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Fighting a Housing Crisis, Egypt Builds Towers in the Desert

A photographer captures these monumental dwellings in all their surreal detail.
relates to Fighting a Housing Crisis, Egypt Builds Towers in the Desert
Manuel Alvarez Diestro

Egypt is in the throes of a severe housing shortage, with people so desperate for shelter they're building hundreds of thousands of illegal, sometimes rickety buildings that the government promptly dynamites. But one thing the country has an abundance of is lonesome desert, and developers are turning there to construct immense projects that stick out in the emptiness like skyscrapers on Mars.

London-based photographer Manuel Alvarez Diestro has a yen for the monumental—he's documented the mountain-eating cemeteries of Hong Kong and satellite dish-crusted apartment towers of Algiers. So naturally he was interested in the colossal structures rising on the outskirts of Egyptian cities. His recent journey to Cairo, Alexandria, Hurghada, and other 'burgs has resulted in "New Cairo," an eerie, almost surreal look at Egypt's manifest destiny. Great walls of residential projects teeter on the edge of the desert, with nothing apparent on the other side but vast expanses of sand.