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Cairo 2050: urban dream or modernist delusion?

Since the late 1960s, Cairo's urban development has been characterized by a rapid expansion of densely populated informal settlements ('ashwa'iyyat) that now house more than 60 percent of Cairo's population. In 2008, the Egyptian government began promoting Cairo 2050, a grandiose "vision" that aims to counter this phenomenon and transform Cairo into a global city like Paris or Tokyo. This article shows that attempts to redirect Cairo down this path of modernization would fail to resolve the city's urban challenges because they ignore realities on the ground. The article argues that informality and its associated high population density have offered solutions--though they are suboptimal--to resolving Cairo's urban challenges, and that implementing modernity from above will create more problems than solutions.

"This was the regime's 'urban dream': With skyscrapers and luxury developments replacing all the informal neighborhoods, and their working-class residents shunted to the desert, the busy, historic heart of Cairo, home to plenty of crumbling, informal housing of its own, would be remade as a sanitized tourist park."

Frederick Deknate (1)

Since the late 1960s, Cairo's urban development has been characterized by the rapid expansion of densely populated informal settlements, known as 'ashwa'iyyat ("haphazards" in Arabic). They were built without planning or construction permits, mostly on reclaimed agricultural land flanking inner Cairo. (2) The settlements are now home to more than 60 percent of Cairo's estimated seventeen million inhabitants and cover over half of the city's physical space. (3) In 2008 the Egyptian government began promoting "Cairo 2050," a series of mega-projects designed collaboratively by a large, international team of consultants intended to modernize Cairo and counter the city's informal urbanization. (4)

The plan would redistribute residents of informal areas to satellite towns in the desert in order to "even out" the population of the city and make space for elements of modernity like business parks, luxury hotels, tourism centers, office towers, recreational parks and wide boulevards. But why is there such a vision for Cairo? Inspired by global-city master plans like Sydney 2030, Paris 2020, Abu Dhabi 2030, Singapore 2050, Shanghai 2050, Tokyo 2050 and London 2066, the goal of Cairo's strategic plan is to replicate these models of modernity. For a number of reasons outlined in this article, Cairo 2050 is unlikely to materialize fully--at least in its proposed form--particularly in a postrevolutionary setting. Nevertheless, studying the plan is useful for understanding recent developments in Cairo and the Egyptian government's approach to urban planning, including its "continued penchant for the manufacture of unrealistic dreams." (5)

This article shows that the phenomenon of informality in Cairo, far from being an indication of underdevelopment, has been a rational response by Cairenes to population growth and housing shortages. Attempts to redirect the city onto the Cairo 2050 modernization path do not account for this and other realities on the ground. If pursued, they will not only fail to resolve Cairo's urban challenges, but will be detrimental to social equity, the environment and Egypt's cultural heritage. (6)

The first section of this article describes the Cairo 2050 study in more detail, its diagnosis of Cairo's urban problems--namely, informality (and associated high population density) and lack of "modernity" (with modernity defined as the urban state of affairs in global cries like Paris and Tokyo)--and its vision for moving forward. The second section of the article shows that informality and the lack of modernity should not be construed as problems, but as features of the city that emerged logically from the local context. Therefore, the Cairo 2050 plan to counter these phenomena cannot work, and implementing it would have disastrous consequences. The third and final section maps out possible ways forward.

Two points of clarification should be made before proceeding. First, this article is not arguing that plans to improve Cairo's urbanization are, in principle, wrong, and that the status quo is the best alternative and should be maintained. It is arguing that Cairo 2050's vision is flawed. The second point is, by extension, that this article is not meant to romanticize informal areas, but rather to show that the construction of these areas has been and continues to be rational, which should be recognized in any response to informal development. Hence, while the construction of informal areas should not be condemned, they have disadvantages that should be addressed.


Greater Cairo Region (GCR): Includes the governorates of Cairo, Giza and Qalyoubiya. Note that the Sixth of October governorate (seen in Figure 1 and Figure 2) and the Helwan governorate (seen in Figure 2) were reincorporated into the Cairo and Giza Governorates, respectively, in April 2011. (7) Throughout this article, "Cairo," "capital" and "city" are used synonymously with "Greater Cairo Region." The GCR has a population of approximately seventeen million people. (8)

Formal areas: Characterized by legal modes of urbanization. About five million people live in these areas.

