Connecting Cairo to the Nile: Opportunities for Public Access and Alternative Transportation

Mathias Kondolf, Amir Gohar, Louise Mozingo, Rachael Marzion, Krishna Balakrishan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


If Egypt is ‘the gift of the Nile’, certainly the Nile is the heart of Cairo, Egypt’s greatest city. Ironically, however, over the 20th century, the Nile became inaccessible to ordinary Cairenes along most of its banks, which are now occupied by private clubs, restaurants, hotels, police and military installations, and other uses off-limits to the public. Cairo’s densely-packed inhabitants face a severe lack of public open space. The few points of access to the river (including bridges) are heavily used. Elsewhere, we see the world’s great cities are increasingly developing their waterfront as great public spaces and building continuous trails that serve as alternative transportation routes. What is the potential for Cairo to reconnect with its river? As an initial step, we explored whether it would be feasible to complete a continuous bankside trail along the Nile from Maadi to the city centre, to improve lateral connections from the river to nearby neighborhoods, cultural sites, and metro stations, and to expand ferry service on the river. In a collaboration between Cairo University, American University Cairo, and University of California, Berkeley, 23 faculty and students systematically surveyed 12 km of the east bank of the Nile from Maadi to the city centre, measuring river-bank topography, recording adjacent building heights and conditions, and assessing existing and potential connections to adjacent neighborhoods, cultural sites, and transit nodes. Based on these data, the team developed plans for a continuous bankside trail (from Maadi to Tahrir Square) and expanded ferry service, and illustrated the potential for connecting adjacent parts of the city to the river with detailed plans for Old Cairo and Athur El Nabi neighborhoods. Our field data and analysis demonstrate that a continuous trail is feasible, as is a series of riverside parks. Our results demonstrate that significant benefits could accrue from increased access to the waterfront, environmental improvements, pedestrian pathways, and attractive public spaces. Next steps would involve community, stakeholder, and landowner outreach, and development of detailed plans to implement the vision. Reclaiming the banks of the Nile for the people of Cairo will provide much needed green space and make the river once again the heart of a dynamic and richly-textured city.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDemocratic Transition and Sustainable Communities
Subtitle of host publicationOvercoming Challenges Through Innovative Practical Solutions
EditorsWafaa Nadim
Place of PublicationDüren
PublisherShaker Verlag GmbH, Germany
ISBN (Print)9783844023664, 3844023666
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes
EventSustainable Building Conference - Cairo, Egypt
Duration: 6 Nov 20137 Nov 2013


ConferenceSustainable Building Conference
Abbreviated titleSB13


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