Laborers plant trees along a main thoroughfare at the site of the new Cairo Administrative Capital near Cairo, Egypt. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi real estate developer Imkan has big plans for its newly acquired Dh1.1 billion 166-acre plot in New Cairo in Egypt, with its upscale real estate projects looking to cater to up to 5,000 residents.

The wholly-owned subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Capital Group recently entered into an agreement with the Egyptian government over the next five years for the land plot, further adding to its Egyptian business portfolio alongside its projects in the UAE and Morocco.

“As a company, we have decided on a strategic level that our expansion plans will include Egypt … Once we were offered the property, we quickly studied it and went back to the Egyptian government and said we were interested. It was a very smooth and transparent process,” said Walid El Hindi, chief executive officer of Imkan.

“We felt that this was a really good opportunity for us and as a company we are always looking forward, and so we decided this was the moment for us to move onto this next big project and so here we are now celebrating this very big milestone for us,” he added.

El Hindi described the land as a prime location in New Cairo with several other developers, including Emaar, already having their own real estate projects being developed in the area.

“It’s a very mature area and the sort of place that is thought after in Egypt, and so it is a prime piece of property that requires an upscale product, which is good for us as it gives us a way to diversify our product offerings in Egypt.

“We already have our Al Burouj development, which is targeted towards an upper mid-market. And we now have another property development that caters to a different sector, allowing us to cover a wider spectrum in Egypt,” he added.

Commenting on the scale of the project, El Hindi called it a master plan community and said the project would be able to cater to thousands of residents once completed. “I don’t have the specific numbers (on the number of homes and properties to be built) but I can say that it’s a very large development of mainly upscale homes that could potentially cater to 5,000 residents.”

Egypt’s real estate potential

Explaining why the company was branching outside the UAE, El Hindi said it was important for UAE based companies to diversify their portfolio, going on to highlight Egypt’s real estate market as one filled with potential.

“Big scale developers are certainly looking into diversification because relying on only one market is somewhat risky. When a company has several different markets you are able to diversify the risk.

“Egypt is one of those countries that has key indicators that make business decisions quite simple — you have a population of 100 million people in a country that’s growing by two to three per cent annually and so the demand on housing is never going to end,” he added.

“We believe in the long term viability of Egypt’s real estate market and we see it as a good market for us to be in … the population is growing at a very fast pace and so the demand [for housing] cannot be met with the current roster of developers,” he said, highlighting the opportunities for big developers to get involved with Egypt’s property market.

El Hindi also highlighted the positive impacts such major projects bring to the Egyptian local population in terms of employment and economic growth.

“We hire construction companies from the local market so all the contractors for our project in Egypt are from Egypt, using Egyptian workers for the construction, and so we are helping the local market.

“For our current projects in Egypt we have more than 5,000 workers daily on site and this number will go up in the future to 15,000 workers in the coming years as we expand our work,” he added.

“When we look at the industries involved such as the aluminium, steel and cement factories all of this multiplied together and you’re looking at 60-80,000 people employed and directly supporting the project,” El Hindi said.