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Sep 02, 2017

Egypt’s moneyed classes are buying houseslike there's no tomorrow!

by Lalaine C. Delmendo

 

Egypt house pricesThree years after President El-Sisi was elected, much has changed in Egypt.  While formally a democracy, Egypt now has a tightly controlled press, and many political prisoners. On the economic front, in November 2016 Egypt floated the Egyptian pound (EGP), causing a dramatic depreciation against major currencies.

In turn this sparked extraordinarily high inflation.  In May 2017, Egypt's headline inflation stood at an astonishing 29.7% while core inflation was 30.6% - three times higher than last year’s 10.2%.

It may come as something of a surprise therefore, that Egypt’s housing market is widely expected to rise strongly in value in coming years - and high-end construction is booming to meet demand.

Consider the situation from the perspective of the Egyptian.  If he lives abroad, Egyptian property has suddenly become much less expensive, because of the currency depreciation.  If he lives in Egypt, his savings are falling in value by 30% per annum. 

What to do?  Invest in property!   Even if that too is falling in value (in real terms), it is falling in value less than cash. During the year to May 2017, the nationwide real estate index rose by 11.5%, according to Egypt’s leading real estate portal Aqarmap.  Of course because of inflation, in real terms the house price index actually fell by 14% y-o-y to May 2017.  But that is a much lesser fall than the decline in value of the Egyptian Pound. 

So Egypt's moneyed classes are buying property like there is no tomorrow.

In the long run, the flotation of the pound – long overdue, according to some economists – will improve Egypt's external competitiveness, and thus attract more foreign investment into the real estate market. 

The high inflation has been exacerbated by the decision to substantially increase fuel and electricity prices, also believed to be economically necessary.  But the high inflation is expected to gradually subside when the market has fully adjusted.

In recent months, the government implemented several reforms, in line with the three-year IMF reform programme:

  • A value-added tax (VAT) was introduced.
  • Egypt’s Investment Law was amended to attract more foreign investors.
  • Fuel and electricity prices were raised by up to 42% since May 2017.
  • The price of sugar was raised by 40% for some Egyptians.
  • The CBE has abolished a ‘priority list’ for imports.
  • The time and day limits during which banks are allowed to execute foreign currency exchanges have been extended.

But the economic transition is full of risks. The competence of the Egyptian government is low.  Grand schemes such as the expansion of the Suez canal and the move of the administrative capital out of Cairo have been adopted with too little input from rational economic planners.

Yet for all that, property seems a sure bet.  Other reforms are also boosting the property market.

In 2015, Law 17/2015 was ratified by President el-Sisi, relaxing restrictions on foreign ownership of land and property, and allowing the government, Egypt's biggest landowner, to contribute land to the private sector as part of public-private partnership schemes against a share of the revenue.

The government is now expected to fast track a new Investment Law, further relaxing foreign ownership rules, introducing tax windows and easing current restrictions on the repatriation of capital.

“This new law should increase investor confidence and create new development opportunities,” said Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL).

Buoyed by strong demand from both domestic and foreign homebuyers, some even expect Egypt to become the world’s fastest-growing real estate market in 2017, according to Euromonitor International.

“With a negative real interest rate and a devalued Egyptian pound, domestic investors are likely to increasingly turn to real estate, which they perceive as a relatively safe investment option that provides a hedge against inflation and further currency fluctuation,” said Craig Plumb of JLL MENA. “The devaluation of the EGP also makes the Cairo market more attractive for Egyptians living abroad and overseas investors.”

Foreigners can buy property in Egypt, under Law No 230 of 1996. However, foreigners cannot buy more than two pieces of real-estate, which cannot exceed 4,000 square metres (sq. m.), and their purpose must be for a family member to live in the property. If registered, the property cannot be sold or rented for five years.

Egypt’s economy grew strongly by 4.3% in 2016, up from 4.4% in 2015, 2.9% in 2014, 3.3% in 2013, 2.2% in 2012, and 1.8% in 2011. In Q1 2017, the economy expanded again by 3.9% from a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Planning.

