Housing and Planning Issues

Cairo: Housing and Planning Issues
Fragmentation of Living Space from Inner City Poverty Areas to Suburban Gated Communities

  • Author: Wael Salah Fahmi, Keith Sutton
  • ISBN: 978-1-938681-01-1

Wael Salah Fahmi was trained as an architect at Cairo University and received his PhD in Planning and Landscape from the University of Manchester (UK). He is an Associate Professor at the Architecture Department, Helwan University in Cairo.

Keith Sutton lectured in Geography at the University of Manchester (United Kingdom), specializing in Third World and North African courses.

Wael and Keith have been undergoing joint research on Greater Cairo’s urban growth problems and housing crisis, the rehabilitation of historical Cairo, the cemetery informal settlements and the garbage collectors’ community, and Cairo's 19th century and early 20th century contested European Quarter and architectural heritage.


This book examines Greater Cairo’s housing access and vacancy, suburban gated communities and resettlement sites, particularly in New Cairo City. The empirical research investigates the complex reasons for the failure of various policies (Greater Cairo Region Master Plan, New Settlements schemes, New Towns) in meeting housing needs of the urban poor, focusing especially on inner city tomb dwellers (Cities of the Dead) and on Zabaleen garbage collectors. The new settlement housing proved to be too expensive for the urban poor, thus eventually attracting speculators rather than residents. This has resulted in the emergence of nearly empty New Towns, and the increasing fortification of the affluent nouveaux riche within exclusive desert condominiums and gated communities. These communities are regarded as fortresses of leisure, consumption and socio-spatial segregation in the context of global (golf) tourism and real estate marketing, a phenomenon that aggravated social injustice and housing inequality. A stakeholder approach is proposed which would involve grass-roots co-operation between urban poor population, local NGOs, urban planners and official authorities to resolve the phenomenon of ‘dwellings without dwellers and dwellers without dwellings’ which are to be found in practically all districts of Greater Cairo.

Table of Contents

Preface 5
Chapter One: Greater Cairo Master Plans 9
Master Plans for Cairo 11
Late 1990s Out-turns using the 1996 Census results 19
Factors Behind the Relative Failure of Cairo's Master Plans 29
Future Scenarios 39
Chapter Two: Greater Cairo Region's Housing Crisis 47
Housing Access 47
Vacant Dwellings 50
Housing Policies and Legislative Development 60
Housing Cooperatives 61
Urban Youth Housing 61
Privately Owned Housing 63
Rental Housing 64
Earlier Housing Rent Control Laws - 1950s-1980s 66
Modifications to Rent Control Law 1996 69
Recent Mortgage Law 200 71
Would the Mortgage Law benefit the rich or the poor? 73
Chapter Three: Cairo's 'Cities of the Dead' and the Eviction of Tomb Dwellers 75
The Location and Origins of the Cemeteries and their Residents 78
Socio-Economic Characteristics of the Tomb Dwellers 92
Social Structures and Social Stigmas and Built Environment Conditions 99
Scenarios and Plans 104
Clearing Bab El-Nasr Cemetery 108
The Future of the Cemeteries 112
Chapter Four: Cairo’s Contested Garbage City and the Privatisation of Solid
Waste Management
History of the Zabaleen Garbage Collectors 121
The Muqattam Zabaleen Community 124
Population Growth 128
Zabaleen Environmental Development Program (ZEDP) 129
Community Based Micro-Enterprises 131
Change in Land Tenure Practices 132
Physical Development of the Zabaleen Settlement 133
Land Use Changes 134
Housing Conditions 135
Urban Development 139
Privatization of Waste Management Systems 141
Stakeholders’ Analysis of Attitudes towards the Privatization
Programme and Proposed Relocation Plans 144
Recycling Activities and Housing Conditions 149
Community Livelihood and Social Cohesion 151
Political Achievement 152
Technical Improvement 154
Community Empowerment and Networking 155
Environmental Awareness 157
The Swine Flu Pandemic and the Slaughtering of the Zabaleen’s Pigs 158
The Proposed Relocation Plan 162
The Future of Garbage City 163
Chapter Five: Gated Communities within Greater
Cairo Region .The Case of New Cairo City
Heteropology of Gated Communities 174
Gated Resorts East and West Greater Cairo Region 180
Golf Tourism in Egypt and Emergence of Gated Enclaves (Cairotopias) 182
New Cairo City’s Contested Housing 190
Stakeholders’ Narratives and Contested Landscape 192
Gated Communities and Golf Resorts for the Rich -New Settlement (No. 5) 194
Resettlement Housing for the Poor –New Settlement (No. 3) 204
Primary Stakeholders’ Attitudes and Evaluations 211
Vacant Dwellings within Survey Areas 216
Chapter Six: Greater Cairo Region’s Housing Future 222
Housing Access 222
Vacant Dwellings 223
Gated Communities 224
Resettlement Sites 227
A Stakeholder Approach 229
Bibliography 231
Endnotes 246