Egypt’s metro opens one year after launch

Image copyright REUTERS Image caption It was the first metro system built in the Middle East

Some find it hard to imagine the desert in Cairo, a place where city-dwellers rely on air-conditioned buses and shiny cars that are the latest in luxury cars.

But on the one-year anniversary of Egypt’s $2bn (£1.5bn) metro system, we take a look at its gleaming facade.

The metro has been hailed as the project which has changed the face of the capital and has helped turn the country’s economic fortunes around.

It is said to be the first metro system built in the Middle East. Its trains and stations are five times the size of conventional paratransit vehicles used by Cairo’s public transport system.

The trains use cheap but heavy 11-tonne steel but are high tech, including GPS and CCTV technology.

Renowned Egyptian-American architect Ihab Mekki was commissioned to design the stations.

The sleek stations and bright light inside stand out on the city skyline of Cairo.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption In an image from 2015, commuters ride in a train on the first day of operation

Critics said they would do little to change Cairo’s problems, which include high poverty rates and widespread lack of access to good schools and health care.

Thousands have died in a string of bombings in crowded public transport facilities.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The ceiling of one station looks like a hot air balloon

“The metro goes there, the metro doesn’t go there,” said an anti-riot police officer who gave his name as Abbas.

“There are train stations for the women and there are stations for the low class people. We are on the street and they are on the train station.”

Media outlets have reported he is a victim of discrimination because of his skin colour.

There were protests at one station over the cheap air conditioning. But those fizzled out as protesters were eventually ushered away by riot police.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The technical challenges involved in building the metro were huge

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