The Aga Khan Develoment Network (AKDN) programmes in Egypt began with the creation of the 30-hectare (74-acre) Azhar Park on the site of what had been a rubble dump for 500 years. Today, the park serves as a "green lung" for Cairo, proving to be a popular open space in a city where once the amont of green space per inhabitant was roughly equivalent to the size of a footprint. The project has also evolved well beyond the park to include the restoration of 1.5 kilometres of the 12th century Ayyubid wall and several landmark buildings, as well as socio-economic initiatives in the neighbouring Darb al-Ahmar district. These include housing rehabiliation, microfinance, vocational training and apprenticeships, and healthcare.
"Whether one is developing a university, a hospital, a school, a park, a historical site, a commercial enterpise, a municipal facility or a regional network of institutions, land planning, building development and financing are fundamental variables. Nothing serious, long-lived, or self-sustaining can be achieved unless the suitabiity of the land that is involved - and the economic conditions under which it becomes available - are consistent both with long-range social purposes and sensible financial objectives." His Highness the Aga Khan speaking at the Urban Land Institute's Annual Conference Leadership Dinner, Paris, France - 31 January 2012.