Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) has returned to the Egyptian real estate market with a replica to Mall of Emirates, only embracing a larger skiing park than that of its Dubai counterpart. While many are trolling about Ski Egypt’s prices, Mall of Egypt boasts about a number of opportunities and services it provides. Invest-Gate scouts prominent views on the project.
The Emirati developer has pumped more than EGP 300 mn for work developing a 10-square-kilometer road network surrounding Mall of Egypt. The investment aims to provide safe entrances and exits to the shopping center, facilitate commutes to and from the mall, as well as enhance traffic in the area.
The USD 722- mn- mega project announced that it would offer 41,000 direct and indirect job opportunities, catering to the needs of the low-income classes residing in 6th of October City, largely inhabited by Syrian refugees.
“Investing in the entertainment and retail industry has various effects. The construction of such a big mall will create thousands of jobs, for sure, which is good news. At a time when local consumption is hit by inflation, it is hard to believe retail sales will pick up very quickly,” Multiples Group’s Managing Director Omar El-Shenety told Invest-Gate.
“The mall itself is not very different than the rest of the malls I have been to; the entrance is very similar to that of Cairo Festival City (CFC). So it was not very impressive, especially that many of the shops were not open yet. But I was exceptionally impressed with Ski Egypt,” 23-year-old Eman Youssef told Invest-Gate.
As a video journalist at Dot Masr, Youssef was invited to the mall’s esteemed ski arena. Although she did not pay for her EGP-322-package out of her pocket, she is very eager to invest to experience snow again. “My friends joke when I tell them that, but Ski Egypt really exceeded my expectations,” she added.
As for the more fortunate classes, 6th of October City’s residents living in its more affluent areas prefer driving for almost two hours to reach Al Futtaim’s CFC in New Cairo on the east instead of Mall of Arabia, situated merely minutes from Mall of Egypt on the West.
“I prefer commuting to CFC -on the other side of the city- given the caliber of shoppers, as well as, the variety of brands and food chains Al Futtaim provides,” says Mai El-Samman, an expecting newly-wed residing a few minutes away from Mall of Arabia, told Invest-Gate. Developed by Al Futtaim, just as CFC is, Mall of Egypt presents a great addition to people living in the neighborhood.
During an inspection tour by Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr on February 28, Nasr said, “I call on all investors to establish integrated centers, catering to people’s needs and providing them with discrete services in one place.”
Many leftist activists denounced the project, rebutting that Mall of Egypt does not “cater” to anyone’s needs other than the beneficiaries of consumerism. Renowned lawyer at the Egyptian Center for Social and Economical Rights Tarek El Awady argued that investment projects like Mall of Egypt transform Egyptians into a consumerist society and occupies young people with activities that neither serve to develop their abilities nor raise their productivity.
“The real upside would be if this mall was able to attract regional tourists looking to Egypt as an alternative cheap destination for shopping as opposed to spending vacations at other regional destinations, which will definitely take time to materialize,” El-Shenety evaluated.
In 2015, Egypt’s tourism sector began targeting increasing inflows of Gulf tourists and launched the campaign This Is Egypt to attract tourists from the Arabian peninsula. Many find Mall of Egypt a great asset, considering that it would attract many tourists from the Arabian Gulf. Especially with the devaluation of the local currency, Egyptian prices have become generally very affordable to Gulf travellers, who would find spending a five-star vacation less costly than a vacation of same quality in Europe for instance.
With the inflation Egypt has experienced these past two years, the purchasing power of locals across all socioeconomic classes’ purchasing power has slipped, particularly with January inflation rates skyrocketing y-o-y earlier this year. What Al Futtaim’s Egyptian arm sees for its future still remains a mystery, as they were not available for comment.