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Hidden Benefits Of Azhar Park Project

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Sondos Mohamed Shaheen, 900051296, RHET 101 Essay 1, draft 3 6 March 2006 Motawy

Hidden benefits of the project The Al-Azhar Park Project, managed by Agha Khan Trust, defines its

objective as the rehabilitation of the Cairo suburb Darb el-Ahmar. This area lies between the eastern edge of the 12th century Ayubbid wall and the 15th century Mamluk 'City of the Dead', setting it in one of Cairo's most historical locations. However, this project has raised controversy because the new park requires local residents of the suburb to pay two Egyptian pounds to enter; but even at reduced prices, the economically disadvantaged inhabitants cannot afford to visit their neighborhood park. While some state that this is a problem because the park was supposed to serve the locals, in fact the high ticket price helps to significantly improve the community that they live in several aspects. First, the area changed from a derelict space, which was used as a landfill into a place of greenery providing environmental improvements. Also even though the park is inaccessible to the locals these people profit economically from the renovating project due to the increase in their property value and new job opportunities created by the gentrification that is made possible by the Agha Khan Trust.

Darb el-Ahmar is one of the poorest and the most populous areas in Cairo and it lacks many essential services, which were provided with the rehabilitation of the area. According to the Trust web site "The project for socioeconomic development of the neighborhood was conceived with the idea that the removal of former rubble dump and its metamorphosis into a park would have a catalytic effect on the general improvement of the district"( The Aga Kan trust for Culture gathered information about Darb el-Ahmar to know the most urgent needs. Agha Khan's website lists its priorities, including health care, training, microfinance, and housing rehabilitation. A garbage disposal system is being improved to increase sanitation, a clinic opened for the care of women and children. The training of some of the residents revived such lost skills as the manufacture of mashrabyya. Business loans have been approved to finance the production of furniture, shoe making, and tourist goods. The Trust is also rebuilding the Darb Shoughlan School and trying to rebuild 50 houses each year until 2007, thus providing further economical development for the community. Most importantly, the serious health hazard of the garbage land fill has been removed.

Although benefits have been created by the Agha Khan Trust , another method of stimulating cooperative growth comes from rebuilding houses. These homes that have a direct view of the park along the Ayyubid wall appeal to high-income buyers, and the funds from these sales gives locals more opportunities. This gentrification will result in more rebuilding of the suburb, setting an esthetic place for the remaining


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