This book moves beyond superficial generalizations about Cairo as a chaotic metropolis in the developing world into an analysis of the ways the city's eighteen million inhabitants have, in the face of a largely neglectful government, built and shaped their own city. Using a wealth of recent studies on Greater Cairo and a deep reading of informal urban processes, the city and its recent history are portrayed and mapped: the huge, spontaneous neighborhoods; housing; traffic and transport; city government; and its people and their enterprises.
The book argues that understanding a city such as Cairo is not a daunting task as long as pre-conceived notions are discarded and care is taken to apprehend available information and to assess it with a critical eye. In the case of Cairo, this approach leads to a conclusion that the city can be considered a kind of success story, in spite of everything.
David Sims is an American economist and urban planner who has led a number of studies about Cairo's urban development and housing.