There’s a development project planned for Egypt that could salvage its drowning economic condition, and it has been shelved for some twenty years waiting to see the light of day. It was created by Farouk El Baz, the well-known Egyptian-American geologist whose resume includes consulting on NASA’s Apollo mission and advising the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadaat, and if implemented, the project has the potential to help lift Egypt into a new socioeconomic era.
Soap In A Box had the privilege of speaking with El Baz and getting more insight into the plan. “People have been calculating satellite images to figure out how much of the land deposits at the Nile Valley and delta disappear every year, and it was found that 30, 000 acres of land of the fertile Nile and delta disappear under cement every year for the past 20 years,” said El Baz. “If this same rate goes unabated then all of the land of the Nile Valley and delta will disappear in 183 years – and we’re talking about a country with 5,000 years of history. I figured something could surely be done.”
The idea is to alleviate overpopulation in Cairo and in areas surrounding the Nile, by building new residences, schools and industrial zones in a 2,000 km flat strip of land chosen due to its strategic location and topographic characteristics, located west of Aswan to the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s described as easy to pave and devoid of east-west crossing valleys that are prone to flashfloods, which occur in the Eastern Desert.
The plot of land is also located in proximity to large tracts of fertile soils that are amenable to reclamation, with potential for groundwater resources. “The region is endowed with plentiful sunlight and persistent northerly wind. These conditions allow the use of renewable solar and wind energy in the future,” says El Baz’s report, which centers around the construction of a superhighway across the chosen land – west of the Nile from the Mediterranean Sea coastline to Lake Nasser – where the development of new communities, agriculture, industry, trade and tourism can be developed in the largely untapped Western Desert.
The project’s objectives are as follows:
- Ending urban encroachment on agricultural land in the Nile Valley
- Opening new land for desert reclamation and the production of food
- Establishing new areas for urban and industrial growth near large cities
- Creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs for Egyptian labor
- Arresting environmental deterioration throughout the Nile Valley
- Relieving the existing road network from heavy and dangerous transport
- Initiating new ventures in tourism and eco-tourism in the Western Desert
- Connecting the Tushka region and its projects with the rest of the country
- Creating a physical environment for economic projects by the private sector
- Involving the population at large in the development of the country
- Giving people, particularly the young, some hope for a better future
- Focusing people’s energy on productive and everlasting things to do
Noble objectives, no doubt, and what better time for these than now? El Baz explained that whomever it is that takes over power on a permanent basis in Egypt, this project would be beneficial and would begin to reap benefits ten years down the line. Its long-term reward is primarily what kept it shelved for so long by the old guard of Mubarak’s regime, who couldn’t see the usefulness of implementing a plan with no quick returns or short-term profits and glory. The well-researched project however would do wonders to get the ball rolling on a more practical level in Egypt, and hopefully it can do so without getting dragged into a political mess, or perhaps better put, without being politicized or torn in between warring hands seeking power.
El Baz has been in touch with Nabil El Arabi and Essam Sharaf, and reiterated that whomever it is that takes control of the situation in Egypt, the plan itself stands ground as a worthwhile endeavour for the Egyptian labor force and economy. El Baz says he only created the plan and wants nothing to do with its supervision or implementation, but would rather see a varied board overseeing its execution, which would be funded by a bond open to the Egyptian public. This project is very much intended for the Egyptian people, El Baz says.
For more information on El Baz, and his superhighway and development corridor, visit: http://faroukelbaz.com/
– Love In a Box