Before most of the Egyptian Capital’s residents wake up, Waleed Ramadan, had already had breakfast, got dressed and is ready to go to work. He waits for a bus to take him from his house, in the Eastern outskirts of Cairo, further into the desert where an Egyptian dream is building up, The New Administrative Capital.
Waleed Ramadan Waiting for his Work Bus at Shorok City, East of Cairo –Photo by Ashraf EL Mahrouky – CGTN
The journey to the Central Business District (CBD) takes about an hour. Although the landscape is mostly desert, the 33-year-old engineer knows that he’s close when he looks at the sky. Several kilometers away he can see the silhouette of 20 buildings piercing the clouds as Egypt enters the world of skyscrapers for the first time in history.
CBD Towers appear in the desert horizon New Administrative Capital – Photo by Ashraf EL Mahrouky – CGTN
Ramadan is a technical engineer at China State Construction Engineering Corporation, the company leading the CBD construction. It is the biggest project on the Blet and Road Initiative.
“When I learned that CSCEC signed the contract with Egypt for this project. I focused my efforts to approach them for a job opportunity. Thank God, they called me for an interview. I started work from the very beginning, since the digging began,” said Ramadan.
Waleed Ramadan on CSCEC bus on his way to CBD – Photo by Ashraf EL Mahrouky – CGTN
CSCEC gave the young Egyptian, the experience of a lifetime. The CBD is going to be the landmark of the New Egyptian capital.The project includes twenty high-rises built over more than 500 thousand meters square of land area and 1.92 million square meters of construction.Egypt has never seen anything of that magnitude.
CBD will be the business hub for the New Administrative Capital – Photo by CSCEC
The iconic tower is the most remarkable building in the project. 385.8 meters high, it’s the tallest tower on Africa.It is made up of 78 floors that will include business offices, residential apartments, a hotel and government buildings.
After just three and a half years, the construction of the tower and all the other buildings are now complete; what remains is just the finishing.
CBD Iconic Tower – Photo by CSCEC
It’s a remarkable progress given the impact the COVID19 pandemic had on businesses. Chang Weicai, the General Manager of CSCEC Egypt said that work was barely interrupted.
“Since the project started in 2018, CBD has been in normal progress. Even in the tensest times at the beginning of 2020 during the COVID19 pandemic, the progress rate was reduced but the construction never stopped,” he proudly indicated.
CSCEC Egypt GM Chang Weicai Speaking to Adel EL Mahrouky CGTN Reporter – Photo by Ashraf EL Mahrouky – CGTN
The construction site went into full lockdown when the Pandemic started. Thousands of engineers and workers stayed on site for nearly nine months, working around the clock, only communicating with families virtually.
“Sometimes work continued for 24 hours straight, to keep up with the time schedule set for us,” Ramadan remembers.
Waleed Ramadan with CSCEC colleagues reviewing CBD plans –Photo by Ashraf EL Mahrouky - CGTN
To run a 3.8 billion US dollars project non-stop during the peak of a massive interruption to global supply chains was a phenomenal achievement. CSCEC said they had to modify their usual workflow to keep up with the emerging global challenges at the time.
“The global supply chain issues had a great impact on the project. We’ve quickly taken measures to make us flexible at meeting these changes by choosing our materials from alternate providers so the impact on construction progress would be minimal,” said Weicai.
CSCEC Provides Skills Development Training for Egyptian Workers & Engineers – Photo by Ashraf EL Mahrouky CGTN
Like most developmental projects between China and Egypt, exchange of knowledge and transfer of Chinese technology is a fundamental aspect of CBD. For this purpose, CSCEC established the Luban institute. It’s a training facility that aims at lifting the technical capabilities of Egyptians working with the company in building the business hub of Egypt’s future capital.
Weicai said that such educational program could greatly develop the construction sector in Egypt.
“We set up this training institution… to train local workers and engineers and to cultivate their technical skills. Our aim was to empower them with the actual needs of the project. Egypt is strong in the construction field. The time Egyptians spent here in the CBD project has given them a lot of experiences. I believe that after the completion of this project the level of construction engineering in Egypt will see a big improvement.”
CBD created some 30,000 Jobs through partnerships with 300 Egyptian Companies – Photo by Ashraf EL Mahrouky CGTN
Ramadan concurred, “It’s the first time Egypt enters the field of skyscrapers. We started with the iconic tower. We technology that is new to us in Egypt, like the climbing formwork. Luffing tower cranes were used for the first time in Egypt as well… and many more techniques and materials… This project transferred a huge amount of Chinese expertise in the construction field. We’ve benefited a lot.”
More than 300 Egyptian companies have joined CSCEC in this project creating some 30,000 jobs.
CBD iconic tower is made up of 78 floors, 385.8 meters high – Photo by Ashraf EL Mahrouky – CGTN
In 2016 Egypt and China celebrated 60 years over their diplomatic ties, which President Xi Jinping and President Abdelfattah EL Sisi upgraded to comprehensive strategic partnership.During the Celebrations the two countries signed the agreement to award the CBD project to CSCEC. It became an outstanding landmark that will always be a reminder of the strength of ties between Egypt and China.
CBD centers the New Administrative Capital –Photo by Ashraf EL Mahrouky - CGTN