Photo: Pilot Bertrand Piccard's wife, Michèle, makes a speech before he departs on the Solar Impulse's last leg of its flight around the world; Piccard, in orange, will fly from Cairo to Abu Dhabi - @solarimpulse
Cairo (/ˈkaɪroʊ/KYE-roh; Arabic: القاهرة al-Qāhirah, Coptic: ⲕⲁϩⲓⲣⲏKahire) is the capital and largest city of Egypt. The city's metropolitan area is the largest in the Middle East and the Arab world, and 15th-largest in the world, and is associated with Ancient Egypt, as the famous Giza pyramid complex and the ancient city of Memphis are located in its geographical area. Located near the Nile Delta, modern Cairo was founded in 969 CE by Jawhar al-Siqilli ("the Sicilian") of the Fatimid dynasty, but the land composing the present-day city was the site of ancient national capitals whose remnants remain visible in parts of Old Cairo. Cairo has long been a center of the region's political and cultural life, and is nicknamed "the city of a thousand minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture.
Egyptians often refer to Cairo as Maṣr (IPA: [mɑsˤɾ]; Egyptian Arabic: مَصر), the Egyptian Arabic name for Egypt itself, emphasizing the city's importance for the country. Its official name al-Qāhirah (Arabic: القاهرة) means "the Vanquisher" or "the Conqueror", supposedly due to the fact that the planet Mars, al-Najm al-Qahir (Arabic: النجم القاهر, literally "the Counquering Star"), was rising at the time when the city was founded, possibly also in reference to the much awaited arrival of Caliph al-Mu'izz li Din Allah who reached Cairo in 973 from Mahdia, the old Fatimid capital. In Coptic the city is known as Kahire (Coptic: ⲕⲁϩⲓⲣⲏ), meaning "Place of the Sun", possibly referring to the ancient city of Heliopolis, the main seat of worship of the solar deity Ra—(or Re). The location of the ancient city is the suburb of Ain Shams (Arabic: عين شمس, literally "Sun-Eye" or "Eye of the Sun"). The ancient Egyptian name for the area is thought to be Khere-Ohe, "The Place of Combat", supposedly in reference to a mythical battle that took place between Seth and Horus. Sometimes the city is informally referred to as Kayro (IPA: [kæjɾo]; Egyptian Arabic: كايرو).
Cairo has the oldest and largest film and music industries in the Arab world, as well as the world's second-oldest institution of higher learning, al-Azhar University. Many international media, businesses, and organizations have regional headquarters in the city; the Arab League has had its headquarters in Cairo for most of its existence.
With a population of 6.76 million spread over 453 square kilometers (175 sq mi), Cairo is by far the largest city in Egypt. An additional 10 million inhabitants live in close proximity to the city. Cairo, like many other mega-cities, suffers from high levels of pollution and traffic. Cairo's metro, one of only two metros on the African continent (the other is in Algiers), ranks among the fifteen busiest in the world, with over 1 billion annual passenger rides. The economy of Cairo was ranked first in the Middle East in 2005, and 43rd globally by Foreign Policy's 2010 Global Cities Index.