Informal areas: Characterized by extra-legal modes of urbanization. About eleven million people live in these areas. (9)

New towns: These are towns that have been built in the desert around Cairo. Approximately 800,000 people live in these towns. (10) Throughout this article, "desert towns," "satellite towns" and "new towns" are used synonymously.


Cairo 2050 is a $3.5 million proposal that was commissioned by the Mubarak administration and was intended to be a new "Strategic Urban Development Plan" for the Greater Cairo Region. (11) The General Organization for Physical Planning spearheaded the effort under the aegis of the Ministry of Housing, Infrastructure and Urban Development. (12) A number of organizations collaborated on the project, including the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, the World Bank, the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency. (13) The idea behind the plan is that Cairo cannot continue on its current "flawed" development path if it is to become a modern global city.



Perceived Problems

According to the study, Cairo "has declined as a result of several problems: (1) High density in [the] inner-city; (2) Traffic congestion; (3) Environmental deterioration; (4) Informal development." (14) These are interlinked, with high population density--largely the result of informal development--leading to chaotic traffic, pollution and the construction of more informal housing. Informal development goes hand in hand with high density, causing the "maldistribution of population." (15) This contrasts with the more evenly distributed populations of Paris, New York and Tokyo, among others.

The comparison with other global cities is a leitmotif in Cairo 2050, indicating that the lack of modernity--defined as the extent of deviation from Western urban models--is also perceived as a fundamental obstacle to proper urban development. Informal development and its associated high population density and "maldistribution" are phenomena that deviate from Global North urban models; hence, they are antithetical to modernity and contribute to the "backward" state of Cairo's development.

Vision for the Future

To modernize Cairo and mitigate the problem of informal development and its associated high population density, Cairo 2050 envisions widely redistributing the population. This would entail removing some informal areas of Cairo entirely, and decongesting others by replacing built-up areas within them with wide boulevards, green open spaces and other design interventions. Ultimately, hundreds of thousands if not millions of inhabitants of informal areas would be forced to resettle, mostly in "new housing extensions" in the desert. (16)

This vision of a modern Cairo follows from the desire of consultants and government planners to mimic other global cities. Reducing informality is one way to do this. (17) They want Cairo to become "a super-modern, high-tech, green, and connected city that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the metropolises in the world's most advanced countries." (18)

As a result, the development plan includes a number of megaprojects, some designed by "starchitects" like Zaha Hadid, and calls for the widespread privatization of spaces and services, especially in real estate and tourism. (19) The Khufu Plaza Parks project aims to create a wide boulevard of parks and multilane avenues that would cut through the informal area of Boulaq el Dakrour. East of Cairo, the creation of a 1,900-acre finance and business center is on the agenda. A third project would establish a "tourism oasis" with two thousand hotel rooms and a tourism center with 3,200 rooms. Other plans include the creation of open-air museums in historic Cairo, the establishment of an international library, a number of technological universities, two international "medical cities" and the conversion of several cemeteries inhabited by informal settlers into green spaces and high-end development areas. (20)


The Logic of Informality

This section argues that informality and associated high population density have been a solution--albeit a suboptimal one--to Cairo's urban challenges, and that they are not a hindrance to further development. According to David Sims, Cairo has developed successfully as a megacity, having been able to grow "from four to seventeen million inhabitants in less than fifty years on its own, so to speak, counter to government intentions and plans.... This 'auto-development' has generated efficient neighbourhoods where two-thirds of all Cairenes live and almost half of them work, where housing is minimally acceptable and quite affordable, and where 'basic services,' which only government can provide, are surprisingly not bad." (21) informal processes in, among others, the subdivision of land, construction of housing, exchange of properties and operation of businesses--all of which are proscribed by law--have made this possible.

