Greater Cairo Region (GCR) many Challenges

Greater Cairo Region (GCR) many Challenges

Of all the MENA countries capital cities, the Greater Cairo Region (GCR) with a present population well over the 20 million mark is a vast agglomeration with many challenges.  It is a place of unique political and cultural significance for the world.  It has always and still is the prime engine of economic growth and the main population centre in Egypt.  The newly settled leadership facing enormous challenges has wisely decided to involve two of the many influencing factors of the country, i.e. its youth and transportation.

Prior to diving the thick of the subject, and as highlighted in an article of the UN HABITAT, Cairo lives with many key challenges; most importantly planning, infrastructure and service delivery which has been managed to barely keep up with the very rapid urban growth over the past four decades, we would like to propose in this context, this article of Centre for Mediterranean Integration of Marseille, France, titled:

Promoting Public Private Partnership “PPP” to Include Transportation Start-ups in Greater Cairo


October 3, 2016

Transportation has direct impact on the economy, the environment and people’s mobility. On one hand, the air quality is getting worse and there is pollution due to vehicle emissions resulted from the increasing fuel consumption. On the other hand, the large number of people working in places far away from their residence directly affect traffic negatively.

Due to the poor performance of the public transport system, there have been major changes in the methods of travel in Greater Cairo. Private cars have become the favourite mode of transport for a large percentage of Cairenes, and among the public transport users there has been a move from the formal public transport services (Metros, buses, minibuses and rails) to the informal and private services (taxis, microbuses, minibuses and three wheeled rickshaw) which have a great impact on urban transportation as it is filling the gaps of the formal public transport services in terms offering accessibility, speed, and route flexibility.

As a result of the challenges that the government faces in meeting the transportation and mobility needs; solutions have been more complicated and untraditional, that is why citizen-based innovation and initiatives are strongly encouraged to take place in solving the problem. Few years ago, new private initiatives in Egypt have offered diverse solutions to alleviate transportation problems in Greater Cairo, such as crowdsourcing mobile applications and customized ride sharing platforms, promoting fewer car usage and ownership; besides other flexible routing transit services that facilitate commuters’ trips.

Although the emergence of transport start-ups and the solutions they provided might help in solving the transport complications, and might have a great contribution to the community if successful, some of them had a short life span for various internal and external reasons (as shown below), and might be terminated at any phases of the start-up’s life cycle. It has been noticed that there is no one-size-fits-all; the start-ups that survived are the ones that are most adaptable to change, cope with the transformations and keep offering what people want. Perseverance as well as agility are core features in the success of any start-up. The question is how to keep the transport start-ups, having solutions to the severe transportation problem, to sustain?

According to some conducted researches, below are some recommendations for the Transportation Start-ups to help them survive for some time:

Since the objective of the transportation start-ups is to solve community problems, they should have a clear strategy on how they would expand in the market and affect a larger segment to attract the attention and to be sustainable.

For the transport industry, Business to Customer (B2C) service needs a large amount of funding, as it needs a quick market spread. Money will be generated when many vehicles are operated and more clients opted for the service.

The transportation field needs to be managed in a way that protects the passenger from both the road hassles and drivers harassments. Developing monitoring and evaluation system would help in that sense.

To offer a transportation service to be used by the public, it is all about developing IT. In this era, investing in a strong IT platform will distinguish one service provider from the other.

Since many governmental entities are looking at the benefit they will get in return of their provided support, the transportation start-ups have to cater to the needs of the Ministry of Transportation in solving the transportation problems. Upon the applicability of the service, and how much it aligns with the Ministry’s needs, the start-up might be supported.

Transportation start-ups that deliver almost the same service have to coordinate with each other to cover a big range and get a large number of users. The transportation start-ups should be implemented in a bigger scale to make a real difference and get the needed support.

Moving to the concept of Public Private Partnership (PPP), the role of the public sector is always needed for the progress and the development of the community services. The public sector believed in innovation and entrepreneurship and noticed that those two components play a significant role in the economic growth, thus, several governmental entities launching centres to incubate start-ups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), few years ago, to help them build their companies professionally, yet these entities are not well marketed and their capacities are not fully utilized.

