The Bliss of Ignorance: President Sisi’s Abu Qir

Summary: yet another Sisi mega-project has been presented as bestowing great benefits on Egypt and its people but a closer look shows the opposite is in fact the real story.

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2 thoughts on “The Bliss of Ignorance: President Sisi’s Abu Qir”

  1. Thanks for this very interesting post which confirms other aspects of Sisi’s policies. What I wonder about this and similar projects is whether there are enough wealthy people to buy all these housing units which are systematically priced beyond the ability of the Egyptian middle classes [such as they are] and most definitely completely beyond the pale for the poor! Also, what is the point, when they don’t get finished, stay empty, and merely exacerbate resentment by the population, a resentment what will eventually, sooner or later, bring about another major conflict?

    1. I want to thank Mr. Mandour for his fascinating analysis and comment on Dr. Lackner’s questions. As the article mentions, I agree that the dynamic created by the construction boom is part of a systematic effort to insulate the regime and its supporters (primarily from the business elite, military, and other parts of the security apparatus) from civil unrest and create a sort of “Hunger Games”-esque series of districts that are easily controlled. Even the NAC’s design has a military feel to it, with quadrants easily isolated and with limited entry/exit points. With the economy in its current state, downward mobility of even the upper middle class limits domestic consumption and only those regime supporters benefiting from the wealth transfer can afford it. As Egypt seeks to both accommodate and mimic Gulf models, my suspicion is that it is trying to recreate the UAE model with a “build it and they will come” mentality, catering to wealthy regional business interests and perhaps attempting to draw from the Gulf’s consumer exodus from Lebanon. That demand is still in question but even if strong, the oversupply means that yes many units will remain empty. The construction also puts folks to work (under the supervision and direction of the engineering corp of course) which is a buffer to unemployment and continued private sector contraction – a short sighted, short term solution to an evergreen problem but one that buys the regime a little time in its effort to attract that elusive foreign interest. The regime certainly believes it can contain any conflict resulting from resentment as it has in the past either through direct or indirect threats and coercion with minimal international blowback.

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