Informal construction in Cairo, the result of rapid population growth and an insufficient supply of affordable housing, began in the late 1960s. From 1960 to 2006, the number of inhabitants in informal areas jumped from nearly zero to about eleven million--that is, approximately 65 percent of the city's population. (22) During the same period, the population in formal areas expanded by about a million people, while the desert towns attracted only about 600,000. (23)

The Success of the informal Real Estate Market

At least 80 percent of all informal development has taken place on the agricultural land that bounds inner Cairo, the majority of which is private freehold property. (24) Since agricultural strips are roughly rectangular and already divided, they are easy to parcel for construction purposes. (25) Farmers have the incentive to convert their land holdings to real estate, which has a much higher market value. informal processes have been developed to facilitate sale transactions between farmers and purchasers. In most cases the purchaser (or an extended family member) goes on to construct housing on the land. (26) These processes serve to minimize costs.

The state has attempted to prohibit illegal construction, though this has only led to more innovative forms of construction involving additional actors. (27) Moreover, it has increased density by inadvertently incentivizing people to buy vacant plots in densely populated areas or that are adjacent to existing buildings- making them less likely to be noticed by the authorities. (28) However, state prohibitions have generally been lax because many state officials have an incentive to turn a blind eye to informal activities in exchange for bribes or to "[insulate themselves] from bottom-up demands for services and housing." (29)

Though these effects have led to an increase in the effective cost of housing units, the informal option remains more affordable and desirable than alternatives provided by the government or the private sector. Also, other advantages of informal areas--largely brought about by the characteristic of high population density--play a major role in making them preferred areas for settlement. Indeed, compactness has many advantages. It makes providing personal services straightforward and cost effective, and generates business opportunities by luring entrepreneurs with a large clientele and a pool of readily available labor. Residents can also benefit from social capital since relatives and friends live nearby. (30)

As mentioned earlier, that informal development has been a logical choice does not mean it is the best option. An obvious disadvantage is the loss of agricultural land. The uncontrolled urbanization process in informal areas also means that spaces are seldom allocated for the public good. Buildings are tall, blocking air and sun from the interior and streets, and are constructed with the largest possible footprint, narrowing streets and leaving little space for recreational parks. Vehicular access is difficult and there is almost a complete absence of traffic police control. (31) Most of the problems of informal areas could, however, be fixed by better provision of government services, especially in terms of infrastructure.

The Failure of Public and Private Real Estate Markets

As noted earlier, one of Cairo 2050's main proposals for dealing with "maldistribution of population" is to relocate part of the population to "new towns" built on state-owned land in the desert fringes of Cairo. Over the last thirty years, a massive amount of resources--both human and financial--has been expended on these towns to build public housing estates, private developer compounds, individual subdivisions and, in four of the eight towns, industrial complexes. Their overall success in terms of attracting inhabitants has been dismal, however; not even a fraction of the target of at least twelve million inhabitants has been absorbed. (32)

The public and private real estate markets operating in desert towns have failed to create affordable, appropriate and sustainable housing. There are several explanations for this. Let us first consider government public-housing programs. In these programs, housing has none of the advantages of informal areas that arise from high density, diversity, access to informal jobs and markets, affordability and proximity to family and friends. Diversity and compactness are prevented by strict adherence to Western planning norms. Residential areas are segregated from commercial, industrial and other areas, and individual buildings are separated by areas earmarked for parking and green space. The prohibition on opening shops or offices in most buildings prevents the formation of informal businesses (a source of at least 40 percent of jobs in urban Egypt). (33) An arbitrary, lottery-style method of distributing housing units makes it difficult to remain close to friends and family. Transport costs reduce affordability. As a result, a large proportion of public housing units remains vacant. Many times, someone who gains a unit through the lottery system will rent or resell it in anticipation of speculative gains. (34)

Turning to the private real-estate market, speculation and the desire for modernity have led to the proliferation of unaffordable private-developer schemes in desert towns. (35) Most of this development has taken the form of exclusive residential areas, including gated communities, golf and luxury villas and garden apartments. Sheikh Zayed City, for example, boasts exclusive private compounds like the one called "Beverly Hills." (36) Madinaty, one of Egypt's biggest property developments, is advertised as "a City of International Standards in Egypt." (37) In Cairo's eastern desert, at least eight luxury shopping complexes are planned. (38) One of these, "Park Avenue," is being advertised as "one of the biggest high-end retail destinations in the Middle East ... [which includes] the Park Avenue Shopping district, 595 luxury villas at Hyde Park and Centre Ville apartments all overlooking a lush central park." (39) In part, this is the result of downtown Cairo's reputation as crowded, noisy and polluted, juxtaposed with an image of the new towns as islands of modernity, peace and serenity.

