Egypt contracts UAE for a mega housing project

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The Egyptian army will build one million housing units in collaboration with the UAE’s largest construction firm.

Shortly before his resignation as chief of the army to pave the way for a presidential bid, Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi attended a ceremony marking an agreement between the Egyptian army and Arabtec, Dubai’s largest listed construction firm, to build one million affordable housing units across Egypt.

The project is the biggest of its kind in the region, with an overall development value of LE280 billion ($40.23 billion). When finished, millions of Egyptians will have access to full-fledged communities, with public amenities such as schools, hospitals, parks and places of worship.

At the inaugural ceremony, it was announced that construction work will begin in the third quarter of this year. The first units will be completed in early 2017 and the rest will be ready before 2020.

The project is expected to create one million jobs, according to Taher Abdullah, head of the Armed Forces Engineering Department which is responsible for development projects.

The mega project is also expected to help boost the faltering economy, which has been struggling to attract investments and tourism post the 25 January 2011 revolution which toppled the government.

“The plan owes much to Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who is very keen to mobilise all efforts to support our brothers in Egypt by way of a multitude of humanitarian, economic and social initiatives,” said Hassan Abdullah Ismaik, managing director and CEO of Arabtec Holding, in a press statement.

The agreement comes following Egypt’s efforts to provide affordable housing for Egyptians and reduce a crippling housing deficit as a result of a fast growing population.

According to Arabtec’s press statement, the project will be funded mainly by a number of Egyptian and foreign banks which have already expressed interest in providing a range of affordable financing solutions that will appeal to a broad cross-section of the Egyptian population. It includes long-term payment of up to 20 years.

The residential communities will be developed in 13 locations in a number of Egyptian governorates covering 160 million square metres, of which 149 million square metres will be in Cairo while the rest will be divided between Alexandria, Fayoum, Beni Sweif, Menoufiya, Minya, Assiut, Souhag, Qena and Luxor.

“We at Arabtec are proud to join the efforts of the UAE government aimed at further consolidating bilateral ties between Egypt and the UAE. This historic project, the biggest of its kind in the region, will be a major boost to the Egyptian economy and will help improve the living standards for the Egyptian people,” Ismaik said.

Since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi on 3 July 2013, the UAE has extended almost $7 billion in aid to Egypt in the form of grants, interest-free deposits, petroleum products and funding development projects.