Rena Effendi

Photographer
    
Cairo: Urban Decay
Location: Istanbul, Turkey
Nationality: Azerbaijan
Biography: Rena Effendi’s early work focused on oil industry’s effects on people’s lives.  As a result, she followed a 1,700 km oil pipeline through Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, collecting stories along the way. This work was published in 2009 in... read on
Public Story
Cairo: Urban Decay
Credits: rena effendi
Date of Work: 04/01/07 - 03/16/14
Updated: 04/20/18
Archived as: 

In 2015, just a year after winning the election, Egypt’s president Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi announced his plan to build a new capital. The new city will be located in the desert, 45 km east of Cairo and is planned to accommodate 5 million inhabitants. The capital’s slick website boasts 10,000 km of boulevards and promenades, but both Emirati and Chinese stakeholders pulled out of the deal this year over high costs. The new glitzy metropolis so far remains to be Sisi’s personal megalomaniac fantasy, unrealistic in Egypt’s staggering economy. Ever since the coup and the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, Sisi’s military regime has crushed political dissent crowding the city’s jails with its opponents, activists and journalists. Yet Sisi positions himself as a leader who saved Egypt from chaos and political uncertainty, promoting costly mega-projects as his vision to create jobs and boost the economy. Many urban planners question the regime’s logic of spending close to USD 50 billion on a ‘dream city’ and uprooting people into the desert, while Cairo is imploding in a quagmire of social and urban infrastructure problems that will remain neglected. 

Egypt’s population growth has spiked in the last decade, while the past few years of political instability have contributed to significant economic downfall. One of the largest metropolises in the world, the 20 million people city struggles to manage its population pressures. Food riots frequently erupt and public transportation services are inadequate, while the demand for new housing grows exponentially. Informal neighborhoods are widespread in the absence of proper law enforcement. Chaotic unregulated construction not only took over green spaces and farm land, but also threatened the city’s cultural heritage affecting historic neighborhoods. Ubiquitous red brick homes, hastily built without any regard for urban planning are often left unfinished to avoid taxation. Metal wires poke from the rooftops of shoddy structures that often stand so close to one another that no space is allowed for vehicles to drive into the alleys of the “ashwayat” - densely populated informal neighborhoods, where more than half of Cairo’s population lives.

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By Rena Effendi —

VISUAL STORY

A Five Day War

By Rena Effendi — When a conflict broke out between Georgia and Russia in August 2008 over the Russian backed self-proclaimed..
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We Are Here

By Rena Effendi — Liquid Land is co-authored with my father Rustam Effendi, a dissident scientist and entomologist who..
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Chernobyl: Still Life in the Zone

By Rena Effendi — The first signs of the Chernobyl nuclear accident of April 26, 1986 were detected in Sweden   two days..
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Khinaliq Village

By Rena Effendi — I first came to Khinaliq to document life in Azerbaijan’s highest inhabited village in 2003. Archeological..
VISUAL STORY

We Are Here

By Rena Effendi / Egypt — Coptic Christians in Egypt number more than 10,000,000, making them the largest (religious) minority group..
VISUAL STORY

Gandhi

By Rena Effendi — This story portrays Mahatma Gandhi and his enduring legacy in modern-day India trailing across the..
VISUAL STORY

Transylvania

By Rena Effendi — For centuries, the small villages in Transylvania have preserved their hay meadows, raised cattle and..
VISUAL STORY

Courage in the Congo

By Rena Effendi — Ravaged by a never-ending war between various militias, rebels groups, and criminal combatants, the..
VISUAL STORY

Bengali Weddings

By Rena Effendi — This project documents a wide spectrum of wedding culture and traditions in Bangladesh. From luxurious..
VISUAL STORY

The Crossing Point

By Rena Effendi — In a small Greek town of Idomeni in 2015, a long and slow trail of people shuffled across fields and..
VISUAL STORY

Caspian Mystique

By Rena Effendi — Text extract from the National Geographic Traveler, by: Bruce Shoenfeld Baku has always been at the..
VISUAL STORY

Egypt's First Revolutionary

By Rena Effendi — Akhenaten, the pharaoh that ruled Egypt in 1300 BC and in his reign enforced the worshiping of one god -..
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