Another reason for this trend is the prospect of speculative gains. A large proportion of the land and property purchased in desert towns by private companies or families is for speculative investment. (40) Speculators can reserve the right to buy into a new housing project with a relatively small down payment and can subsequently sell that right to other speculators who repeat the same transaction for a profit without ever living on the property.

The proliferation of private-developer schemes can also be explained by the incentives created by convenient terms of payment. When state land is sold to individuals and investors, a 10 percent down payment is required, and the balance is paid in equal installments over the next seven to ten years. After designing and advertising a project, the developer has an incentive to take advantage of "buyer financing"--i.e., selling housing units to interested buyers through a sequence of payments (reserve payments, payments upon signing contract, etc.) so that most land purchase installments and construction costs can be financed without bank loans. (41)

This means that the costs of starting and developing a project are relatively low, creating the conditions for private ventures that are profitable to developers but of little value to the public. Government officials have also engaged in corrupt land-sale deals with private companies, further increasing the profitability of these kinds of development projects.

Ignoring the Logic of Informality: Consequences

As long as appropriate alternatives for housing are unavailable, a policy of relocating Cairenes away from informal areas to satellite towns in order to "upgrade" the former is neither desirable nor feasible. Imposing formality on informal areas and transforming them into high-end development and green spaces would have catastrophic consequences for the poor and would exacerbate, rather than resolve, a housing crisis. Many of these areas would be bought up by entrepreneurs and companies interested in implementing lucrative schemes and speculative projects. Land values would skyrocket, impeding the construction of affordable housing. In the desert, the focus on investor-led, market-driven growth would also affect the poor negatively. It would surely result in increased urban inequalities as the middle and upper classes benefit at the expense of the poor. This could in turn lead to a breakdown in social cohesion.

Moreover, instead of creating a green "global heritage capital," implementing the vision for Cairo would lead to environmental and cultural disasters. (42) Housing projects in the new towns would be problematic given the amounts of energy and water needed for construction and to sustain green areas, and because of heightened pollution from increased transportation needs. The vision also makes use of environmental arguments to justify a number of plans that would have culturally harmful effects, including plans to transform a large part of the historic City of the Dead into a fifteen-thousand-acre public park. (43) While authorities claim that they would preserve heritage sites within the area, one wonders whether they take into account the fact that "the tombs have been inhabited for most of the 1,400 years between their establishment [in 642 CE] and today." (44)

The Irrelevance of Modernity

The desire to implement modernity and turn Cairo into a "global city," aligned with first-world urban development models and strategies, is a hindrance and not a solution to the city's urban development challenges. (45) The existence of informal and high-density areas is considered to be a sign that not enough has been done to introduce modernity to the city. The state, which views itself as the agent of modernization, believes it can rectify the situation through ambitious desert schemes and market-led development policies that would transform the inner city into an aggregation of futuristic skyscrapers and large green areas.

The State: Agent of Modernization?

Three assumptions underpin the belief that the state is an agent of modernization. The first is that the city's problems derive from its being "unmodern," from which it follows that modernization is the solution. Many think that Cairo, once the "Paris of the Nile," has become an "unmitigated mess." (46) This sentiment has permeated Egyptian public discourse, particularly since the 1990s. (47) The following description, which appeared in Al-Ahram in 1994, is typical: "Informal housing areas are one of modern Egyptian society's problems. They are made up of nests of criminals, beggars, drug dealers and those who flee the law. They are a continual source of disturbance and anxiety for society and represent an ax that will destroy progress. Informal housing areas and their surroundings live with health, societal, and cultural backwardness and the spread of social and psychological diseases." (48)

A second assumption is that the state as modernizing agent "can actually be effective, that it can intervene and has the ability to transform society and the economy." (49) A third assumption is that the state is external to and distinct from informality. Indeed, the 'ashwa'iyyat discourse mentioned previously is contingent upon the idea that informality reflects the absence or antithesis of the state. (50) Chaos, disorderliness, criminality and dangerous Islamism are seen to exist in informal areas because these areas are autonomous and separate from the state. (51)

In reality, "the state cannot always be so neatly located outside informality." (52) Indeed, informal areas are, according to W. Judson Dorman, "closely connected to the state both in origins and reproduction." (53) State policies were responsible for the creation of "two of the essential conditions" for informal development: "the absence of new subdivisions at the root of inflation in land prices and the economic development of the city periphery." (54) For reasons of expediency, the state has tacitly approved and sometimes even encouraged informal development.

