In push to modernise Cairo, cultural gems and green spaces razed
The historic city of Cairo, known for its ancient charm and cultural richness, is undergoing rapid modernisation under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's leadership. As part of this transformation, historical neighbourhoods, including working-class areas, are being demolished to make way for concrete high-rises and thoroughfares. The old city's unique architecture, tombs and gardens are disappearing, and longstanding residents are being relocated to the outskirts. This ambitious urban renewal aims to create a more uniform and efficient city, with improved traffic systems, revitalised tourist attractions like the Nile River and upgraded living conditions for those in slums.
President el-Sisi considers these construction projects among the major achievements of his tenure, highlighting extensive development efforts across Egypt. However, this modernisation has come at the cost of Cairo's historical and cultural heritage. Critics argue that while modernisation is welcome, the destruction of historic neighbourhoods is unnecessary and detrimental.
Some citizens celebrate the development as a sign of advancement, while others lament the loss of their city's character and history. Amid the ongoing demolitions, promises of new gardens and parks offer a partial solace, but the speed and scale of the changes leave many residents feeling disoriented and disconnected from the city they once knew.
The Prince's Foundation programme manager at the Jameel House of Traditional Arts in Cairo and architect, Mamdouh Sakr, reflected on the situation, saying, 'If you were being invaded, all what you’d care about is your monuments, your trees, your history, your culture. And now, it’s all being destroyed, without any reason, without any explanation, without any need.'