The Enigma of Desert Towns Around Cairo

photographer Aglaia Konrad


The erection of new suburbs in the desert that surrounds Cairo, Egypt, started at the beginning of the 1960s in response to explosive growth and overpopulation. These desert towns have barely come to life, they still look like ghost towns: with no roads, with skeletons instead of constructions, they are just dice scattered into the despicable desert landscape.


In 1992, the Austrian artist Aglaia Konrad travelled to Cairo determined to take photographs of desert towns around the city. But what seemed so simple in theory wasn’t so in reality. The deserted desert towns were guarded like a military zone while the non-existent road infrastructure made travelling troublesome. Besides, Aglaia Konrad, a woman from the western world, was only allowed to take pictures in Egypt from behind closed cab windows or aeroplanes.