The differentiation in public discourse between the state and formality on the one hand and informality on the other has been an expedient move on the part of the government to help legitimize a range of policies pertaining to informal areas, including eviction, upgrading schemes, the repression of political movements and incomplete service provision. (55) This would suggest that, in practice, the state has not necessarily been pursuing modernization. While this goes a long way toward explaining why the state has not effectively addressed informality, I agree with David Sims that "ignorance of reality" and "continued self-delusion" contain more explanatory power, especially given the shape that urban planning policies have taken over the past few years.

The Fallacy of the Modernity Solution

The logic and rationality attributed to the workings of modernity, such as the market, capitalism and technology, are far from obvious. (56) Postmodern, postcolonial and post-development discourses seek to go beyond the common assumptions inherent to modernization theories. A full-fledged critique of modernity is beyond the scope of this paper, however.

Instead, I will focus on an internal criticism of modernization theories, namely that they embody an ahistorical approach to development and are guilty of universalism and homogenization. If history is linear, first-world development is the desired end-state for the third world. This logic is underpinned by universalism--the idea that there is one development trajectory, namely westernization and homogenization--as societies of the third world are grouped together and collectively prescribe a "one-size-fits-all" solution to their problems. (57)

Modernity is prone to failure when it is not contextualized. Western models of modernity have been exported to Cairo for decades, despite the fact that modernity-based government programs have been repeatedly unsuccessful. Egypt's economy, its budget and the majority of its people "simply cannot afford the shining paraphernalia of western city living"--a reality that is not apparent to urban planners, with their "modernist delusions" and "'Dubai-beautiful' complexes." (58) As noted in the first section of this article, Cairo 2050 was inspired by grand visions like Paris 2020, Sydney 2030, Singapore 2050 and London 2066. The tendency to look outside of Egypt for inspiration is part of a broader trend, prevalent in academic and development-agency literature, to use broad, international paradigms to solve highly local, individualized problems.

Ignoring the Irrelevance of Modernity: Consequences

When modernity is imposed based on external examples, the result is often highly abstract and divorced from reality. Words like "dream," "fantasia" and "desert Disneyland" have been used to describe aspects of Cairo 2050. (59) It is inconceivable that the government would raze large sections of built-up areas and to relocate possibly millions of people. Where plans require colossal sums of money and resources for implementation, they become even more dangerous and pie-in-the-sky. These fantastical ambitions will inevitably result in major parts of the vision being tossed out.

Moreover, the vision's top-down approach means that it fails to consider the needs of the majority of Cairo's residents, has little regard for their preferences and does not seek their approval. For example, according to Amnesty International, the development of Cairo 2050 was based on the findings from a survey of no more than five thousand people. (60) Such considerations mean that it will be unacceptable to implement the plan in its original form, especially in a postrevolutionary context. According to an article by Nabil Shawkat, "no one wants to associate with it these days." (61) However, there is little chance that, even post-Mubarak, Cairo 2050 will be discarded completely. Indeed, it will be difficult to rid the system of its domination by special interests, which has led to a highly disproportionate amount of government investments ending up in new towns rather than in the much more populated informal areas. (62) Yet there is no guarantee that "the manipulators and opportunists and bribers, so prominent in the past, will not still find fertile ground." (63)


This article has argued that in Cairo, informality has not been a diversion from a superior modernization path, but is a logical alternative route for urbanization to have taken given the local context. Indeed, the challenge presented by the Cairene megacity could not have been met without the people's ingenuity, especially in a context in which government policy has been biased toward "western, modernist-corporate paradigms." (64) However, while informality has been ingenuous and appropriate, it is not optimal.