The economy is expected to expand by 3.5% this year and by another 4.5% in 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Erratic house price movements

Egypt has seen erratic house price movements in the past few years, buffeted by economic and political events. The following data come from various sources:

  • Property prices in Egypt rose 13.7% (4.5% in real terms) in 2005
  • House prices then dropped 0.4% (-4.4% in real terms) in 2006
  • House prices fell 0.6% (-10.4% in real terms) in 2007, according to the 2008 Egypt Housing Survey conducted by Bearing Point Inc, which had a cross-Egypt sample.
  • House prices fell further in 2008, due to the global crisis.
  • By end-2009, house prices in the secondary market had fallen by about 37%, in real terms, according to local real estate analysts.
  • Egypt’s housing market strongly recovered in early-2010, mainly due to robust economic growth. House prices were estimated to have risen by about 10% in 2010.
  • In 2013, house prices rose by 9% (-2.4% in real terms), according to the Aqarmap Real Estate Index.
  • In 2014, house prices rose by 11.4% (1.1% in real terms).
  • In 2015, house prices dropped 4.7% (-14.2% in real terms), amidst political uncertainty and civil unrest.
  • In 2016, the property market bounced back, with house prices rising by 24.7% (1.2% in real terms).

Demand remains strong

Egypt residential supply

Demand remains strong at all income levels, buyers having turned to real estate for security amidst economic and political uncertainties.

“Local demand for residential units continues to be strong through Q1 2017 and is expected to remain steady,” said JLL.

The median price for a one-bedroom apartment in Cairowas EGP 1 million (US$56,180) in 2016, according to OLX, a global online marketplace. The top locations searched for in Cairo were NasrCity, Al Maadi, Sheikh Zayed, Heliopolis and the Fifth Settlement.

El Gouna, a premier resort town located in the Red Sea, has one of the most expensive housing in Egypt, with apartment prices ranging from EGP18,500 (US$1,041) to EGP19,500 (US$1,097) per square metre (sq. m.), according to Colliers. Villa prices range from EGP26,000 (US$1,463) to EGP38,000 (US$2,139) per sq. m.

On the NorthCoast apartment prices range from EGP9,000 (US$507) to EGP21,000 (US$1,182) per sq. m. while villa prices start at EGP10,000 (US$563) per sq. m.

Residential property prices in Egypt’s major resort towns (in sq. m.), 2017

VILLAS APARTMENTS
EGP USD EGP USD
El Gouna 26,000 – 38,000 1,463 – 2,139 18,500 – 19,500 1,041 – 1,097
NorthCoast 10,000 – 17,000 563 – 957 9,000 – 21,000 507 – 1,182
SahlHasheesh 8,500 – 14,500 478 – 816 14,500 – 18,500 816 – 1,041
Ain Sokhna 7,000 – 15,000 394 – 844 6,000 – 10,500 338 – 591
Sharm El Sheikh 7,500 – 14,900 422 – 839 5,000 – 10,500 281 – 591
MarsaAlam - - 6,000 – 9,000 338 – 507
RasSedr 3,200 – 7,500 180 – 422 3,500 – 7,000 197 – 394
Source: Colliers

About 33,000 residential units are scheduled for delivery over the next 3 years. Most are located in New Cairo and 6th of October, according to JLL.

Several major construction projects, mostly fully-integrated communities, have beenlaunchedin recent months:

Palm Hills Developmentrecently unveiled the expansion of its integrated residential community in West Cairo. Palm Hills plans to launch the first phase of a new 12.6 million sq. m. project in 2018. The development is expected to add residential build up area ranging from 6 to 8 million sq. m.

El Mostakbal Urban Development Company is also developingMostakbal City, a 45 million sq. m. fully integrated green community near the New Capital City. The project is divided into 5 phases, with many residential compounds.

iCity October is another fully integrated community in Sheikh Zayed City, in West Cairo. It is being developed by Mountain View Sisban Alliance, in partnership with the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA).The same developer has also launchediCity New Cairo, a new mega project in the heart of New Cairo being built on 500 acreswhich will offer a wide range of properties, from apartments to townhouses and standalone villas. The project is expected to be completed in 2020 and will add about 18,000 residential units to the market.

However, investments in the lower segments of the market remain weak. The country’s major developers tend to cater exclusively to the upper middle and upper classes due to the absence of an efficient mortgage law.

Approximately 50% of the population is classified as lower income and around 37% of urban space in Egypt consists of informal settlements, while “unsafe slums” are roughly 1% of urban areas, according to Sherif El-Gohary, of the Ministry of Urban Renewal and Informal Settlements.

The Sisi regime and army rule

Previous President Mohammed Morsi succeeded Hosni Mubarak in June 2012, but was ousted by a military coup in July 3, 2013.Current president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the ex-general who led the coup, has launched a crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood supporters, and cemented army rule.

