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‘The Dams of Welfare’

Asmaa Gamal
The city of El Qanater El Khayreya emerged after a dam was built and has since become a magnet for local and foreign tourists alike.
30.03.2021  |  El Qanater El Khayreya, Egypt
The El Qanater El Khayreya Dam in Egypt. (photo: The Niles | Asmaa Gamal)
The El Qanater El Khayreya Dam in Egypt. (photo: The Niles | Asmaa Gamal)

El Qanater El Khayreya is a city in the El Qalyubiya Governorate, North of Cairo, where the Nile splits into the Damietta and Rosetta branches - right at the beginning of the Nile Delta. Its unique location led to the construction of the El Qanater El Khayreya Dam, which in Arabic means “The Dams of Welfare”, and soon a city grew around it.

It is believed that the foundation of a modern irrigation system in Egypt started when Mohamed Ali Pasha laid the cornerstone for the two-section dam in 1840. Its main purpose was to protect the Nile Delta from getting flooded whenever the water rose above dangerous levels. The dam was also accompanied by water management schemes to distribute water to the West, East and centre of the Nile Delta region.

The dam sections – the 465-metre long Rosetta section and the 545-metre long Damietta section – were completed in 1862. Since then, the city which lies just 22 kilometres from Cairo has flourished, attracting millions of local and foreign tourists every year with its many parks, gardens and stunning views across the Nile.

For today’s residents of El Qanater El Khayreya, ‘The Dams of Welfare’ have lived up to their name, providing income, food and an economic boost for the region.

The Mohamed Ali Bridge on the Damietta section of the El Qanater El Khayreya dam was named after Mohamed Ali Pasha, the Albanian Ottoman governor and the de-facto ruler of Egypt from 1805 to 1848. Many tourists consider the bridge as one of the most beautiful places in El Qanater El Khayreya.


El Qanater El Khayreya is a top tourist destination, especially among Egyptian families living in Cairo. The short drive from Cairo makes the city an ideal spot for longer holidays or short weekend trips, offering an escape into nature with an abundance of plants and birds.



Farming is not the only source of income. Seyed Ahmed, a 20-year-old living in El Qanater El Khayreya, makes a living by driving foreigners and locals around the city’s historical sites. He says every morning they wash the horses and carts on the shores of the Nile.


Fishing is common in El Qanater El Khayreya. These two men fishing near one of the dam sections say they have an excellent spot to catch a variety of fish.



The 465-metre long Rosetta section has 61 arches of 4.8 metres in length, each containing an adjustable floodgate. The floodgates are operated with a crane on rails, controlling the flow of the Nile into the Nile Delta.



The dam sections serve as bridges to cross the Damietta and Rosetta branches of the Nile. This comes in handy for the local farmers and herders who benefit from fertile lands surrounding the city of El Qanater El Khayreya.


El Qanater El Khayreya offers a variety of foods cooked in traditional styles, as well as museums and chalets, all of which are affordable for all classes of people. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Egyptian leaders, such as King Farouk and President Anwar Al-Sadat, had holiday homes near ‘The Dams of Welfare’.


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A boat cannot go forward if each rows his own way
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