Focusing on the transportation services, the government has to encourage people and give them incentive to leave their own cars and go for the public transport as an initiative to reduce traffic jam. To achieve so, things should be prioritized, for instance: developing a good infrastructure, managing traffic properly and handling parking management. At the same time the government has to encourage and facilitate the operations of the private sector that offers solutions in the transportation domain and provides services to the public that decrease the congestion such as ride sharing in the form of carpooling, bus pooling and car-hailing services.

Finally, the first step to solve a problem is to tackle its roots. To do so, there should be cooperation between different sectors, the private sector, the public sector as well as the social community; all these segments must play a role in developing the country. Solving transportation problem is a strategic project and if all sectors worked together to solve this problem, it will be solved.

Passant Fakhr El-Din, MPA

Passant is a Faculty Affairs Officer at the American University in Cairo (AUC). She has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the AUC, School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, and a B.Sc. in Business Administration from Ain Shams University, Faculty of Commerce, the English Section. Her research analyses the Egyptian start-ups and entrepreneurs; she is trying to highlight the crucial role of the public sector in the entrepreneurial domain and promoting the concept of Public Private Partnership “PPP”.

Great Giza Pyramid’s Construction Details

Great Giza Pyramid’s Construction Details

The 4,500 years old papyrus has just been displayed in public in Cairo Museum as reported by the International Business Times on July 21, 2016 in an article written by Léa Surugue.  it is about the Great Giza Pyramid’s Construction Details. 

Oldest papyrus ever found reveals details of Great Giza pyramid’s construction

Ancient documents described as the oldest papyruses in existence have been put on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The 4,500-year-old documents, unveiled at the museum last Friday (15 July 2016), appear to detail the steps of the Great Pyramid of Giza’s construction as well as the daily lives of workers.

The pyramid is believed to have been completed between 2560 and 2540 BC under Pharaoh Khufu’s reign – during the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt. Some scholars believe the King’s Chamber at the heart of the pyramid contains his royal remains, but this has not yet been proven.

Analysing these papyruses may solve a number of other mysteries regarding the construction of the pyramid.

The documents were unearthed three years ago during excavations led by the French Institute for Eastern Archaeology at the Wadi el-Jarf archaeological site.

After years of careful examination, the rare documents have been publicly displayed for the first time.

Allusion to the construction

Wadi el-Jarf is situated on the coast of the Red Sea, and is the oldest-known artificial harbour in the world. It served as major communication corridor between the Nile Valley and the Red Sea. In 2013, during excavation works, 300 fragments of papyri were recovered from ancient boat storage facilities.

Most of the documents, which date back to Egypt’s fourth (2613 to 2494 BC) and fifth (2494 to 2345 BC) dynasties, are ‘bureaucratic’ account books – with records of monthly food deliveries from various regions, including the Nile Delta. But the most interesting find was a personal logbook providing details of the construction of the pyramid – which dates back to 4,500 years ago. For the first time there is written evidence directly alluding to the building of this ‘wonder of the world’.

The pyramids of Giza are impressive Ancient Egyptian constructionsGetty

According to archaeologists Pierre Tallet and Gregory Marouard – who led the team that discovered the papyri – this logbook was written in hieroglyphics by a man named Merer, who was in charge of a team of about 200 workers. In a paper published in 2014, Tallet and Marouard explain that Merer used the papyrus to transcribe the details of many operations related to the construction of the Giza pyramid, and to describe the work at the limestone quarries on the opposite bank of the Nile.

The papyrus reveals that the limestone was brought from the site of Tura, near Cairo, by boat along the Nile river. The logbook also says that in Khufu’s 27th year, the construction of the Great Pyramid was being overseen by the vizier Ankhaf – a high-ranking official and half-brother of Khufu.

This papyrus thus allows archaeologists to discover detailed information about the history of the pyramid and better understand how the 139-metre-tall structure (originally almost 147 metres tall) was constructed. Now, the public can access this unique relic to the Ancient Egyptian civilisation.

World Cities and Tourists’ Destinations

World Cities and Tourists’ Destinations

There are an increasing number of World Cities and Tourists’ Destinations studies in dedicated websites with eye opening reports generously provided on Cost of Living, Telephone and Taxi charges, etc.   We propose 2 websites with excerpts of each reproduced here.  The sites are and  .  Interestingly, the cost of a picnicking day out throughout the world cities was reviewed and the resulting ranking proposed for everyone’s enlightenment.  According to data collected by Expatistan’s Cost of Living Index, a picnic for two will cost just $22.14 in Dubai, a little over half of that of Paris’ $34.02. 

