Inaugurated by President Mubarak in 1997, the Toshka Project had the ambitious goals of cultivating 5700 square kilometres of desert northwest of Abu Simbel, and settling six million people there. To irrigate the land, $1 billion was spent on creating the world’s largest pumping station to extract five billion cubic metres of water from Lake Nasser annually, and digging the Sheikh Zayed Canal, named after the president of the United Arab Emirates (a big investor). The main canal (completed in 2002) is 50km long, 30m wide and 6m deep, with four branch canals totaling 159km in length, and a network of roads linking Toshka to another irrigation project at East Oweinat in the Western Desert, using aquifer water. However, settlers have been disillusioned by the lack of work opportunities and infrastructure, and foreign investors have pulled out since the 2011 Revolution, vindicating critics of both projects, who claimed from the start that they would prove to be white elephants.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Egypt features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

7 amazing African journeys

7 amazing African journeys

Africa is a continent of wild open savannahs, terracotta sunsets, thousands of vibrant green hills and rugged coastlines. Here, you can be chugging along on …

06 Jul 2016 • Harriet Constable insert_drive_file Article
12 captivating pictures of Egypt

12 captivating pictures of Egypt

Rough Guides author and photographer Anthon Jackson has travelled to over eighty countries, from Morocco to Indonesia and Ethiopia to India, capturing many of h…

16 Mar 2015 • Anthon Jackson insert_drive_file Article
Video: things not to miss in Egypt

Video: things not to miss in Egypt

The oldest tourist destination on Earth, Egypt has a multitude of things to see and do. There are ancient pyramids, crumbling temples and vast deserts to explor…

13 Jan 2015 • Site Editor videocam Video
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month