Thursday,19 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1237, (12 - 18 March 2015 )
Thursday,19 October, 2017
Issue 1237, (12 - 18 March 2015 )

Ahram Weekly

Turning a new page

Mohamed Al-Mikawi, managing director of the Al-Futtaim Real Estate Group, says the company’s dispute in Egypt has not affected its appetite for doing business in the country, in an interview with Niveen Wahish

Mohamed Al Mikawi
Mohamed Al Mikawi
Al-Ahram Weekly

The UAE-based Al-Futtaim Real Estate Group was one of several companies that recently settled long-standing disputes with the Egyptian government. It finalised a settlement with Egypt’s New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) by agreeing to pay NUCA an additional LE217.9 million for land purchased from the pre-revolutionary government.

Mohamed Al-Mikawi explained Al-Futtaim’s plans in an interview with the Weekly.

Your company recently settled its dispute with the Egyptian government. What factors helped you reach this settlement?

Egypt and the Arab world have witnessed four years of political instability that have affected security, as well as the social and economic situation. Accordingly, some decisions were postponed.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb’s government exerted significant efforts to reach a settlement, which is an indication of its willingness to resolve challenges facing investors and encourage them to continue investing in the Egyptian market.

What role did the political situation play in reaching the settlement?

The delay in our settlement, along with those of other real estate investors, was a result of the challenges that the Egyptian market has witnessed over recent years. After these challenges were over, the market started to regain its stability and attract more investment. Settlements with all investors received greater attention in order to turn a new page and give a boost to on-the-ground projects.

What are your plans for future investment?

The Group has approximately 700 acres in New Cairo, entirely allocated for Cairo Festival City. The project’s first phase was built on 185 acres, while the second and third phases will be constructed on the remaining land, making it one of the largest real estate investment projects in Egypt. We are planning to attend the economic conference in Sharm El-Sheikh to demonstrate our support for the Egyptian economy and explore future opportunities.

How do you view the current investment climate?

Reports from financial institutions indicate that Egypt’s economy is seeing improvements in the 2014-2015 fiscal year, with significant GDP growth. We have confidence in the Egyptian economy and its ability to overcome obstacles. Despite recent economic challenges and the depreciation of the Egyptian pound, we expect a recovery in economic growth rates in the coming period, which has already begun following the constitutional referendum and presidential elections.

 This is in addition to the preparations for the economic conference, which will help attract Arab and foreign investors. Additionally, the Legislative Reform Committee in Egypt has issued a number of reforms that have been approved by President Al-Sisi in an effort to increase stability across all sectors and promote sustainable development.

How can you guarantee that you won’t face similar litigation in the future, with new projects or contracts?

The strong Egyptian-Emirati relations provide a platform to negotiate and overcome any obstacles. The Al-Futtaim Group maintains excellent relations with all business partners, both in the public and private sectors. We respect all laws and regulations that govern the real estate sector in Egypt.

What is Egypt’s potential for attracting investments during and after the conference in Sharm El-Sheikh?

The Egyptian government is exerting significant efforts to attract investments in general and real estate investments in particular. National initiatives and partnership projects with the government offer attractive opportunities for investors.

All these measures will revive the Egyptian real estate sector in the coming period and attract investors through the new projects proposed during the economic conference.

To what extent is the war on terrorism in Egypt and the region affecting investment decisions?

The challenges facing the region have had a negative impact, delaying investments that could have accelerated market recovery. The situation is gradually improving as we head towards stability. The Egyptian government is exerting significant efforts to reassure investors by fighting terror and ensuring security.

Such incidents, which take place all over the world, will not hinder our business plans to boost the national economy during critical times, and do not impact our investments in the Egyptian market.

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