Egypt has built a multi-billion-pound “furniture city” near the mouth of the Nile in a hope to aid growth by reigniting success in the furniture industry.
The aim of the 3.6 billion pound ($230 million) project, and the other planned specialized parks, is to boost economic growth and create jobs badly needed in a country where about a third of the 100 million people live in poverty.
The idea is “to gather all the furniture makers and workshop owners to increase production and exports”, said Bassem Nabil, chief executive of the Damietta Furniture City.
However only 400 of the 1,400 newly built workshops have been sold so far.
“There is not a worker among us who will go to that city over there,” said Othman Khalifa, the owner of a carpentry workshop in an old neighborhood of Damietta. “They should have first come and consulted the people.”
At least half a dozen craftsmen said they would not move to the new city, citing the proximity of their current workshops to their homes and, at 300,000 pounds to be paid over 10 years to buy a workshop, the relatively high costs of being based in the new city.
The furniture city stretches for 1.39 million square metres, filled with beige and orange concrete workshops trimmed with aluminium siding, resembling car garages built side-by-side.
The park remains sparsely populated, however, and only a handful of workshops are ti be seen up and running.
President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi expressed surprise that demand for workshops was not stronger.