Bahrain's GFH to modify $1.4bn Morocco project

Investment company says luxury villas no longer needed in Royal Ranches Marrakech
Bahrain's GFH to modify $1.4bn Morocco project
An artists impression of the Royal Ranches project.
By Andy Sambidge
Sun 21 Oct 2012 05:14 PM

Bahrain-based investment bank Gulf Finance House on Sunday said that it was making "critical modifications" to its $1.4bn project in Morocco.

The company said in a statement that its Royal Ranches Marrakech was to change to meet new market conditions in Marrakech.

The residential part of the project is set to "shift from luxury large scale villas, to small to medium-size apartments", the statement said.

The modifications will involve the re-master planning of the first district which will include an authentic "Medina" club houses, a medical and health spa, a traditional "souk" shopping area and a boutique hotel.

Gulf Finance House’s first investment in Morocco, Gateway to Morocco, was launched in July 2006.

With a total project value estimated at $1.4bn, the first phase will comprise two elements – Royal Ranches Marrakech in the city of Marrakech and Royal Resort Cap Malabata in the city of Tangiers.

This decision to modify the project follows a recent visit by a delegation representing GFH's executives led by the acting CEO of GFH, Hisham Alrayes, to the project earlier last month.

During the visit they concluded the restructuring of the projects financing with BMCE Bank, the statement said.

Alrayes said: "We understand that market needs can change over time, and as such we make it our business to monitor these potential and actual changes as a matter of course.

"In order to better cater to local demand due to the market changes and the existing oversupply of luxury villas, we have taken the decision to alter the plan to include affordable residential units and medical health facilities, rather than the ranches and large scale villas as initially planned for."

Infrastructure development of Royal Ranches Marrakech is 45 percent complete, he said.

He added that he was now working on a revised time schedule for the completion of the first phase of the development, while focusing at the same time on attracting joint developers to undertake parts of the project.

In March, it was reported that Royal Ranches Marrakech would cover approximately 380 hectares located in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. It is comprised of four districts including equestrian, residential, leisure and tourist areas. 

The original development was said to include an equestrian school with certified instructors, a professional 18-hole golf course, a 5-star hotel and 6-star boutique hotel, luxury residential units and a shopping area where winding streets will recall a traditional Moroccan souk.

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