Cairo: Hundreds of workers and engineers Monday embarked on building the Green River, a Nile-style waterway lined with greenery inside Egypt’s new capital that is emerging in the desert on the outskirts of the ancient capital city of Cairo.

Prime Minister Mustafa Madbuoli Monday gave the go-ahead to the construction of the Green River, which will link different quarters of the $45 billion New Administrative Capital about 60km east of Cairo.

The stretch, inspired by the Nile that runs through the centre of the old capital, is planned to be completed by mid-2020, according to Madbouli. He said treated water will feed the new river. “The basic idea is to recycle water,” Madbouli added.

A central 10km botanical garden will also be built along the Green River. The first stage of the river runs for 10km at an estimated cost of $500 million, according to the Housing Ministry.

Public and private companies are engaged in implementing the project, which the prime minister said will be another landmark of the new capital.

The launch comes a week after President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi inaugurated the Middle East’s biggest cathedral and a large mosque in the new city, in a sign of religious tolerance in the mostly Muslim country.

The New Administrative Capital is one of Egypt’s large-scale projects, which Al Sissi has initiated since he took office in 2014.

The city, planned to be home to government offices, the parliament and foreign embassies, is designed to ease the burden on Cairo, where an estimated 20 million people live.

In August 2015, Al Sissi inaugurated a 35km-long expansion to the historic Suez Canal, an artificial short cut linking the Mediterranean and Red seas.

The $8 billion New Suez Canal, wholly funded by Egyptians, is part of a string of ambitious schemes aimed at revitalising Egypt’s economy and attracting more investment to create jobs.