Chapter 1. Relocation and the Creation of a Global City
2. As will become clear from this brief background, history privileges the role of political leaders in the making of cities. There is very little information on the role of ordinary dwellers in the building of Cairo—or other cities, for that matter. [BACK]
3. Although it was not mentioned in national newspapers, people also stated that part of the group was relocated to Madinet el-Saalam, in northeastern Cairo. [BACK]
4. Relocation to construct facilities for tourists is also common in other parts of Egypt. In one village near Luxor, clashes erupted between the police and the villagers over the demolition of houses built on “land claimed by the state as archaeological sites” (Economist, January 31, 1998: 8). The villagers were to be removed “to make way for tourists. Villagers note with bitter irony that while their houses are being torn down, other buildings are going up—including, recently, a police station” (8). The confrontation led to the death of four people, and twenty-nine were injured. [BACK]
7. The image of Egypt and how the country is viewed by others is of great importance for most Egyptians. See Diase (1996) for a discussion of the “anger” of the educated about “media programs that were allegedly giving audiences a very negative picture of Egypt” (95). [BACK]
9. Negative constructions of the urban poor have been produced historically and used to justify different policies implemented by various governments. See Mitchell (1988) for an analysis of such constructions under the British colonization of Egypt. See also Wright (1983) for an interesting discussion of the poor in the United States and how they have been blamed for problems in big cities since the last century. See Mele (2000) for a discussion of the various stereotypes and negative representations of New York's poor used to legitimize the planning and restructuring of parts of the city's spaces. [BACK]
10. The term used by the minister was ghawazi, which refers to female dancers but indicates that they are also willing to perform sexual services. [BACK]
11. The language is similar to that used around the middle of the twentieth century in the United States that emphasized “sanitation, ventilation, privacy, and order” in the construction of public housing (Wright 1983: 232; see also Mele 2000). [BACK]
12. Projects with similar objectives are well known in other countries such as Brazil, where officials assumed that “human ‘recuperation’ would follow physical rehabilitation” (Perlman 1982: 229). [BACK]
13. National newspapers emphasized that the relocated population consisted mainly of working-class Egyptians. Each person who was interviewed was questioned by the president and the journalists about his work and about job opportunities that were available in al-Zawiya al-Hamra. [BACK]
14. A title that Sadat acquired among others, such as the Hero of Victory, the Hero of Crossing (in reference to the crossing of the Suez Canal in the 1973 war), the Hero of Peace, and the Hero of Democracy. [BACK]
15. It is worth noting that after a few months, both newspapers stopped publishing anything against the project. They both stressed its positive impact on people's life and reported on Sadat's visits to the area. In mid-1981, however, al-Sha‘b started attacking the project and used it to argue against the government's attempts to remove other parts of Bulaq. [BACK]
16. Although part of the relocated population used to occupy the state land (hikr), the ownership rights were blurred over many years of residency in the area, and house “owners” got compensation regardless of their ownership status. A law was issued to strip ownership from the people and give the Governorate of Cairo the right to decide on the compensation offered to people. [BACK]
17. The chants of the demonstrators are documented in Abdel Razaq (1979: 81–82). I translate some of them here:
- He [Sadat] wears the latest fashions while ten of us live in one room.
- Thieves of the infitah, the people are hungry, not comfortable.
- It is not enough that we wear sackcloth, they also want to take away our bread.
18. The emphasis on wide streets as signs of modernity in the new location cannot be missed here. [BACK]
19. Recently, the new governor of Cairo revived the idea of investing in the
20. In 1997, a conflict erupted between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the residents of Bulaq who lived near the ministry, which relocated its building to Maspiro in 1992. The ministry was trying to “beautify” the area by removing some of the houses that surrounded its building. It was offering compensations and/or housing options in other parts of the city, but residents of Maspiro refused these offers and decided to go court to cancel an administrative decision that confiscated their land for “the public good” (al-Hayat, August 7, 1979: 1). [BACK]