Amid the thousands of Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers in jail are dozens, if not hundreds, of secular activists jailed for their political activities. Meanwhile a growing number of liberals have left the country to go abroad, since no opposition is allowed, and any opposition, even any humorous comment, can result in immediate arrest and long prison terms.Authorities have also ordered travel bans and asset freezes against prominent human rights organizations.

Under the Sisi regime, the commercial reach of the military has greatly expanded. The army is all over the place. More than 50 hotels are run by the army, their profits never declared; new petrol station licenses go exclusively to Wataneya, an army-controlled company, with soldiers manning the petrol pumps; pasta is sold by Macarona Queen, an army company; mineral water is sold by Safi, an army-controlled company; all the major roll roads are run by the military; an army department called the Engineering Department of the Armed Forces buys houses and lands for commercial purposes, again wholly exempt from any audit or taxation.

This is not all: the plan is that the area around the pyramids will be controlled by an army department called the Sector of the Civil Service, with tickets sold to the benefit of the military; and an army cement monopoly is being planned. There is no Parliamentary oversight of any of these activities.

It is a system of extraordinary daily corruption. Military-controlled projects are mostly built by the Engineering Department of the Armed Forces (building civil and military infrastructure, bridges, schools, tourist projects, the development of all sports activities, plus low-income housing projects, plus urbanistic projects).

These projects are then run by the Department of the National Service Projects (which runs companies dealing with petrochemicals, cement, petroleum, land and agriculture; any project to do with industrialisation and mechanisation and to do with agriculture); mineral water (Safi); pasta (Macarona Queen); plus a maritime shipment company; and, under the Department of Clubs and Hotels for the Military, run by field marshals Nabil Salamah and Ismael el Behery, hotels, clubs and rest houses - examples being Queen Service which controls the Wi Fi restaurants and the hotel chains Tolip and Tiva).

All these companies are run by military men, in military uniform, with conscript soldiers often doing the menial work.

The army is happy to sell land to foreign companies, such as to the French supermarket chain Carrefour. But foreign enterprises become involved at their own risk, always open to the likelihood of being squeezed, in a situation where the army makes the law.

Sisihas asserted that the military will deliver about 1,350 projects by end-2018, and has estimated its contribution to the country’s GDP at about 1% to 1.5%; but others claim that the military’s commercial reach is wider, constituting between 20% and 25% of GDP.

In May 2017, Sisi approved a new law that aims to regulate nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Egypt. The new law will make it impossible for NGOs to function independently, as it strictly controls the funding of NGOs and gives the government the authority to monitor and challenge their day-to-day activities.

“This new law represents a huge step backward for freedom of association in Egypt,” said Joe Stork of Human Rights Watch. “The Egyptian authorities have squeezed shut whatever limited space remained for nongovernmental groups in Egypt and driven the human rights community underground.”

Despite these abuses, the sycophantic press daily signs the praises of the regime. Egyptian TV channels, which are very numerous and have enormous audiences in a country of high illiteracy, talk about the wonderful achievements of Sisi, the great genius of Sisi, the admiration of foreign leaders for Sisi, and complain about the viciousness of the Qatari-Israeli-Iranian-Western conspiracies against Egypt.

Egypt’s external competitiveness improving

Egypt exchange rate

Whatever Egypt’s long-term future, for now the economy’s outlook remains positive. The economy is expected to grow by 3.5% this year, amidst the government’s decision last year to float the pound and introduce economic reforms. Economic growth is projected to accelerate to 4.5% in 2018.

The economy grew strongly by 4.3% in 2016, from annual GDP growth rates of 4.4% in 2015, 2.9% in 2014, 3.3% in 2013, 2.2% in 2012, and 1.8% in 2011, according to the IMF.

Egypt's dramatic step of allowing its domestic currency, the Egyptian pound, to trade freely, was a necessary condition for the IMF to grant the country a US$12 billion loan.

On November 3, 2016, the CBE had set the exchange rate tentatively at EGP 13 per USD 1 (a 46.3% decline from its previous exchange rate of EGP 8.88 per USD 1).  But the EGP quickly depreciated sharply, reaching EGP 18.12 = USD 1 in June 2017.

“The flexible exchange rate regime…will improve Egypt’s external competitiveness, support exports and tourism and attract foreign investment,” said IMF Mission Chief for Egypt, Chris Jarvis. “All of this will help foster growth, job creation and stronger external position for the country.”

Egypt gdp unemployment

The floating of the pound has helped the country narrow its trade deficit. During the first half of 2017, imports declined by 30% while exports increased by 8%, reducing the trade deficit by 46% from the previous period.

