El-Sisi’s order to paint Egypt’s ‘uncivilized’ buildings puzzles residents

President El-Sisi has led a drive to make Cairo and Egypt more beautiful. (AFP file photo)
Updated 25 January 2019
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El-Sisi’s order to paint Egypt’s ‘uncivilized’ buildings puzzles residents

  • Buildings in cities must be painted “dusty colors,” while coastal buildings will take on shades of blue
  • Egyptians question whether cosmetic improvements to buildings should  be a top priority

CAIRO: A decree from Egypt’s president to paint all the country’s red brick buildings in an effort to make the country more beautiful has been criticised by residents.

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has ordered buildings in cities must be painted “dusty colors,” while coastal buildings will take on shades of blue, according to the decree.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said the buildings will be colored based on a scheme reflective of the area.

“The plan is to have unified colors for the buildings instead of this uncivilized scene,” Madbouly told a cabinet meeting last week.

Provincial leaders have been told how crucial it is to improve the appearance of urban and rural settlements.

According to Madbouly, each governorate will have a certain color scheme.

Governors will be given deadlines and those who don’t comply with the decree will be fined.

The decree comes as a part of a move to improve and restore the overall appearance of Egypt’s different governorates.

But many Egyptians have questioned whether cosmetic improvements to buildings should  be a top priority for a government of a country facing a massive housing crisis.

“Enforcing monetary penalties on people to have more dusty-colored buildings sounds problematic to me,” Ahmed Mostafa, a Cairo resident, told Arab News. “Painting buildings will not help solve Egypt’s housing problem. There are millions of homeless people who can’t even find a red brick building to live in.”

The changes already have started in Khedival Cairo are, with painters and workers on-call to paint the buildings.

Red-brick building are common in the Egyptian capital, accommodating up to 11 million people - nearly two thirds of the vast city’s population. 

Urban planning expert David Sims, author of “Understanding Cairo: The Logic of a City Out of Control,” said there are an estimated 10 red-brick buildings in Egypt.

last year, the Egyptian government vowed to eliminate slum neighborhoods from Egypt and to put an end to informal housing by the end of 2019. The slum areas house up to 40 percent of the Egyptian population. Approximately 14 billion Egyptian pounds ($782 million) was allocated to complete the project.


Netanyahu and Pompeo vow to counter Iranian aggression

Updated 3 min 47 sec ago
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Netanyahu and Pompeo vow to counter Iranian aggression

JERUSALEM: Top US diplomat Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Wednesday to counter Iranian “aggression” as the two met in Jerusalem just weeks ahead of Israel’s elections.
Pompeo was on a regional tour focused largely on Iran, but the meeting and his warm words on Netanyahu’s leadership will likely be seen as support from US President Donald Trump’s administration amid the Israeli premier’s re-election fight.
Netanyahu, facing a stiff challenge from a centrist alliance in April 9 polls whilst under threat of indictment for corruption, will next week visit Washington, where he will meet twice with Trump.
Pompeo’s visit offered the right-wing premier an opportunity to burnish his security and diplomatic credentials — both key planks of his re-election campaign.
In comments after Pompeo’s arrival, Netanyahu said Trump’s pressure on Israel’s main enemy Iran was already having an effect, referring to his withdrawal from the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers and Washington’s reimposition of sanctions.
“We need to increase it, we need to expand it, and together the United States and Israel are working in close coordination to roll back Iranian aggression in the region and around the world,” he said.
Pompeo noted a Middle East conference in Warsaw last month that included Arab nations as well as Israel, saying the discussions involved efforts “to stop Iran’s regional rampage” among other issues.
The US secretary of state also spoke of Iranian calls for Israel’s destruction.
“With such threats a daily reality of Israeli life, we maintain our unparallelled commitment to Israel’s security and firmly support your right to defend yourself,” he said.
Netanyahu reiterated his pledge to keep Iran from entrenching itself militarily in neighboring Syria, where the Islamic republic backs President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Israel has carried out hundreds of air strikes there against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah targets.
“There is no limitation to our freedom of action, and we appreciate very much the fact that the United States backs up our actions as we do them,” Netanyahu said.
Pompeo’s stay in Jerusalem also included a four-way meeting with Netanyahu, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades on Wednesday night.
The discussions were to include plans to build a natural gas pipeline from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe.
Pompeo, who later travels to Lebanon, kicked off his regional tour in Kuwait where he met Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.
He is pushing for a greater role for the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA), a US-sponsored Arab NATO-style bloc aimed at uniting Washington’s Arab allies against Tehran.
Pompeo said before his arrival that his trip to Israel had nothing to do with politics, saying the “relationship matters, no matter who the leaders are.”
No meetings with Netanyahu’s opponents are scheduled, and the secretary of state will not meet with representatives of the Palestinian Authority.
Trump’s administration has taken a series of steps that the Palestinian Authority has deemed so hostile that it now refuses any contact with the US administration.
They included cutting most US aid to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.
President Donald Trump’s decision in December 2017 to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israeli delighted Netanyahu’s government.
But it enraged Palestinians, who want to make the eastern, mainly Palestinian part of the city the capital of their future state.
Pompeo’s two-day visit to Jerusalem also includes a stop at the new US embassy, which was transferred from Tel Aviv on Trump’s orders last year.
A shift in semantics and policy has also marked the Trump term.
The US has ceased to refer to the Golan Heights as “Israeli-occupied” and instead calls the territory seized from Syria “controlled” by Israel — a change seen by some as a prelude to US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the strategic plateau.