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Many who have visted and/or lived in Cairo know about the typical places where every first time tourist should go: The Pyramids of Giza, the Egytpian Museum, a Faluka ride on the NIle, Khan Khalli Market, Old Islamic Cairo and Coptic Cairo, etc. TA contains a wealth of great information on these tourist destinations and more. But a new part of Cairo that is worth exploring is aptly named New Cairo.
First time visitors to Cairo should definitely focus on the more traditional tourist sites as seeing some of those breathtaking and ancient structures is a once in a lifetime experience but, if you are a regular visitor, or a first tme visitor with some spare time on your hands, then New Cairo should definitely be on your list.
New Cairo is basically a new subarb built in the eastern part of the desert.
Realizing that Cairo is getting unbearably crowded the government decided to embark on an amitious program to "expand" Cairo by creating a new self-contained city. In Arabic, this area is also known as El Quahira el Gideda (New Cairo), El Kattamiya or El Tagamaw el Khamis (the Fifth Settlement). Many upper class Egyptians as well as foreign workers have moved their families out to this area and for good reason.
Developers who bought land in this area have created large gated neighborhoods and built western style houses with large backyards and swimming pools. The weather there is noticeably cooler in the summer time (by at least 3-4 degrees celsius) and the air is much cleaner. The whole area is elevated (hence the cooler weather) and overlooks sprawling Cairo. Some of the more popular subdivisions and neighborhoods include El Rehab City, Kattamiya Heights and Arabella. The latter two include golf courses.
Many educational institutions have also taken advantage of the new and vast land to either build or relocate their campuses. Most famously, the American University in Cairo has moved its main campus there and other schools located there include Future University, the British School, the German School, the Canadian School and the American International School. The government has also recently moved the Police Academy there.
The area is also very convenient in that it is abutted by the Cairo Ring Road and provides easy transportation access to the Airport (15-20 min away), Maadi (20 min away), the Pyramids (35-45 min away), Downtown (35-45 min away) and Heliopolis and Nasr Cities (20 min away). It is also very close to the Ain el Shoukhna road which is a very modern new highway that leads to the Red Sea resort of Ain el Shoukhna and ultimately to Hurghada and El Gouna.
The only major hotel in the area is the beautiful JW Marriott in Mirage City but other hotels will be opening soon including Egypt's first Ikea.
So, what do you do when you're there? Well, think of it as a day trip away from the hustle and bustle of Cairo to a more serene and relaxing area. Go to the Meeting Point food court on 90 street right next to Future University where there are many great resturants, cafe's and ice cream shops and sit and chat with local students. Head over to the American University in Cairo, take a tour of the campus and check out their library and bookstore which has a vast selection of English books on the Arab world, Islam and the Middle East. If you like golf then book a tee time at the Kattamiya Heights golf course and then have lunch at their club house overlooking the pool.
Be aware though that this area is still under construction and although many of the facilites and infrastructure are already in place, there is still much to come. But enjoy touring a new and upcoming high end area of Cairo and enjoy just getting away from the hustle, bustle and traffic of Cairo.....if just for one day.