A new capital in the Egyptian desert: Sisi’s military model for the economy

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Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has never been one to shy away from making bold promises while vowing to revive the Arab world’s most populous state. But in March, he delivered a prediction that was audacious even by his standards.

Speaking at a military event, he said the inauguration of a “New Administrative Capital” covering a swath of desert equal to the size of Singapore, would represent the “birth of a new state”. His words will soon be put to the test.

In August, civil servants will begin making the 45km transition from ministries in downtown Cairo to the new capital, where construction workers are putting the finishing touches to the $3bn “government district”. The aim is to have 55,000 staff operating out of more than 30 huge new ministries by the end of the year. Ultimately, with private developments alongside military projects, the goal is to have 6.5m people living in the city.

The project — forecast to cost $45bn…

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