As a result, the way forward is to try to "re-orient Cairo's development away from inefficient and wasteful grandiosity" toward the needs of the city's residents. (65) Government resources should be shifted from satellite towns that benefit mainly the rich minority to informal areas where about two-thirds of the population lives and where public services are most lacking. Also, well-positioned desert parcels that are currently undeveloped could be used for the construction of affordable housing as the population increases. One way of doing this would be to prepare and service plots of land and then sell them to would-be informal homesteaders for home construction. This would not worsen the problem of agricultural-land scarcity and would make more city services available to homesteaders than if they had settled in informal areas. Such a project was implemented in Ismailia in the mid-1970s and by 1983 was "a well-known success." (66) Other ways forward include trying to eliminate real-estate speculation by making provisions regarding owner occupancy, such as imposing restrictions on the transfer of ownership for a number of years following the date of acquisition.

Above all, planners and government officials alike should recognize that the views of "older professional elites whose models for Cairo are London, Singapore or Dubai" are not appropriate for a city where most people are poor and the economy is stagnant. (67) Shedding widely held misperceptions about informal areas and disregarding special interests will prove far more important to the development efforts of the future. (68) The views and interests of the majority, rather than existing models from abroad, should form the basis for future plans.

In November 2011, the author attended the Harvard Arab Weekend in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the largest pan-Arab conference in North America, where one participant asked the following about development in the Arab world: "You speak of a Turkish model for our governance, an Israeli model for our entrepreneurship and a Chinese model for our employment. Why not an Arab model born on Arab soil?" Continuing this thought: Why not a Cairene model for Cairo's urban development?


(1) Frederick Deknatel, "2050 or Bust: On Urban Planning in the Egyptian Desert," Los Angeles Review of Books, 16 November 2011.

(2) Ibid.

(3) Cairo: A City in Transition, City & Citizens Series (Nairobi: United Nations Human Settlements Programme, 2011), 152,, 146.

(4) Cairo 2050 has not been officially published. The Egyptian government, together with a group of consultants, is now working on an amended version of the original plan, but definitive information about modifications is not yet available. However, a PowerPoint presentation outlining the original Cairo 2050 plan is available to the public and is the basis for information in this article. Ayman El-hefnawi, "Cairo vision 2050: The Strategic Urban Development Plan of Greater Cairo Region" (presentation, World Urban Forum 5, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 2010), hefnawi.pdf.

(5) David Sims, Understanding Cairo: The Logic of a City Out of Control (New York: American University in Cairo Press, 2010), 88; Deknatel, "2050 or Bust."

(6) This represents a failure in terms of resolving Cairo's urban challenges, not vis-a-vis certain individuals and groups whose narrow economic and political interests are served by the plan. This point is expanded in a later section of the article.

(7) "Fresh reshuffle in Egypt's governors," Egypt State Information Service, 15 April 2011,

(8) Deknatel, "2050 or Bust."

(9) David Sims, "Understanding Cairo in Revolutionary Times," American University in Cairo Press, (15) February 2011,

(10) Ibid.

(11) Nabil Shawkat, "Street Smart: Cairo 2050, Guilty by Design or Association?" Ahram Online, 10 September 2011.

(12) Cairo: A City in Transition, 152.

(13) Ibid.; GIZ was formerly called the German Society for Technical Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit, or GTZ). Since 1 January 2011 it has been known as the German Society for International Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit).

(14) El-hefnawi, "Cairo vision 2050," 3.

(15) Ibid., 5.

(16) Deknatel, "2050 or Bust."

(17) Cairo: A City in Transition, 159.

(18) Sims, Understanding Cairo, 88.

(19) "Cairo: The Organized Loss of Identity," International Network for Urban Research and Action, Cairo,

(20) Cairo: A City in Transition, 153.

(21) Sinas, Understanding Cairo, 267.

(22) Marion Sejourne, "The History of Informal Settlements," in Cairo's Informal Areas: Between Urban Challenges and Hidden Potentials, ed. Regina Kipper and Marion Fischer (Cairo: GIZ Egypt, 2009), 17.

(23) Sims, Understanding Cairo, 86.

(24) Ibid., 112.

(25) Ibid.

(26) Ibid., 114.

(27) Ibid., 122.

(28) Ibid., 114.

(29) Cairo: A City in Transition, 148; W. Judson Dorman, "Informal Cairo: between Islamist insurgency and the neglectful state?" Security Dialogue 40 (2009): 422.

