In mid-February, the developer behind the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, signed a deal with the Egyptian defence ministry. The agreement clears the way for the construction of Emaar Square, the centrepiece of a mixed-use development – exclusive residential units, a golf course, open-air shopping for international luxury brands – that is part of UAE-based Emaar’s exclusive Uptown Cairo complex. The defence ministry, which owns the massive tract of land where Uptown Cairo will be built, is Egypt’s largest landowner and manager. In 1997, a presidential decree gave the military the right to manage all undeveloped non-agricultural land – 87% of the country, by one estimate. In the city of Cairo, this translates to massive, walled plots of land in lucrative locations, monitored from watchtowers. Signs forbid photography and identify them as military zones, but no military activity takes place here. They are vacant, awaiting their turn to be transformed into hotels, housing for military officers or upmarket malls. Emaar Square is the latest and biggest of these military-secured developments. A private road will link it to Cairo’s road network, likely requiring the “cleansing” of the poor homeowners in the Jabal al-Ahmar area. (Egypt’s military has a… Read full this story
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