We propose here only the first 5 cities of the Ucityguides and a short introduction to the Expatistan.

The Top 10 Cities and Tourist Destinations in the Middle East

Although plagued by religious and social tensions, the Middle East is one of the most fascinating parts of the world, with some of the most breath-taking places and wonders anywhere.  Contrary to what may be believed by many in the West, it is perfectly safe to travel to large parts of the region (particularly Turkey, Jordan, United Arab Emirates and Israel), and most of it really is a must-see destination at least once in a lifetime.



Although it’s currently a place to avoid, at some point the social and political turmoil will die down and Cairo will once again be one of the world’s must-go destinations. There’s the beautiful setting by the Nile, and amid all the chaos is faded grandeur in Paris-like architecture downtown. But it’s as a gateway to the Giza pyramids and the spectacular treasures of the Egyptian Museum that should place Cairo on anyone’s travel list.


IstanbulIstanbul, Turkey

It’s in Europe and in Asia and it’s the place that mostly mixes East and West in the Middle East. A great imperial capital for almost sixteen centuries, this is old Constantinople, still filled with architectural splendor. There’s the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia and other great cultural attractions, but today Istanbul is also a cosmopolitan city that mixes tradition and modern sophistication. End your visit by overlooking the Bosphorus and the entire city from a rooftop bar.


PetraPetra, Jordan

All of Jordan (with the exception of the unattractive capital  ) is filled with magic and wonder, culminating in Petra. This ancient city hewn from rock is unlike anywhere else on earth, with great sculpted temples created by desert tribes. This is one of the most remarkable cities ever built, and it’s especially spectacular as the sun sets and at night.


DubaiDubai, Emirates

The city of the future is already a city of the present. It’s all about the new and the newer, the big and the bigger, and trying to outdo itself and the competition. Hoping to become the great modern metropolis, it’s now one of the world’s main city destinations, home to the world’s grandest hotels on a magnificent waterfront location. Visiting Dubai is getting a glimpse of the future.



Being in this fascinating city is going back 3000 years in history. It’s the spiritual centre of the world, holy to the three great monotheistic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Whatever your religion (and even if you don’t have one), you can’t help becoming intrigued by the life and architecture of the place, as you go through a maze of alleys and bazaars.

The rendition of its findings follow; the costs of a romantic picnic were calculated for a couple of people, in cities around the world and as you can see, below, differences are quite obvious in the infographic picture.



Pyrrhic Victory

Pyrrhic Victory

I find it difficult to write about my subject for the week so I will start where I feel more comfortable; in ancient history.  In 279 BC King Pyrrhus of Epirus won the second of two victories against the ascendant Roman Empire, this was impressive except that Plutarch records that he had lost his friends, commanders and so many of his men that his country was all but destroyed.  The term, ` Pyrrhic Victory ’ is an expression that loosely means that you might have won something but it has gained you nothing or that everyone has lost.  This is very is much an expression that comes to mind when thinking of the First World War.

Friday was the anniversary of the start of the battle of the Somme, infamous as being the bloodiest day in British history.   It is said that the opening barrage was heard in London, which sounds incredible, but possible given that much of southern of England was quiet and agrarian.  Royalty and heads of state paid their respects yesterday to young men sent to their deaths by royalty and heads of state.  Millions of people are still horrified and saddened by the awful unnecessarily prolonged suffering of `men’ still likely to be at school today.

I saw the old film version of the book `All Quiet on the Western front,’ last night, it mirrors the experiences of a German soldier but it could have been written by any soldier at all.  Life in the home` countries was never the same again but the brunt was borne by young men.

Bataille de la Somme : Monument britannique de Thiepval.

Bataille de la Somme : Monument britannique de Thiepval.

I suppose everyone has their own way of remembering the past but I am most struck by the village monuments across Britain (and everywhere else).  They contain mostly names, not lengthy diatribes because what mattered most were names.  Many men did not have graves and so there was nowhere to record their deaths but there is more to the monuments.  The stone names were so important because most young men could never have children to carry on their names in living form.  It is sad today that we usually cannot put a face to the name on the stone but perhaps we could slow our steps as we pass and see the once hopeful young people beyond the cold, faded lettering.

