The fight for Ramlet Bulaq

Ramlet Bulaq, also named by the French for more than 215 years as the “beautiful lake,” is a poor neighborhood located in the heart of Cairo on the Nile corniche. Living in this neighborhood are approximately 2,000 people who reside in mud houses that have been around for more than 90 years. On the edge of the neighborhood, two of the tallest towers in Egypt and a five star hotel stand in contrast to the slums. The towers have dozens of fancy cars outside, luxurious offices inside, and millions of pounds passing through its bank branches.

 Their story began in 1995, when investors came to the area and claimed a part of a poor neighborhood to build towers that directly overlooked the Nile. A conflict has arisen, as more investors showed ambition to obtain the rest of the land, a process that would eventually drive away the original population of this area. There have been different attempts to buy the land from the population, negotiating individually with the residents. Some gave up their land in exchange for little money, nowhere near the real price of the land. The price per square meter in this area is equal to about US$5,500 and investors offered only $600. Other residents, in order to avoid troubles for them and their families, gave their land and moved away from the pressure exerted by those with power and money. There have been ongoing cases in courts between the residents and the investors, in order for residents to legally claim their land. A court sentence was issued in favor of the residents, but the reality hasn’t changed and the fear of expulsion continues.

A women looks out her window as the Nile City Towers rise behind her.
A little girl playing in the alley.
Some residents of Ramlet Bulaq work in the garage for companies in Nile City Towers.
Demonstration of Ramlet Bulaq residents in front of the Ministry of Information against forced eviction.
A room in the Fairmont Nile City begins at $200 per day. In slums behind it the average income is about $80 per month.
A man sitting at the café which sells coffee for about LE2, while coffee inside the tower costs more than LE25
After more than three years in the courts, the court ruled the land was owned by the people living in Ramelt Bulaq
Abu Nesma, one of the area’s residents, holds a document stipulating his right of ownership, which states he has lived in his home for more than 20 years.
A women making kites and selling them as a source of income, after her son was arrested in the riots that took place in front of the towers.
A resident of Ramlet Bulaq asleep in the street. People in the area spend a lot of their time in the streets and in front of homes.
The entrance to the Nile City Towers mall.
A girl stands on the steps of her home.
Neighborhood youth gather in the only coffee shop in the area, which faces the rear facade of the towers.
The Fairmont Nile City hotel has two completely different panoramas: one with a Nile river view and the other with a view of dilapidated houses and slums.
Overview of Ramlet Bulaq.


Mahmoud Khaled 
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