(30) Note that in informal areas, most personal services are "provided by establishments that are themselves informal." Sims, Understanding Cairo, 120-21.

(31) Ibid., 121-22.

(32) Ibid., 173, 181, 187, 207.

(33) Ibid., 188.

(34) Ibid., 158-62.

(35) Nicolas Kemper, "Revolutionizing Cairo," Yale Globalist, 28 February 2011.

(36) "Beverly Hills," SODIC Human Developments, accessed 8 March 2012,

(37) "A City In Egypt With International Standards," Madinaty,

(38) Sims, Understanding Cairo, 206.

(39) "DAMAC Properties--Strength to strength in KSA," press release, DAMAC Properties, 16 January 2011,

(40) Sims, Understanding Cairo, 207.

(41) Ibid., 192-94.

(42) El-hefnawi, "Cairo vision 2050," 16.

(43) Ibid.; Jack Shenker, "Desert Storna," Guardian, 10 June 2011; Kemper, "Revolutionizing Cairo."

(44) Cairo: A City in Transition, 162; Matt Bradley, "Razing the City of the Dead to breathe new life into Cairo," National, 19 June 2009.

(45) This section of the article defines "modernity" as adherence to global models.

(46) Sims, Understanding Cairo, 15.

(47) Diane Singerman, "The Siege of Imbaba, Egypt's Internal 'Other,' and the Criminalization of Politics," in Cairo Contested: Governance, Urban Space, and Global Modernity, ed. Diane Singerman (New York: American University in Cairo Press, 2009), 111-44.

(48) Ibid., 111.

(49) Sims, Understanding Cairo, 272.

(50) Dorman, "Informal Cairo," 428; Shawn O'Donnell, "Informal Housing in Cairo: Are Ashwa'iyyat Really the Problema?" (working paper, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, 2010), 16, Informal%20Housing%20in%20Cairo.pdf.

(51) Dorman, "Informal Cairo," 428.

(52) Julia Elyachar, "Mappings of Power: The State, NGOs, and International Organizations in the Informal Economy of Cairo," Comparative Studies in Society and History 45 (2003): 576.

(53) Dorman, "Informal Cairo," 435.

(54) Ibid., 422.

(55) A well-known example of the repression of political movements is the Siege of Imbaba, which took place in the winter of 1992.

(56) Timothy Mitchell, Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 14.

(57) Wolfgang Sachs, ed., The Development Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as Power (New York: Zed Books, 1992), 3-4.

(58) Sims, Understanding Cairo, 272; Sims, "Understanding Cairo in Revolutionary Times."

(59) Deknatel, quoting an architect who has worked in Egypt for twenty years. Deknatel, "2050 or Bust"; Sims, "Understanding Cairo in Revolutionary Times."

(60) "We Are Not Dirt" Forced Evictions in Egypt's Informal Settlements (London: Amnesty International, 2011), 81.

(61) Shawkat, "Street Smart."

(62) John Harris, "Urban planner David Sims explodes myths on Cairo's dysfunction," Egypt Independent, 12 January 2012.

(63) Sims, "Understanding Cairo in Revolutionary Times."

(64) Sims, Understanding Cairo, 268-69.

(65) Sims, "Understanding Cairo in Revolutionary Times."

(66) Anaira Howeidy, "International Expert David Sims: Rethinking Housing Policy," in Cairo's Informal Areas: Between Urban Challenges and Hidden Potentials, ed. Regina Kipper and Marion Fischer (Cairo: GIZ Egypt, 2009), 181.

(67) Sinas, "Understanding Cairo in Revolutionary Times."

(68) Arab Republic of Egypt: Towards an Urban Sector Strategy (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2008), 112.

Nada Tarbush is a graduate student in the dual master's-degree program in international affairs between Sciences Po Paris and Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.

The Global Public Policy Network Essay features the finest work received by the Journal from students at GPPN partner schools, including Sciences Po Paris, the London School of Economics and Political Science, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and Columbia University. The essay prize was inaugurated in 2011.
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Author:Tarbush, Nada
Publication:Journal of International Affairs
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:7EGYP
Date:Mar 22, 2012
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