“Encouragingly, new exports orders rose at the fastest rate on record in May, suggesting that the sharp devaluation of the pound in November is having a positive impact on exports,” said KhatijaHaque, head of MENA Research at Emirates NBD.

Investor confidence has also increased sharply. “Foreign investment in domestic treasury bills and bonds reached $1.25 billion in June alone, and about $9 billion since the flotation,” said Deputy Finance Minster Ahmed Kojak. This compares with just US$1.1 billion the previous year.

Egypt’s budget deficit fell to 10.9% of GDP in FY2016/17, from 12.5% of GDP the previous year. The deficit is projected to decline further to 9.3% of GDP in FY2017/18 and to 7.3% of GDP the following year, according to the World Bank.

This improvement is surprising, given the almost complete collapse of Egypt's previously huge tourist industry.  The industry was crippled by the political turmoil, and by the ISIL bombing of Russian Metrojet Flight 9268 over the Sinai peninsula in 2015, which killed 224 people, indefinitely halting all Russian flights to the country, and by the deadly bombing of Coptic churches in Tanta and Alexandria earlier this year. The number of tourists visiting Egypt plummeted from 14.7 million to 5.4 million in 2016, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation. 

Key interest rates at record highs

In July 2017, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) raised its benchmark interest rate by 200 basis points to reach a record high of 18.75%. The overnight lending rate and the discount rate were also raised to 19.75% and 19.25%, respectively.

Egypt interest rates

The key rates have been raised by a cumulative 700 basis points since November 2016, in an effort to rein in inflationary pressures after the government floated the pound and raised fuel and electricity prices.

Social tension a major risk

Egypt inflation

The high inflation has aggravated social tensions, given the country’s persistently high unemployment and poverty incidence.Around half of Egypt’s 92 million people are living near or below the poverty line. Unemployment was 12% in Q1 2017, a slight decline from 12.7% during the same period last year, according to state statistics agency CAPMAS.

“The reforms are making us move faster,” said SherifElkholy of equity firm Actis. “The harder steps have been done, but make no mistake: it will still be a challenging period with inflation and the middle class struggling with disposable income.”

Rents falling sharply

Rentsfor high-end residential properties in Cairo, which are sometimes paid in US dollars, continue to fall. Because of the dramatic decline in the USD value of local salaries due to devaluation, these rents would definitely have declined substantially.

Rentals for the apartments in New Cairo plunged 31% year-on-year in Q1 2017. On a quarterly basis, New Cairo apartments registered a 14% rentals decline, according to Jones Lang Lasalle. Villas in New Cairo registered year-on-year rentals decline of 60%, with latest quarter rentals falling by as much as 33%.

In the 6th of October district, apartment rentals dropped 24% in Q1 2017 from a year earlier, with latest quarter rentals decline of 3%. Over the same period, villa rentals fell by 33% year-on-year, with latest quarter rentals drop of 3%.

In 2016, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Cairo was EGP5,000 (US$280) per month, according to OLX.

Expats looking for apartments prefer direct methods rather than using realtors. One of the most popular methods is going to the American University in Cairo to look for apartment ads. Another one is going directly to the residential building of choice, and ask the bawab or doorman for vacancies.

Affordability a big issue for the poor

With a population of 90 million plus, Egypt needs around 175,000 to 200,000 additional housing units each year, and has a housing shortage of 3.5 million. While there are approximately 5.6 million vacant units nationwide, most of these are beyond the means of the low and middle income classes.

In response, President El-Sisi has announced the construction of one million housing units for low income youth. The USD 40 billion project is a collaboration with Arabtec Holding, a UAE company, and is the largest construction contract in the region. Called “For the Youth”, the project is expected to be finished by 2022, housing low income people in 13 cities across the country.

About 44.4% of Egypt’s housing stock is occupied by owners, while about 35.7% of the housing stock is rented. Other tenure types are gifts, and in–kind privileges (14.1%), and public housing (5.5%).

Residential supply stood at 139,000 by end-2016, up 88% from 2012’s 74,000, according to JLL. Another 33,000 units are expected to be constructed over the next 3 years. Low-income housing, usually priced around US$13,946 per unit remains unaffordable and most developers do not supply houses to this income group.

The price of the cheapest social housing units has risen by 14% per year over the last eight years, while average incomes only increased by 1% per year over the same period.

