Sunday, 15 March 2015

DDS (***see new link added)

Egypt unveils plans to build new capital east of Cairo

"Egypt’s direction of development is vitally important, though who will benefit from it remains an open question. For all the buzzwords at the conference regarding shared benefits and economic inclusion, Sisi has so far adopted a wearily familiar austerity playbook; although foreign investment could potentially be harnessed for the good of Egypt’s 90 million-strong population, as long as the state and its economy continues to be under the iron grip of military generals who brook no opposition and corruption continues to run rampant, it is hard to see how Sisi’s open-for-business Egypt will turn out any different from Mubarak’s."
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DDS: The Dreaded Dubai Syndrome. First criteria: Build higher. Build higher. Build higher.

Before I get reprimanded for coining this phrase I should make it clear: Dubai (so I hear) may well be a grand and wealthy habitat for many a native as well as for many a visitor, perhaps even a very welcoming one at that~ and although I hurl no abuse of any kind towards it, I do HOWEVER ask it simply to contain itself.
The DDS is not Dubai's fault.
Dubai strives to endorse its own measures of progress, meriting its own rewards and therefore far be it from me to spurn its efforts or belittle them.
The DDS is the fault of those who follow it blindly and who furthermore defy the rules of nature in order to do so.
The ones who both willfully even if unwittingly ignore the solid, beautiful, wondrous nature of their own environment and wish to replace it with glitz and plainly speaking: a show of pseudo-wealth.
Those bedazzled followers who see an elegant space and convert it to one that screams affluence; those who see the classic features of a hotel as one to crank up a notch by giving it that DDS vibe; those who see a functional and purely styled office space as one that must necessarily include visibly expensive upgrading and an eye-catching feature or two or else forever be disqualified.
Dubai: The invention of artificial pearls in 1926 and the Great Depression in 1929 caused a collapse in the international pearl market, which resulted in Sheikh Saeed looking for an alternative source of income and Dubai becoming one of the leading re-export ports in the world. In 1966, oil was discovered in Dubai, which changed the country beyond recognition and led to Dubai becoming the vibrant, modern, business-centred city-state it is today.
Visibly sophisticated both in technology and decor, Dubai has earned the above phrase. However there we have it. Perhaps it was that turnaround in economy that allowed it to sweep itself into the sky as if effortlessly led by a vision but one thing is more often than not left unsaid: that very direction it chose was only one of many it could have followed. 
For some time now, just as icing is to an already too sweet cake Egypt appears to adopt wherever it can that debilitating concept of high rise in the most disastrous fashion imaginable, brash and inharmonious with environment and even more alienating to the humans who have to endure being cut off from light and ever encroaching walls of cement.  

My responses are purely intuitive and naturally affected by what might indeed be discerning taste albeit acquired on a less than intellectual level. However there are those who can explain this phenomenon in a processed and well-linked up manner relating to their particular field of expertise. There are architects, designers and artists who avoid the DDS like the plague, knowing full well that it harbours germs of all that is non-organic and that more often than not go against the laws of simplicity and elegance, two prime features of harmony and well being intrinsic to purity of design. There are those who indeed abide by that, however they do not match up in number to those who don't.

And now here we have it: Cairo, a city so ancient and prolific in its history, so magnificent in its heritage, so opulent and wealthy in ways measured not only by strict, time-enduring criteria but by echoes that resonate in every Egyptian heart and in many who have visited and felt its energy. A city indescribably invigorating in spite of all the chaos that envelops it. It does not begin to compare with so many other far less inspiring capitals of the world. 
Yes, a capital it is and it appears inconceivable how any one in their right mind could possibly wish to take that title away from it.
All those who wish to escape the capital City of Cairo... by all means do so. By all means build new complexes, new resorts where some of the elite may set up and call it home, where the same wonderful weather and other favourable conditions Egypt offers all year, year in year out continue to exist; where traffic jams are minimised and where only the best services exist. Build yourselves the high rises you aspire to and see as a mark of progress and modernity so infinitely grand so as to come close to the Dubai you choose to so idolise. Build yourselves an idyll and call it what you will.


I could even add that perhaps, with just a little good will involved, some of the profits of a new city may reach the ghetto left behind... the capital written off, derelict and neglected, left to pick itself up with nothing but its own drained resources to rely upon. But saddest of all is the infinite emotional loss felt through such an extraordinary lack of appreciation expressed in the mere thought of its replacement.

It is that feeling of abandonment that hurts most. Amid plans to build that new metropole a rasping scream drifts across the sands: CAIRO, lie still ~ along with your treasures buried. Buried due to a lack of faith in your heritage and your incredible potential. 
Cairo, a city among cities, sucked dry by those who are out to exploit and abuse, pilfer and contaminate, trash...  and who have no desire to do other than just that. 
Cairo... be still, we hear you no more and perhaps if you just lie there and wait we might filter a little across and save you ~ but not before we have had our fill and not before we can convert you with our tender loving care linked affectionately to our so highly prized DDS.
Friday, April 12th 2013 AUC Tahrir Square Learning from Cairo: Panel 1: Urban Political Change: Southern Perspectives Video of Presentation by Khaled Fahmy.
Photo by: João Bolan *

** pic shared on FB by

*Photo submitted by Sara Habiba FB

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