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Sat 27 Mar 2010 04:00 AM

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Egypt at a glance

Hazem Ashry, general manager for Emaar Misr, explains what Egypt can expect from the construction industry this year.

Egypt at a glance
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Hazem Ashry, general manager for Emaar Misr, explains what Egypt can expect from the construction industry this year.

 

What projects are you currently working on in Egypt?

 

Emaar Misr, the wholly owned subsidiary of the UAE-based Emaar Properties , is one of the largest foreign direct investors in Egypt’s real estate sector. Emaar has identified Egypt as a key market for growth, and has three ongoing projects: Uptown Cairo, Marassi and Mivida. Emaar has also partnered with Abu Dhabi Municipality to develop the Sheikh Khalifa City.

 

What do these projects offer?

Uptown Cairo is a residential, commercial and leisure development located at the highest point of downtown Cairo - Mokattam Hills. Spread over 4.5 million m2, this development features a business park, town centre, mall, resorts, spa, sports and leisure facilities, a golf course and residential villages. Marassi is a 6.24 million m2 tourist resort situated along Egypt’s North Coast. The resort will feature up to 3000 hotel rooms, a marina, golf course and healthcare facilities. Mivida is a residential development at the 5th district, New Cairo City. The 3.8 million m2 development will feature 5000 homes designed by international architects. Sheikh Khalifa City is a 2.2 million m2 project located in New Cairo, the project is developed in line with the guidance of the Egyptian Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Development, and is a social project.

How are the developments progressing?

 

Emaar Misr is focused on the on-schedule completion and delivery of its projects in the country, and work is progressing as per schedule. The first homes in Marassi and Uptown Cairo will be handed over this year and in Mivida in 2012. In Uptown Cairo, Emaar Misr signed an agreement valued at EP80 million with the Water Authority Company of Great Cairo to supply drinking and irrigation water in the community. The agreement covers the water supply infrastructure of Uptown Cairo, to cater for the first residents. A key component of the project is the distribution of irrigation water, through a sustainable development and environment-friendly initiative that does not depend on the drinking water source. This irrigation facility, developed at a cost of EP25 million, is executed for the first time in a private development. In Marassi, Emaar Misr has already marked a milestone with the completion of the beach clubhouse in the summer of 2009. The masterplan competition for Sheikh Khalifa City is in the final stages.

What can Egypt expect from the construction industry this year?

 

The construction industry outlook for Egypt at large is robust. This is led by the strong organic demand from the population that is growing at over 1.2 million every year. Additionally, there is strong demand from Egyptians living and working abroad, who transfer their money back to Egypt. The property sector witnesses remarkable activity, especially in middle-income housing. However, Emaar is specialised in developing homes that are fully finished. This is an exclusive niche and demand for such developments is expected to remain strong.

 

How is Egypt faring the downturn?

 

Egypt has shown remarkable resilience even in the face of the global financial crisis. In the property sector, for example, demand has been domestic-led which meant the market was not marred severely by the global financial downturn. In key trends, a staggering 92% of the property transactions for residential units were in cash. The dynamism in the property sector has attracted several GCC contractors who tender aggressively to compete with local contractors. One of the key factors driving the property market is the overall infrastructure. To further drive the economic growth, the Egyptian government spent EGP 10.5 billion on infrastructure in the first half of 2009 alone. Not only does this spending help keep Egypt to post healthy economic growth for the year even as other economies slow, it will make future residential projects more attractive by easing bottlenecks across the country.

 

 

 

With over 24 years of combined professional experience in auditing and real estate development, Ashry is responsible for leading the day-to-day administrative functions and overseeing the management of Emaar Misr’s lifestyle projects in Egypt. He joined Emaar in 2007 from MAK Holdings, a real estate developer and investor. He started his career at Touche Ross International and worked with Deloitte & Touche Egypt, where he was Audit & Business Advisory senior manager.

 

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