The new capital will cover 700 square kilometers, or 270 square miles, making it about the size of Singapore, and will be located 35 kilometers, or 21 miles, east of Cairo.
Plans for the city include a new parliament and presidential palace, Egypt's largest airport, Africa's tallest tower, the Middle East's largest opera house, a $20bn entertainment district, and a giant urban park bigger than Central Park in New York.
A look to the future
One key driver behind the initiative is the country's rapid population growth. A new baby is born in Egypt – the most populous country in the Middle East – every 15 seconds, which translates to about two million new people a year.
Population challenges aside, other potential motives for the move include a desire by President Sisi – who came to power when the military took charge in 2011 – to break from the past and make his mark in history, as well as efforts to stimulate the economy, which has remained sluggish since the events of the Arab Spring.
"For the country to watch the government spend tens of billions on this [city] while also hearing them say we all have to tighten our belts, it sends a contradictory message," Timothy Kaldas, a non-resident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Cairo, told NBC News.
"There is something very wrong with the order of priorities," agreed political analyst Hassan Nafaa in an interview with AP. "Maybe el-Sissi wants to go down in history as the leader who built the new capital. But if Egyptians don't see an improvement in their living conditions and services, he will be remembered as the president who destroyed what is left of the middle class."
Described by Danny Di Perna, the president of Bombardier Transportation, as "the smart mobility solution for Cairo's urban future", the 54km (33-mile) line can carry 45,000 passengers an hour. The estimated travel time from East Cairo to the new capital is around 60 minutes.
Smart technology to the fore
A website for the project promises that "the new capital is developed with the strategic vision for a smart city integrating its smart infrastructure to provide many services to citizens".
This vision includes: smart monitoring of traffic congestion and accidents, smart utilities to reduce consumption and cost, smart buildings and energy management including a focus on renewable energy and using IoT to save power consumption, as well as "building optical-fiber infrastructure connecting every building using FTTX technology".
Plans for a 90-square-kilometers solar (35-square-miles) farm are also part of the mix.
Alongside this, the government has announced that it intends to make the New Administrative Capital the first cashless city in the country.
The development of e-commerce, which it's hoped will be stimulated by this move, and mobile money are big strategic priorities for the government. At present, there are around 20 million active mobile payment accounts in the country, but the Egyptian Central Bank wants to double this in the next two years.
Financial and other challenges
Although plans are progressing, there have been some bumps in the road. Reuters reported last year that the "project is struggling to raise funds and needs to overcome other challenges after investors pulled out".
"We need very extensive financing," it quoted Ahmed Zaki Abdeen – a retired general who heads the company building the new city – as saying. "And the state doesn't have money to give me." As a result, around 20% of investment to date has come from overseas.
According to Abdeen, China has contributed up to $4.5bn towards the costs and China State Construction Engineering is also training 10,000 Egyptian construction workers.
And, of course, building in the desert also brings with it other challenges. One obvious example, which Reuters highlighted, is that "the city will consume an estimated 650,000 cubic meters a day of water from the North African nation's scarce resources".
Will it be a success?
Cairo's continued expansion is clearly unsustainable. The city faces many problems, including being named the most polluted city in the world. However, whether creating a new capital city is the best solution to this problem is a moot point.