David Sims on "The Future of Egypt"



David Sims is an American economist and urban planner who has led a number of studies about Cairo’s urban development and housing. In his comprehensive and accessible book, Understanding Cairo: The Logic of a City Out of Control, economist and urban planner David Sims sheds a bright light on the intricacies of Cairo’s urban development and also deconstructs some of the misconceptions about the city he loves. One that he is avid to contest touches on the growth of Cairo’s population. "There is this attempt to lay all of Cairo’s problems on to the very people who are not destroying the city, which is the mass of people who don’t own cars and who are just trying to get along and are perceived to have peasant roots," explains Sims in a recent interview. "This idea that they form this continued random migration into Cairo is also a myth," adds Sims, a resident of Cairo for the past three decades.

And even if "superficially Cairo is a knot of contradictions," Sims is not afraid to argue in his book that "it is possible for an apparently out-of-control Cairo to function and, in some ways, to function quite well." During the interview he adds: "Cairo is a very likeable city, you can get anything you want, see a lot going on, and as long as you don’t have to battle with the traffic it’s a very easy place to live in and very comfortable. Sure it has problems but so do a lot of other big cities."