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Two Stories on Housing and Informality from Alexandria after 2011


Year published: 2022
Categories: Journal Article
URL Link: https://www.trialog-journal.de/en/journals/trialog-143-city-community-and-heritage-in-egypt-2011-2021/

Author / Authors:

  • Mohamed ElGamal



A few weeks after the revolutionary uprising in 2011, the Egyptian state proceeded with a (still ongoing) national housing programme. This programme, popularly known as the 'One-Million-Units Project', is a continuous strategy from the era of the former president Mubarak to offer affordable housing for the low and middle social strata. Like many other housing programmes, it did not – so far – achieve a balance between supply and demand (Shawkat 2020). Consequently, the private sector has continued to provide housing units to fill the gap. In many cases, especially following the uprising, the units provided by the private sector were characterised by different forms of informality. Either they were built without land titles on state-owned desert lands, without building rights/permits on privately owned agricultural lands, or without adhering to building regulations. This article looks at formal and informal housing patterns in the city of Alexandria after 2011, and is based on the author's personal experiences as a young representative of the lower-middle/middle class in search for an apartment. In addition to the empirical analyses, the article traces the change of the state's actions dealing with informal constructions. It concludes with a discussion on the question of how Alexandria is or is not witnessing the state's new housing position regarding informality patterns by creating a 'formal informality'. The dichotomy between informal and formal housing construction in Egypt is then discussed from a theoretical, empirical as well as legal point of view. The Egyptian state started by continuing, until early 2017, the pre-revolution strategies of categorising informal areas and providing some of them with basic urban and infrastructure services and demolishing others. Since 2019, it officially accepted informality by issuing the law of 'Reconciliation with Informal Buildings', but still continued with demolitions.

Trialog - A Journal for Planning and Building in a Global Context #143 “City, Community and Heritage in Egypt: 2011-2021” edited by Hebatalla Abouelfadl, Mirhan Damir, Mohamed ElGamal and Franziska Laue


  • Journal Article