• Egypt;
  • new towns;
  • population redistribution;
  • regional economic development.


Faced with the unrelenting growth of the primate city, Cairo, the government of Egypt has implemented new town policies to redistribute the nation's population away from the fertile Nile Delta region to new desert cities. This paper examines these policies while attempting to determine the success of the new cities in achieving their goals.

The development of economic activity and permanent populations were the major criteria used to evaluate the progress of three of the new desert cities. While the cities were able, by offering low site costs and tax incentives, to draw business, they were incapable of attracting significant resident populations. A severe lack of basic amenities and social services, corn bined with the strong pull of Cairo, were found to be major barriers to population redistribution.

Moreover, the level of economic growth, measured in terms of manufacturing/industrial plants, was discovered to be closely related to the distance of the city from Cairo. In the closest, most economically successful cities, Cairo continued to play an important role as both a source of labor and service provider. The furthest city, which did not have substantial linkages with Cairo, was unable to overcome the service inadequacies which contributed to its lack of appeal to investors.