Egypt is racing to prepare a grandiose new capital city in the desert east of Cairo before the first civil servants move in later this year and ahead of the delayed official opening of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s flagship project.
At the heart of the city, workers are putting finishing touches to an avenue of ministries that echo the architecture of pharaonic temples and adjoin a raised Islamic complex, two domed parliament buildings and a sprawling presidential compound.
There will be a monorail passing through a business district where a 385-metre central tower is close to completion.
Beyond, the contours of a 10km park stretching to a giant mosque are taking shape.
The city, known simply as the New Administrative Capital, is designed to operate with smart technology on virgin land away from the clutter and chaos of Cairo.
It will boast universities, leisure facilities and a diplomatic quarter.
But it has made halting progress, and after Emirati funding fell through shortly after it was announced in 2015, the military and government took on the estimated $US25 billion ($A32 billion) cost of the first phase, injecting off-budget investment.
Some foreign loans and financing have been secured.
The coronavirus pandemic also slowed progress, and the first of three planned phases, covering 168 square kilometres, will not be completed when the government begins to move in.
“The rate of completion of the first phase has passed 60 per cent across all projects,” said Khaled el-Husseiny, spokesman for the new capital.
He added that the delayed transfer of civil servants would begin in July, ahead of an official opening planned for the end of 2021.
The city is being designed as a high-tech model for Egypt’s future.
Control centres will monitor infrastructure and security electronically, roofs will be covered in solar panels, payments will be cashless and 15 square metres of green space are allocated per inhabitant, officials said.
“We are trying to solve all the problems we had in the past in the new capital,” Husseiny said.
The finished city is expected to house at least 6 million residents, its second and third phases largely residential.
That will take decades to complete, although the government will be able to function normally while construction goes on, said Amr Khattab, spokesman for the Housing Ministry which is responsible for developing parts of the city.
About 5000 out of 20,000 housing units have been sold in the first residential district expected to open in May, Khattab said.
On Monday, Sisi’s office announced 1.5 billion Egyptian pounds ($A124 million) in incentives for civil servants selected to move to the city.