Mortgage market is expected to grow rapidly

The Egyptian mortgage market dates back to 2001, when Presidential Decree No. 277 created the Mortgage Finance Authority (MFA). But currently Egypt's mortgage market is equivalent to less than 1% of the country’s GDP, according to Mona El-Baradei of Egyptian Banking Institute.

However, the mortgage market is now expected to grow rapidly due governmentinitiatives.

To address the housing shortgage, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) launched a mortgage finance program in 2014 to finance low income housing projects – allocating LE 20 billion (USD 1.13 billion) to banks in the forms of deposit, to benefit low income citizens. Qualified borrowers can borrow money at an interest rate of 7% for low-income citizens and 8% for the middle-income segment.

In February 2016, the program was expanded to increase the number of beneficiaries and to add a new segment of low-income citizens at a lower interest rate of 5%. In addition, above middle-income citizens were also included at an interest rate of 10.5%.

Earlier in 2016, the CBE allocated EGP500 million (USD28.15 million) to mortgage companies for the first tranche of the program. Moreover, 14 banks provided EGP 5 billion (USD281 million) to finance 62,000 housing units as part of the program, according to Mai Abdel Hamid, the head of Mortgage Finance Fund.

As such, the number of housing units under mortgage financing is expected to increase to about 15,000 units every month, starting next year, as compared to 6,000 units without the initiative.

The number of mortgage finance companies (MPC) operating in Egypt increased from only 2 in 2005 to 13 in 2016. These include Sakan, Al-Qula, EHFC, Egyptian Housing Finance Co., EMRC, Amlak, Al-Tayasor, Tamweel, Tamweel Emirates, Naeem, Al-Ahly, Arab African International, Al-Ahly United, and El Masreyin, according to the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (EFSA).

In fact, Egypt was named by Euromonitor International as the world’s fastest growing mortgage market in 2017, due to huge domestic demand. “The country will see an annual expansion of  18.9% in mortgaged households in 2017,” said PavelMarceux of Euromonitor.

Construction of the ambitious ‘Cairo Capital’ now underway

The Cairo metropolitan area is now nearing 20 million people, making it one of the most congested cities in the world. In fact, traffic costs amounted to about 4% of Egypt’s entire GDP, according to World Bank estimates.

In 2015, the Egyptian government unveiled plans to build a new administrative and financial capital, dubbed "Cairo Capital" and “global city for Egypt’s future”, in an effort to address crowding, pollution, and rising house prices in Cairo. The proposed 700 sq. km. city will be developed in phases over 40 years, according to MostaphaMadbouly, Egypt’s housing minister.

Cairo Capital could house up to 7 million people, with the initial plans including 21 residential districts housing 1.1 million residential units, 40,000 hotel rooms, 663 health care facilities, 1.8 million sq.m. of residential space and 1,250 mosques and churches.

The new capital city is envisioned as a “Smart City” which will "take advantage of the sustainable technologies of today as well as be adaptable to future technologies,” according to Cairo Capital’s website. Cairo Capital will include 91 sq. m. of energy farms employing renewable energy sources.

The project initially involved Emaar Properties, one of the largest real estate development companies in the Middle East, as its developer but talks between the parties stalled due to financing issues. In October 2016, China Fortune Land Development Company (CFLD) agreed to provide a US$20 billion investment, following a previous injection of US$15 billion by another Chinese developer.This brings the project closer to the US$45 billion budget requirement for its Phase 1, which is expected to take about five years to complete.

Construction of the road linking Cairo to the new Cairo Capital has already begun.

The new Suez Canal

A key project of the Sisi government has been the New Suez Canal project, largely funded by popular contribution, and completed in July 2015. It adds a new 35-kilometre-long second shipping lane in the existing 164-kilometre-long canal, allowing ships to pass in opposite directions, and deepens and expands a 37-kilometre-long section of the existing canal.

Informed opinion is sceptical about the project’s potential profitability. So far this scepticism has been justified. Indeed the realism of many projects launched by the government is highly doubtful. 

Investment hotspots

Buying opportunities in Egypt – and particularly the newly-built opportunities - can be conceptually divided into three areas: Cairo, the Red Sea, and the Mediterranean Coast.

1. Cairo

  • Emaar’s Uptown Cairo

The EGP 12 billion (US$2.2 billion) Uptown Cairo is being constructed by the developer EmaarMisr. The development offers several residential villages, a golf course, malls, sports and leisure facilities, as well as a business park. This is the first wholly foreign-owned developer to enter the Egyptian market.

