By Sarah Blackman
Mohamed El Mikawi, managing director for Al Futtaim Real Estate in Egypt gives an update of how his company’s flagship development is progressing and discusses the benefits of doing business in Cairo.
Mohamed El Mikawi, managing director for Al Futtaim Real Estate in Egypt gives an update of how his company’s flagship development is progressing and discusses the benefits of doing business in Cairo.What progress has been made at Cairo Festival City so far? We expect to complete Cairo Festival City in 2015, having already completed several sections of the development, including the American International School (AIS), which opened in October 2005, phase one of the automotive park, which now hosts the Honda showroom which opened in early 2008, as well as the Toyota showroom, which opened in January 2009. What is left to complete?
Construction of phase one of the residential villas started last year and we expect to be handing them over to the occupiers in 2012. Construction of Festival Centre started in May 2008 and will be completed towards the end of 2011, officially opening its doors in early 2012. Development of the commercial offices also started late last year, with construction of the remaining elements of Cairo Festival City scheduled to start this year. What can Cairo expect from the construction industry this year? There are numerous construction projects underway in Cairo at present and these projects are definitely designed to alleviate the high demand for housing in Cairo. The construction industry is slowly starting to catch up to this demand, but this is a process that will only be felt over an extended period of time. With regards to Cairo Festival City specifically, the project aims to address the housing needs of the growing New Cairo population. Spanning over 3 million m2, we hope our development will stand as the centerpiece for New Cairo. Cairo Festival City, when complete, will be a community where people can live, work, and play in one place – in theory they will never have to leave. The Mediterranean style Oriana villas will be luxurious and form a gated community where families can live in a secure and beautifully maintained landscaped environment. The apartment complex will complete the residential area, providing a more cost effective medium for those wanting a more cosmopolitan life style, closer to the retail resort. Also, the new compact villas subdivision is expected to be launched in May of this year and will cater to a wider target market. Festival Centre, the retail resort, will offer Egypt’s first indoor/outdoor experience with shopping, restaurants, cafes and entertainment all beautifully located around a stunning water setting. Premium offices, a school, automotive parks and hotels add to the experience together with an ideal location and easy access to the ring road. Why do people choose to do business in Cairo?
When you look at the housing industry it is clear that there is a huge gap between supply and demand, and Egypt’s rapidly growing population means that the demand for housing has still yet to be met. It is this large population that fuels the increased number of businesses entering the Egyptian market. The consumer market remains unsaturated as Egypt’s economy is still in its infancy and the vast workforce that Egypt has makes it an ideal location for a wide variety of businesses. With regards to the retail industry, over the past ten years the industry has been growing at an annual rate of between 5% and 15%.
How does Cairo compare to GCC cities such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh?
There are many differences but we could say that Egypt has the largest population in the Arab world and the rapidly growing population is what is fueling the expansion of Egypt’s economy. In comparison, GCC consumer markets are far more saturated and because their populations are growing at a slower rate their economies are also expanding at a slower rate. If we are also to consider the global economic crisis that we were faced with last year, the GCC was definitely far more affected than Egypt.