Cityscape Egypt’s Exhibition returned this year from March 28th – 31st at the Egypt International Exhibition Center (EIEC), where the organizers have compiled a major list of developers to showcase their projects. Invest-Gate sits with Cityscape Egypt’s Exhibition Director Chris Speller who reveals what is in store this year and gives his insights on Egypt’s economic conditions as well as the country’s current investment hotspots.

As Egypt’s economy turns a corner, what is the current market sentiment towards Egypt from the real estate sector?

Egypt’s economic reform program is on track, thanks to aggressive measures taken by the government over the last year, and investors and developers have been responding positively to Egypt’s resilience by continuing with existing projects and launching several new ones. According to property consultant, JLL, Cairo’s property market has started to stabilize following a stretch of volatility due to the pound’s devaluation. The stabilization is giving way to a positive outlook for 2018 and we believe that homebuyers and investors will respond with confidence. JLL advises that developers are continuing to invest in existing and new projects and flexibility is key when it comes to payment offers. With increased investor confidence, the residential market is approaching the bottom of its cycle paving the way for an overall improved market condition in 2018. At this year’s Cityscape Egypt, we will be able to see market confidence as investors and homebuyers respond to a range of projects available at attractive prices.

In addition, the Egyptian government is aiming to fast-track the adoption of a new investment law to improve the investment environment in Egypt, which should further increase investor confidence and encourage the recommencement of some projects that are currently on hold. According to JLL, the law will aim to attract investment into real estate and other sectors by removing long standing bureaucratic obstacles. This is especially noteworthy for foreign investors.

For foreign investors, the country has become more attractive post-floatation, with experts maintaining that the country has created a well-functioning currency market that is reflected in the pound’s current rate, we’re confident that this year’s show will also attract foreign investors and Egyptian expatriates looking to purchase second homes. We have a multitude of exhibitors who will be speaking to this demand as they launch projects in some of the country’s most sought-after coastal neighborhoods.

How important is the event for the real estate industry in Egypt?

Over the last six years, Cityscape Egypt has acted as a barometer for the real estate industry in the country; responsible for fostering partnerships and creating opportunities that drive development and investment across the country. Our primary goal is to enable both local and cross-border real estate investment, which has the potential to shape the future of the real estate industry, as well as facilitate a knowledge-based dialogue that tackles the sector’s most pressing needs. The demand for housing in Egypt remains a central issue, Cityscape Egypt will connect the country’s residential developers with a vast number of potential homebuyers and investors. It is important to note that the effects of the devaluation in 2017 and subsequent float have been varied, but experts have revealed that it has caused a boom in the housing market as more people lean towards residential real estate as one of the few remaining stable investments. Due to Greater Cairo’s burgeoning population of more than 20 mn – roughly a quarter of Egypt’s total population – we have witnessed that demand for housing in the capital area continues to outstrip supply. There are many Egyptians who need quality housing from developers in the country and Cityscape Egypt will look at filling this gap. With 50% of Cairo’s residents between the ages of 15 and 40, marriages are a large contributor to the demand for real estate as many seek homes of their own. According to Oxford Business Group, there are an estimated 900,000 weddings per year in the country and thus a major driver of demand in the residential market. Coupled with this, the rise in consumer confidence and attractive payment plans at the show all point to Cityscape Egypt being ideally positioned to facilitate real estate investment for investors and homebuyers.

In your opinion, what are buyers in this market looking for and how will Cityscape Egypt cater to them?

Buyers are traditionally looking for apartment units, townhouses or villas in areas that are close to places of work schools, retail, and hospitals. Many homebuyers are now also looking at the capital’s most promising areas as Cairo expands its metropolis. The latest in the growing list of suburban cities is the New Administrative Capital and New Cairo. These are just some of the areas which will headline Cityscape Egypt and will be offered with flexible and affordable down payments and payment plans from developers. We believe that visitors will also look for a solid investment as they think about their long-term real estate plans. Experts tell us that higher levels of capital appreciation can be found in areas outside of the city center and potential homebuyers and investors will be mindful of this, considering that the New Administrative Capital has an average square meter rate that is slightly lower than the more established newer cities.

What can visitors expect at this year’s Cityscape Egypt?

There are quite a few things in store at this year’s Cityscape Egypt. We hit the ground running in January 2018, with our Business Breakfast on the 18th, titled Exploring New Frontiers on Egypt’s Landscape. The Business Breakfast features headline speakers, including: Eng. Ahmad Shalaby, managing director of Tatweer Misr; Ayman Sami, head of Egypt, JLL; Eng. Waleed Abbas, assistant to Minister of Housing, New Urban Communities Authority, and many more. Finally, our exhibition takes place from March 28th to 31st at the Egypt International Exhibition Center (EIEC). The show kicks off with exhibitors from Egypt who will showcase projects from across the real estate spectrum, both from Egypt and around the world, and we expect significant investment and interest from this. Some of the show’s exhibitors include: Palm Hills Development, Sodic, Hyde Park, Talaat Moustafa Group, Al Ahly For Real Estate Development – Sabbour, Wadi Degla, Misr Italia Properties, Rooya, and ARCO just to name a few.