Yesterday, I went on a tour of greater Cairo with other new AUC faculty members. The bus meandered through the streets of various Cairo neighborhoods, with a running commentary provided by Associate Provost John Swanson. Here’s the view from the cliffs overlooking Cairo. Swanson says on a clear day you can see the pyramids. But given the air pollution in Cairo, the clear days are few and far between.
The tour also included a view of the new campus the American University in Cairo is building about 20 miles from the city center. The $350 million project is scheduled for completion in 2008. The University made the decision to move to this area in the Sahara desert — an area city planners are calling “New Cairo” — because, given the density and congestion in downtown Cairo, there is no room to expand and parking is atrocious. The target demographic of New Cairo is upper income residents who want to escape the congested inner city. The area already has a golf course (kept green by water pumped in from the Nile river, the source of all water in Cairo) and this new suburb will quickly become urban; it’s estimated to house some 2.5 million people when it’s fully built. Here are some of the highlights of the new campus’s 260-acre contruction site: