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Egypt’s interim government accepts “Desert Development Corridor” plan

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image Area of the Desert Development Corridor plan for Egypt. Illustration: Boston University

Farouk El-Baz’s Development Corridor would open more living and agricultural space and create opportunities for many new jobs in Egypt.

Egypt’s interim government has adopted a plan for developing a 1,200 kilometer stretch of desert along the Nile River Valley and delta developed by Boston University geologist Dr. Farouk El-Baz.

The “Desert Development Corridor” plan includes the construction of an eight-lane superhighway, a railway, a water pipeline, and a power line. The goal of the infrastructure plan, estimated to cost about $24 billion, is to improve the water supply and open new land for agriculture, urban development, and tourism, said El-Baz.

Details of the project are in El-Baz’s book, Development Corridor: Securing a Better Future for Egypt, published in Cairo in 2007.

El-Baz, a native Egyptian, is a prominent research scientist and director of Boston University’s Center for Remote Sensing. He also served NASA’s Apollo lunar exploration program.

The university said El-Baz originally proposed the plan to Egypt’s former government in 1985. After Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down in early February, El-Baz traveled to Egypt to meet with government leaders and the general public to explain the plan and how it would “reinvigorate the country” and open up new living space near the Nile River.

“This project includes opening up a vast strip of Egypt just west of the narrow living area along the Nile that can be utilized in establishing housing communities, expanding agriculture, initiating industrial compounds, and enhancing the potential of tourism,” said El-Baz. “Most importantly, the activity opens up the possibility of a bright future for the young generation. One that is full of new opportunities where they may innovate and excel.”

El-Baz suggested that the government name an international board of trustees to run the program and seek initial funding from bonds to be offered to the Egyptian people who would own the project, according to El-Baz.

Subscribe to comments feed Comments (1 posted):

Zoheir Abouguendia on 04/05/2011 08:43:02
I have all the respect for Dr. Baz. I am afraid, however, that the way the "corridor of development" idea has been handled by many, including the media, is a disgrace. My understanding is that it is an idea to stimulate development thinking. Now we hear of statements like " a project ready with investors ..; the only way for Egypt development" .. Government approved it already?

In the sixties I was part of project called "the New Valley". It was described by people around President Naser as the New Valley parallel to the old valley and adding millions of acres of agricultural land and many communities. So I have some familiarity with the desert and oasis.
It seems to me that the first step is missing. No preliminary studies have been carried out, as far as I can see from what is written about it. No alternatives or other options have been considered and compared. Extremely expensive infrastructure alone does not mean or lead to development. You need well defined and reliable resources. Please do not tell me there is water of useable quality based on space imageries. How much and what kind of energy would be needed to implement such a mamoth project? Do not tell me all the details are available in a book. How many local egyptian scientists participated in evaluating tht concept or vision? (some old TV discussion programs can gives you an idea).

Let is not waste time and money on glorifying projects without proper, objective and unbiased investigations.
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