Egypt’s Housing Crisis

The Shaping of Urban Space

Yahia Shawkat
Foreword by David Sims

Along with football and religion, housing is a fundamental cornerstone of Egyptian life: it can make or break marriage proposals, invigorate or slow d

English edition
1 November 2020
312 pp.
Illustrations 52 b&w and 18 tables, integrated
15 x 23cm
ISBN 9789774169571
For sale worldwide


Along with football and religion, housing is a fundamental cornerstone of Egyptian life: it can make or break marriage proposals, invigorate or slow down the economy, and popularize or embarrass a ruler. Housing is political. Almost every Egyptian ruler over the last eighty years has directly associated himself with at least one large-scale housing project. It is also big business, with Egypt currently the world leader in per capita housing production, building at almost double China’s rate, and creating a housing surplus that counts in the millions of units.
Despite this, Egypt has been in the grip of a housing crisis for almost eight decades. From the 1940s onward, officials deployed a number of policies to create adequate housing for the country’s growing population. By the 1970s, housing production had outstripped population growth, but today half of Egypt’s one hundred million people cannot afford a decent home.
Egypt’s Housing Crisis takes presidential speeches, parliamentary reports, legislation, and official statistics as the basis with which to investigate the tools that officials have used to ‘solve’ the housing crisis—rent control, social housing, and amnesties for informal self-building—as well as the inescapable reality of these policies’ outcomes. Yahia Shawkat argues that wars, mass displacement, and rural–urban migration played a part in creating the problem early on, but that neoliberal deregulation, crony capitalism and corruption, and neglectful planning have made things steadily worse ever since. In the final analysis he asks, is affordable housing for all really that hard to achieve?



To read an excerpt, click here.

For the Table of Contents, click here.



MARCH 9, 2022 





Contents List of Figures List of Tables Foreword David Sims Acknowledgments Abbreviations and Acronyms Timeline Introduction: The Politics of Shelter in Egypt 1. Etymology of a Crisis 2. Self-builders 3. Old to New Rent 4. ‘Model’ Villages for ‘Model’ Citizens 5. Government Housing, a Brief History 6. Government Housing Today 7. Housing Unravels Epilogue: Back to Homes Notes Bibliography Index

Yahia Shawkat

Yahia Shawkat is a housing and urban policy researcher who specializes in legislative analysis, data visualization, and historical mapping. He is research coordinator for 10 Tooba, a research studio he cofounded in 2014 that focuses on spatial justice and fair housing. He also edits the Built Environment Observatory, an open knowledge portal identifying deprivation, scrutinizing state spending, and advocating equitable urban and housing policies. His work has been published in Egypte Monde Arabe and Architecture_MPS, and he has contributed to Mada Masr, Open Democracy, Heinrich Boell, and the Middle East Institute among others.

David Sims

David Sims is an economist and urban planner who has been based in Egypt since 1974. He is the author of Understanding Cairo: The Logic of a City out of Control (AUC Press, pbk, 2012) and Egypt’s Desert Dreams: Development or Disaster? (AUC Press, pbk, 2018).