The Great Congested Cairo: The Social Impact of Urbanization on the Cairene Metropolis

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Cairo, a stressful city life. The magnitude of Cairo’s congestion surpassed one’s potential imagination. This metropolis hosts more than one-fifth of the Egypt’s total population. This significance of this monster haunting each and every Egyptian is above and beyond a traffic concern. In fact, it incorporates many social layers portraying social segments and demographic trends in the Egyptian society.

Traffic congestion in our beloved Cairene City is going from bad to worse. In fact, to reach an important meeting on time, one shall at least double the anticipated commuting time to survive unexpected delays. A typical day on the road would look like this: cars circulating randomly, cars parked on the streets blocking the traffic, unexpected road crossings of pedestrians, sidewalks blocked by vendors, badly managed u-turns and last but not least, uncivilized behavior by minibuses drivers. This is the true definition of an urban disaster.

One shall wonder what could possibly have happened to cause this metropolitan tragedy. Demography, which is the structure and the composition of the human population, is one possible illustrative aspect of this dramatic situation. In fact, the concentration of control, resources and socio-economic activities in Cairo, created a centralized social order whereby the whole population aspires the citizenship. Citizenship, here, in other words, does not solely imply the possession of the Egyptian nationality, but also entails the state of being vested with the rights, duties and privileges of belonging to the city life, in other words, an ambition of becoming a civilized cosmopolitan. This dream includes a wish list where the construction of family with a cosmopolitan trophy wife is on the top of it.

In that sense, a huge influx of Felahin aspiring urbanization led to the arrival of a substantial movement of rural habitants to Cairo, which is the process by which people move from rural areas to urban areas to acquire the citizenship of the Cairene metropolitan.

This social phenomenon led to the formation of new rural culture threatening urbanized citizens, ending up in Cairene people alternating to reclaiming the desert to launch the idea of a compound. This created the concept of a gated community where actual citizens of Cairo feel uncomfortable with this new set of values, norms and customs. In that sense, one could possibly argue that the gated communities emerged as a rebellious act to the arrival of rural habitants.

The right to the city is problematic in that sense, as one shall question, who has the right to the city? Reclaiming this right entails the extent to which one’s possession of power allows him or her to this citizenship. Power, here, is multi-dimensional as it is not solely based on financial capability but rather on a cultural one, as it is rooted in fact, on one’s ability to assimilate and become a civilized cosmopolitan.

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