Visual Politics of an Urbanism: Press News on Egypt's New Administrative Capital City

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Submission Summary
The article’s core argument is that media not only communicates urban visions, but also recreates it for the purpose of producing exclusivity. This acknowledgment of media’s duality offers a greater understanding of larger issues at play, such as the influence of neoliberal forces on global and urban policies, property development practices, the real estate industry, the financialization of land, and the mediatization of new cities. Upon examining the case of the New Administrative Capital City project in Egypt, it was observed that the use of media exposes a virtual space that reinforces the physicality (and materiality) of urbanization in the country. This paper presents an inductive study that examines the politics of mediatization through focusing on the content of the Al-Ahram national press in relation to urban planning and development. Following a qualitative exploratory methodology, thematic analysis and critical discourse analysis were employed to investigate a sample of 111 news headlines between 2015 and 2019. In addition, unstructured interviews were conducted with urban and media experts. The analysis demonstrates a transformation in the way in which the project has been addressed via the press. Starting with the project's messaging in 2015 as a solution to Cairo’s urban challenges – such as traffic congestion, pollution, waste management, and lack of greeneries – versus the conveyed messaging in 2019 which placed more emphasis on the construction and promotion of key landmarks and iconic buildings. Our analysis indicates that a shift took place when the first private gated compound was built in the New Capital in 2017. This shift is accordingly hypothesized to reflect the ways in which visual politics reinforce the physicality as well as the exclusivity of urban planning and development. While planning projects originally inhabit a long-term development scope, visual politics focuses on making planning projects 'iconic' and 'eye-catching' while employing media to highlight design spectacles and short-term financial returns. Consequently, urban projects – once inclusive in their objectives and scope – transform into ones catering more for those who can afford the visually attractive landmarks.
Submission ID :
ISO166
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3: Smartness and development. Al-Souq: innovating for performance and management

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Dr Hiral Joshi
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