Gulf investor interest highlights #Egypt’s retail upside

Gulf investors have had a sizable presence in Egypt’s property market over the past decade.
The announcements for a number of multi-billion dollar projects are indicative of rising confidence in Egypt’s retailing sector, bolstered by the economy’s favourable long-term fundamentals, although there is still a certain wariness over the country’s macroeconomic performance.

Dubai-based retail group Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) has plans to invest around $2.3bn in Egypt over the coming years, its chief executive Iyad Malas told Reuters at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Malas said the plans were indicative of growing interest in the country from Gulf investors.

MAF, which already operates more than 20 large-scale supermarkets in the country, has planned investments in Egypt that include an LE3.2bn ($458.4m) expansion of its Maadi City Centre Mall, which opened in 2002 and has just over 30,000 sq metres of gross leasable area (GLA).

The developer also announced that it would soon commence work on the Mall of Egypt, a massive “supra-regional” shopping centre with 162,500 sq metres of GLA located at the Sixth of October City in the west of Cairo. The project has been valued at more than $800m, with $450m in financing secured from two local banks.

Gulf investors have had a sizable presence in Egypt’s property market over the past decade, with a number of large developments in the 11m-person Cairo area. UAE-based Al Futtaim Group, for example, in November opened the $1.45bn Cairo Festival City, a mixed-use project in New Cairo that includes 160,000 sq metres of GLA.

In late 2012 Al Futtaim and Dubai’s Emaar announced plans to develop the LE5bn ($711.5m) Cairo Gate as a joint venture. The first phase of the project will include a mall with 120,000 sq metres of GLA. Emaar is separately developing Emaar Square, which will host a 250,000-sq-metre outdoor mall, within its larger Uptown Cairo mixed-use real estate development.

Nor are foreign investors the only ones erecting scaffolding these days. Egyptian property developers, including listed firms like Talaat Mostafa Group, Sixth of October Development and Investment Company (SODIC) and Palm Hills Development, have also been working on a number of large projects of their own. SODIC, for example, began construction on its 860,000 sq metre mixed-use Eastown project in the middle of last year, having sold LE1.6bn ($229m) worth of units on the site over the first half of 2013.

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