “The authority altered the pattern of the lakes to comply with international standards and to enable the city to host international races and receive European teams to train on its lakes when their own lakes freeze during the winter,” he added.
“The city is also gearing up to launch the Alamein International Film Festival. The authority is collaborating with the Ministry of Culture in this regard, and the festival will be inaugurated once the Roman Amphitheatre and cinema complex are built,” Samir said.
Egypt is building new fourth-generation cities to reduce congestion in other areas, provide the services and activities the public need, generate job opportunities, and introduce the use of artificial intelligence in new smart cities in a manner in line with the state’s vision of the future.
“At present, there are 37 fourth-generation cities spread out over around 167,000 feddans of land, including 17 under construction, such as the New Administrative Capital, New Alamein, and New Mansoura. Plans are being drawn up for a further 14 new cities, such as New Suez, New Rosetta, and New Beni Mazar, while six cities are still in the planning phase, such as New Gerga, New Esna, and New Hurghada,” Walid Abbas, assistant to the minister of housing and supervisor of planning and projects at the New Urban Communities Authority, earlier told the Weekly.