Egypt Remains A Key Expansion Market, Says Majid Al Futtaim

Despite Egypt’s political instability, it remains one of three key expansion markets for Majid Al Futtaim Properties, the Dubai-based mall developer.

George Kostas, the company’s chief executive, made the comment yesterday. Media reports last month said the developer was waiting for the political unrest in Egypt to stabilise before making further investments.

“From our perspective, it’s all systems go and we’re not stopping,” Mr Kostas said. “Yes, the instability that’s occurred recently has been unfortunate, but we see it as something that will pass in time, and we’re there for the long haul.”

Egypt is one of the three markets, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, that the company plans to focus on in the next two to three years, following an extensive strategy review,according to Mr Kostas.

“Once we’ve satisfied ourselves with whatever we can do in those three countries, we’ll look further afield. But for now, we want to be disciplined and really focus on those three countries,” he said.

“Egypt represents a quarter of our business, we’ve been there for over 10 years, and we’re very happy with the performance of our existing assets.”

Majid Al Futtaim Properties began construction work this year on the Mall of Egypt, a 162,500 square metre development outside Cairo, that is due to open in 2015.

The mall will include about 400 retail outlets, a Carrefour hypermarket, an indoor ski slope and an amusement park.

Two further Egyptian malls are at the development and design phase, and the company is looking to acquire further sites.

The developer is also looking to increase its mixed-use and residential portfolio so that it becomes as large as its mall business, according to Mr Kostas.

“In the mixed-use and residential space we currently have about 6 million square metres in total, spread around in Beirut, in Muscat, as well as a couple of sites in Sharjah and a couple of sites here in Dubai,” he said. “Our aspiration is for that business to increase its size so that it contributes as much as our mall business does in the long term.”

The company hoped to make an announcement regarding this in the coming months, he said without elaborating.

Source: The National