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Cairo 90210?

Pollution and congestion lead to Egypt's version of gated communities, with names like Hyde Park and Beverly Hills.

Egypt’s average per capita income is only $6,000 a year (placing Egypt 134th in the world income rankings). The country has a a median age is 24.8 years, and many Egyptians who are poised to move out of the family home, get married and start their own lives, simply cannot afford to do so, Tibe said.

“We say there is segregation in Egypt. Not like in South Africa based in color, but here it’s based on class,” she said.

According to the ECHR, 5 million of Cairo’s inhabitants live in informal housing communities, essentially slums, which in many cases don’t have access to basic services like clean water, sanitation and electricity.

“The informal housing sector, which is now massive in Cairo and other parts of Egypt, was in a sense a 'private' solution to the lack of affordable housing,” Singerman said.

Catering to the poor

Recent initiatives by some private developers to build affordable housing in Cairo’s suburbs in addition to high-end housing have gained some ground, but housing advocates and urban planners say that this causes new problems because there is a lack of sufficient public transportation into the city center.

“Much of this top-down development has been found in major cities to have devastated residential communities, and the dynamism of heterogeneous residential and commercial areas,” Singerman added.

When Amira Mohamed was asked whether or not she would ever move back to Heliopolis, the neighborhood of Cairo where she still owns a home, she rejected the possibility: “No I can’t. I would die.”