The Asyut region in Upper Egypt is often considered as one of the most appealing regions in Upper Egypt for its importance as a medical, educational, and commercial center. As a result of these factors and regarding its location, which is surrounded by agriculture land, the available land area is quickly decreasing. However, the government has established New Asyut city to absorb the urban growth outside the Nile Valley. Yet the region’s importance and the increasing population have led to significant urban growth, which has led to increasing loss of agricultural lands within the Nile Valley. Modelling spatially the dynamic change is important for innovative planning strategies. This study’s main aims are to characterize the past urban growth process and to investigate a future scenario intended to help decision-makers in redrawing their policies for sustainable development to save the agriculture areas by absorbing the urban sprawl towards the new cities outside the Nile Valley. Satellite-derived Land Use and Land Cover (LULC) maps of the study area from 1990, 2003, and 2015 were processed. The explanatory driving forces were quantified and ordered using an analytical hierarchy process. The outputs were then processed within a framework of the Markov-cellular automata, and a multi-criteria evaluation (MCE) was used to produce the future suitability model. The model was verified using ROC and Kappa statistics. The study concluded that combinations of diversified driving forces exist during different periods. It found that the current urban development process is in a critical stage where urban and rural areas will face unprecedented stress on agriculture areas over the next 15 years. The present policies cannot deal with the future challenges regarding the direction of urban development. However, the study suggests that differentiated policies, based on the investigated scenario, should be considered to guide reasonable urban expansion; these have important implications for urban planning and management in Egypt.
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