Egypt faces ongoing problems in its population distribution. While heavily populated areas of the
Nile Valley continue to attract migrants, depopulated areas remain largely empty. In North Sinai, in spite
of governmental support represented in new infrastructure and many urban and investment projects, there
exists a tremendous under- population problem. In the meantime the urban centres of Egypt are suffering
worsening social, economic, infrastructural and environmental problems exacerbated by overpopulation.
This thesis addresses the concept of sustaining population growth of desert settlements. It argues
that the socio-economic needs of desert settlements are to a large part overlooked, thus contributing to
their failure to attract and retain large numbers of people. Discussion of this subject is structured into
three parts, followed by the conclusion and recommendations.
Part One uses extensive literature references to give a comprehensive background to the different
features of desert settlements and their social, economic and environmental dimensions. Part Two covers
the theoretical approach of sustaining the population growth of desert settlements, especially in peripheral
areas. This part ends with a comparative analysis between three desert development experiences; in
Egypt, the USA and Israel. These first two parts are targeted to address the indicators of sustaining
population growth. These investigations into the subject area support a view that it is not sufficient for
governments only to use economic, employment and infrastructural means to attract people to desert
settlements. These do not tackle the problem of public attitudes towards living in remote communities,
nor do they provide settlements that are adaptive to the desert environment, which would invite settlers to
remain and bring up their families there. These insights construct the analytical background to the field
study in Part Three, which outlines the research techniques and the case study, field survey and
questionnaire conducted with the assistance of residents of five chosen desert settlements in North Sinai.
This analysis examines the attitudes among `local' and `new comer' households looking at their
residential mobility, the relocation process, and the consequences of the community and prospects for the
The findings lead to the conclusion that much of the deviation from achieving national and
regional population dispersal policies can be explained through studying the socio-economic and
socio-cultural dimensions of desert settlements. They highlight significant differences in values, motivations
and interests of both `local' and `newcomer' households and explain that these forces should have a major
influence in formulating and implementing effective population redistribution policies.
Although the research limits itself to the context of the desert environment, the author suggest that
its findings may offer valuable insights to other parts of the world, where national policies are seeking to
counter the global problems of rural -urban migration.