“Now this is not the end; it is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
– Winston Churchill, November 1942
Al-Alamein is a town in northern Egypt, located on the Mediterranean Sea 106 kilometres west of Alexandria and 240 kilometres northwest of Cairo. For most of us who remember our modern history classes in school, this place was the site for one of the decisive battles of the Second World War in October 1942.
After a long series of defeat and retreats, the British Eight Army, led by General Bernard Montgomery, defeated the combined German Afrika Korps and Italian Army, led by General Erwin Rommel. The victory led to the retreat and ultimate defeat of the Afrika Korps and the German/Italian surrender in North Africa in May 1943.
Already in Greek-Roman times, El-Alamein was known as “Leukaspis”, which means the white shell. It was named so because of its beautiful white sandy beaches, where Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was worshipped. In those times it was a thriving commercial port for olive, wine and wheat exports, with a population of 15,000 residents at its peak.
Al-Alamein of today has a population of about 8,000 people and is a popular seaside resort. With hotels, such as the Porto Marina shown below, the town is a popular tourist destination. Al-Alamein was once described by Winston Churchill as having the best climate in the world and it is one of the favourite sea, sun and sand upscale destinations for domestic Egyptian tourists.
Foreigners are following the trend and invade the upscale resorts that are growing like mushrooms on this stretch of coast, and frequent charter flights operate from main European cities to the new El-Alamein International Airport.
Today Al-Alamein New City (ANC) is one of Egypt’s new national projects, with the intention to utilise a leading-edge approach for planning of economically self-sustaining cities in the country, in order to reduce the pressure of population growth in Cairo. The ANC represents a new challenge at the political, and sustainable development levels and it is considered to be a pilot project aiming at fostering the development of unexploited regions designed to attract investors, employment, and population.
United Nations Habitat have been asked by the Egyptian Government to provide technical support in addressing the development of the ANC, to promote sustainable urban form and function for new city developments in order to provide healthy and viable communities. As a first step, Bearing Consulting in Africa has been selected by United Nations to assist with a strategic and macro-economic assessment, to recommend potential competitive industry sectors and critical conditions for their success, as foundation for a coherent development strategy. We initiate this new project in December 2015 and will work on the assignment until June next year.