Between Grandeur and Repression: The New Egypt

With its thousand-year-old civilisation, exceptional archaeological heritage, and the beauty of the Nile, Egypt used to be a favourite destination for tourists. Yet, behind the postcard, its 110 million inhabitants are subject to unprecedented repression. The hopes for change and freedom born of the Tahrir Square Revolution in 2011 were quickly swept away.

At the top of the state is Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, a retired military official who has ruled Egypt with an iron fist for eight years. His vision is to transform Egypt into a new Dubai, attracting investors and wealthy tourists with ostentatious villas, spectacular buildings, and luxurious mega-shopping centres that are springing up everywhere. His latest project: a new capital in the middle of the desert, six times the size of Paris, with a budget of nearly 50 billion euros.

However, not all Egyptians benefit from Sisi’s modern vision. 30% of the population lives on less than $2 a day – to survive, some people even live in cemeteries, such as El Arafa in Cairo, the capital. Hundreds of thousands of individuals sleep in this “city of the dead,” amidst the tombs. It is a real city within a city, complete with small shops and a school.

Abdel-Fatah el-Sisi reigns terror among those who dare to criticise him, all while abandoning the poorest of the country. One of the symbols of this oppression is Alaa Abd Al-Fattah, a figurehead of the uprising in Tahrir Square. The 40-year-old blogger has spent most of the past eight years behind bars. We met with his mother, Laila Soueif, a human rights activist, and his sister Sanaa – a refugee in London who does everything she can to alert the international community of the fate of her brother and the 60,000 other people unjustly imprisoned for their opinions.

We also followed the rare tourists who try to get off the beaten track and discover another side of Egypt – one of whom spent three months in an Egyptian jail and is traumatised by the ordeal. In this country, which is completely closed to journalists, we uncover the true face of President el-Sisi’s Egypt.


  • Year: 2023
  • Duration: 52 mins
  • Production: Tony Comiti Productions
  • Director: Paul Labrosse
  • Available Versions: ENG, FRA
  • Country of production: France

Related Programs

Shiites and Sunnis: The Secret War

Behind the Arab Spring and the violence in countries like Syria lies another hidden war. On one side, the Shiites, led by Iran. On the other, the Sunnis, under the protection of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

More info

Hijacking the Arab Spring? The Rise of the Islamists

Should we fear political Islam? In Morocco, radical preacher Sheikh Mohamed El Fizazi is enjoying a comeback. From Morocco to Libya and Syria, we investigate the new parties jostling for power.

More info