By Elizabeth Broomhall
UAE developer confirms ‘significant’ growth plans after talks with Egyptian Prime Minister
Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) Holding, the firm behind three of Dubai’s largest malls, has held talks with the Egyptian prime minister over its planned expansion in the protest-hit country.
Iyad Malas, CEO of the company, met with Prime Minister Essam Sharaf to underscore its commitment to Egypt and discuss “significant” growth plans, MAF said in an emailed statement.
The developer operates two shopping malls and eight Carrefour supermarkets in the country through its real estate arm. The malls mark an investment of EGP 2.5bn, the company said.
A popular uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak from power in February has crippled the economy of the Arab world’s most populous state, hurting crucial revenue from tourism and industrial output.
The revolution has also threatened to hobble the real-estate developers that profited during the Mubarak era, after Egypt’s caretaker government cracked down on deals cut during his rule.
The chairman of UAE developer Damac Properties and Talaat Moustafa Group are among those that have suffered legal defeats that may force them to give up land bought cheaply from the old regime.
Damac, which has been stripped of 30 million sq m of land under a Cairo court ruling, is suing Egypt at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment.
Construction made up 12.5 percent of Egypt’s gross domestic product last year, when the industry grew 13.2 percent, according to Ministry of Planning data.
MAF Properties, the conglomerate’s real estate unit, is scheduled to open its third mall in Egypt in 2014. The ‘Mall of Egypt’ development will add 160,800sq m of leasable retail space and is expected to create 7,000 permanent jobs on completion, the company said.
In May, Malas said the firm had seen minimal impact from Egypt’s revolution and saw sales increase in the wake of the political unrest.
“Egypt is a very small percentage of our business; Dubai is the largest part of our business. Sales in Maadi City Centre… [have] picked up to pre-crisis levels,” he told Arabian Business.
MAF Holding plans to double its malls in the Middle East and North Africa from 10 to 20 by 2020, marking a total investment of $4bn.