  • Katameya Heights

The super-luxurious Katameya Heights launched prior to Uptown Cairo, covers an area of about 1.5 million sq. m. Katameya Heights, introduced in 1997, were purely local. Formerly a stretch of desert, Katameya Heights is now a large suburban area, with large houses, and has attracted enormous interest. The resort offers marvelous clubhouse, beautifully designed golf course and luxurious villas.

  • Rehab City

Rehab City, a real estate development located in New Cairo, is being developed by TalaatMoustafa Group (TMG). The development is located on the Cairo-Suez road. It offers many shopping malls and a cinema complex. Rehab City is preferred by many upscale locals.

  • Madinaty

With a total budget of EGP 60 billion (US$11 billion), Madinaty is considered one of the biggest and most expensive real estate developments in New Cairo. Developed by TalaatMoustafa Group(TMG), it will include 80,000 residential villas, townhouses and apartments. There will also be recreational and commercial areas, schools, medical facilities and hotels. Madinaty is adjacent to El Shrouq City. Construction began in July 2006.

  • New Cairo City

EmaarMisr is also building a 5,000-home 3.8 m sq. m. project, New Cairo City. The development is considered a new extension to Cairo, the capital. New Cairo City, when completed, is expected to feature several villages offering gated villas, townhouses and high-rise apartments.

Mivida is a EGP 6 billion (US$1.1 billion) residential development located at the fifth district in the New Cairo City. The 3.8 million sq. m. development will feature 5,000 apartments, townhouses and villas.

2. Red Sea

  • Sharm el Sheikh

Sharm el Sheikh is now the country’s most luxurious and attractive resort, newer and more upscale than Hurghadaand is host to 5-star hotels and international conferences. Sharm has a vibrant nightlife, and boasts many nightclubs, the longest continuous bar in the Middle East, and a marina which can handle private yachts and sailboats. Zoning laws limit building heights, which has prevented the surroundings’ natural beauty from being spoiled by high rises.

Sharm’s development has been led by tourism, though hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton have sold private villas. New residential developments tend to follow this hotel-based pattern, such as the just-completed Sierra Resort Nabq Bay; the Laguna Vista Residence in Naqb Bay; the Carlton Resort, Hadava. Fully residential is Montazah in RasNasranr.

  • Hurghada

Hurghada is the most popular seaside resort in Egypt, though it is overcrowded and now slightly seedy. Hurghada has an international airport with direct flights to major European countries, as well as flights to Cairo. The city is divided into three parts: Downtown (the old part); Sekalla (the city center); and El Memsha (the modern part).

  • Gamsha Bay

In GamshaBay, 60 kilometers north of Hurghada,a 320 million sq. m. tourism and housing project is being developed by Damac, which developed the Dubai Towers, and will be completed over 10 years. The development has a total budget of EGP 2.9 billion (US$16 billion).

  • SahlHasheesh

Eighteen kilometers South of Hurghadalies SahlHasheesh Bay, where a purpose-built resort flanking 12.5 kilometres of sandy beach is being built. Covering 32 million square metres, by the time it was completed in 2014. SahlHasheesh has 20 5-star hotels and 8 golf courses. The Egyptian Resorts Company (ERC) owns the exclusive development rights.

  • Port Ghalib

Much further south near MarsahAlam, two and a half hours from Luxor, the Port Ghalib project is being developed by Al Kharafi Group of Kuwait along 18 kilometres of shoreline. It opened in November 2007, with around 100 properties for sale, and a further 350 in the pipeline. MarsahAlam has a newly-built international airport, an international convention centre, a man-made lagoon, and a multiplicity of sports facilities. A marina and the usual mix of shotel/residential mix are planned.

3. Mediterranean Coast

  • Marassi

The Marassi resort, worth around EGP9.92 billion (US$1.74 billion), is being developed by Emaar. It is located on a 7-km coastline at Sidi Abdel Rahman on the Mediterranean near El Alamein. Marassi resort will offer up to 3,000 hotel rooms, luxury villas, chalets, a marina, an 18-hole golf course and healthcare facilities.

  • Almaza Bay

Travco, the main German tour, is building AlmazaBayatMarsaMatruh on the Mediterranean between AlexandriaandLibya.TheAlmaza Bay Resort has a total area of 5 million sq. m. and boasts about 2.5km of flawless beachfront in one of the most pristine beaches in the world. The three major developments in Almaza Bay include the Jaz Almaza Beach Resort, Jaz Crystal Resort and Jaz Oriental Resort.






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