Egypt’s president Abdel-Fattah El Sisi along side Pope Tawadros II inaugurated the largest cathedral in the Middle East on 6 January located in the New Administrative Capital on the outskirts of Cairo right in time for the Coptic Christmas celebrations.
Official spokesman of the Coptic Church, Paul Halim, revealed that the church’s inauguration also hosted a Christmas mass. Those who attended the mass registered beforehand.
The cathedral is officially called ‘Cathedral of the birth of Christ’ and can 8,000 to 9,000 people.
Located east of the exhibition project EXPO and south of the central park, the edifice, sprawled over a surface of 7,500 square meters, will be home to several features including papal headquarters, administrative offices, a main square, papal headquarters, and a reception hall.
The Coptic Church, which brought Christianity to Egypt in the first century AD, celebrates Christmas on January 7 every year. It follows the old system that the Roman Catholic Church abandoned when it adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1582.
It is estimated that about 10 percent of Egypt’s population are Copts.
The new administrative capital was announced in March of 2015, and it is currently being constructed in the desert 45 kilometers east of Cairo.
It is part of the government’s plan to more evenly distribute its 95-million strong population across the country’s vast desert land, hoping to decrease traffic congestion, population density and ease the burden on the urban infrastructure.
It is set to include residential districts, solar plants, hospitals, an international airport as well as the nation’s upcoming largest mosque, “Al-Fattah Al-Aleem Mosque”, accommodating twice as many people as the cathedral.