I should add that even for soldiers old enough to have children there is a sense in which the stone writing is a sad reflection of the fact that they will not be making their mark in the world.

The world where a great number of these soldiers come from were as elaborated on by :

  1. The Role Of Empire And Commonwealth Troops During The Battle Of The Somme edited by Jessica Talarico .
  1. Volunteers put the Battle of the Somme in our midst by James Pickford .

A typical war memorial

A WWII typical war memorial

Artefact, as archaeologists call it

Artefact, as archaeologists call it

Back to the Past

An object only becomes a mere object or an artefact, as archaeologists call it, when it becomes divorced from its original context by time, distance, or cultural change.  For example, if the goddess statue is in the temple being worshipped, it is just that but when a people who do not believe come across it; it becomes an artefact.    

This week my attention was caught by the restoration of an Ancient Egyptian tomb, not a royal person, this time but an important servant.

Archaeology is an enthusiasm of mine but the topic will always be controversial because historically it often entailed looting by military conquest or a form of intellectual souvenir hunting for the wandering rich.  In the same way that trophy prisoners were displayed so were cultural artefacts.  Countless metal items must have been melted down for cash by people who found no meaning in them but in rarer cases these items were recognised as treasures and were proudly displayed.

The famous lions of St Mark’s Square in Venice, for example, were looted from Byzantium.  Perhaps there is some sense in which the new dominant civilizations try to identify with the glorious past of an older civilization as the Romans did with Troy.

We do seem to have a need to find a connection to the past, cultural, or genealogical.   Modern attitudes to the past probably share a lot of these common themes to a lesser or greater extent. Fortunately, however, we have also recently inherited a Victorian belief in the need for public education and the right of all the experience their heritage first hand and make of it what they will.

Flinders Petrie

Flinders Petrie in Egypt

The Victorians also gave us Archaeology as a science.   The father of modern Archaeology is generally reckoned to be William Flinders Petrie (alas, not a direct relation). Flinders-Petrie treasured the small objects, the trivial household things that were often overlooked.  He could sequence them by observing subtle changes in style and technology.  Many items became, for example, more ornate and complicated as time went on.  The Petrie Museum is in London but much is available to see online.



Flinders-Petrie, in turn mentored many of the next generation of Egyptologists including Howard Carter discoverer of course, of the fantastical Tuthankhamun’s tomb.

Pretty much everyone has seen images the famous death mask, perhaps the most beautiful object ever made by human hands.

Britain, however, is not devoid of archaeological itself.  Unfortunately, our climate, is not ideal for the preservation of much.  Most of our buildings were wood and little of it survives unless waterlogged like the 2000 mile long Sweet- track, in Somerset.  Of course, the great icon of Britain, Stonehenge, stands tall and plain to see.



Some problem in Britain’s ancient people was that, in common with many indigenous societies, there was some belief that you should not leave permanent evidence of your existence since the world belonged to the gods of nature.    Much UK archaeology involves looking at discolouration in earth to find post holes of buildings.   Nonetheless, in 1939 a land owner had a dream about some mounds on her land at Sutton Hoo and asked a local archaeologist to investigate.  What he found was the grave of Ragnar a 7th Century Saxon king untouched.  This not only contained a great treasure but also proved the tales of riches in the contemporary fable, Beowulf, as no tall story.  This grave is also known for its famous death mask.

We can now see the faces of people thousands of years ago, we can see how they lived, what they ate, how they worked and we can even read their letters.  Technology moved and now we do not even unwrap mummies to see inside; CT scans used in medicine can do that from the outside.  In addition, thanks to forensic science we now can do DNA analysis too.   We also have aerial archaeology that finds sites from the air, noting patterns of crop growth which might leave the shape of a dwelling in times of drought.

Archaeology’s relationship with other sciences in not all one way, however, the police now employ forensic archaeologists, for example, who are able to notice subtle soil changes indicating graves, amongst other things.  In many ways, archaeology and forensic science are only separated by the fact that one looks at the recent past and the other the distant.  I do think it is vital to preserve the distant past because we can learn what sustains civilizations and what destroys them.   Many civilizations have died but I think it shows respect to the lives of the people to preserve what we can.  Personally, however, I feel a wonder at the things I have in common with people thousands of years ago and a fascination with the differences.