The Beautiful Lake

In Cairo’s Ramlet Boulaq, residents live in poverty alongside glittering high-rise developments. Disputes have broken out over land ownership, and dreams of a better future have been dashed.

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The Beautiful Lake

Ramlet Boulaq is a deprived quarter three kilometers north of Tahrir Square, in Cairo. In the midst of the slum dwellings, rises the glittering new development of Nile City Towers—two massive high-rises incorporating top-class offices, a luxury hotel, and a shopping mall. The quarter has been the scene of action by local residents, protesting against what they say has been forced confiscation of their land, unfair compensation, and violent harassment from police and private security forces.

The development of Ramlet Boulaq dates back to the 1990s and early 2000s, on plots of land bought at what residents claim were unjustifiably low prices, exploiting their ignorance of the worth of their property. Further purchases by various developers met with resistance. In June 2012, the Egyptian government issued a decree confiscating land, and rehousing residents. Clashes continued, and in April 2013, Prime Minister Hesham Qandil signed an agreement with Egypt’s Slum Development Fund and the Cairo Governate to continue the evacuation of Ramlet Boulaq, and to move the development on a phase. Residents resisted and, with the help of civil society organizations, in August successfully filed a lawsuit revoking the decision.

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