Designed to deceive : President Hosni Mubarak's Toshka project




Deputy, Emmarie

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Since the dawn of industrialization, many authoritarian regimes have taken on massive public works projects which seem impressive or farfetched. Few onlookers are surprised when these projects are not completed or are completed at such a high cost that they appear to be an exercise in futility. Usually these failures are written off as dictatorial incompetence and overambition, but the initial motivations for beginning them are rarely addressed. This paper will argue that, rather than being a symptom of precipitant development or front for embezzlement, many of these projects were designed to fail because the regime received the largest benefit by starting them—not by completing them. Empirically this research will focus on the Toshka ‘New River Valley’ project in Egypt, which is Egypt’s largest development project and is designed to create a second Nile River Valley in the South and eventually be home to 20% of the Egypt’s population. In this report I explore the governments’ motivations, their intentions, the resulting symbolism and the repercussions of the Toshka project.




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