Egyptian government officials and real estate experts assert that the country’s southern governorates can be very promising for businesspeople interested in the building materials sector as major construction projects are now underway in such areas. Invest-Gate sheds light on developments in Beni Sueif in Upper Egypt.

Speaking at major building materials conference BATIMAT in Cairo, Governor of Beni Sueif Sherif Habib announces the development of the Middle East’s largest granite and marble complex in his city, adding that the governorate is now home to five cement factories and a steel plant.

“The governorate is promising and presents very good investment opportunities for foreign and local businesspeople,” Habib states.

“Beni Sueif, near Cairo, has eight industrial zones and over 700 factories as well as a Samsung factory, which is the first of its kind in the Middle East region. The city is also attracting Chinese, South Korean, Indian and Turkish investors,” he adds.

Beni Sueif is home to some of the raw building materials, including granite, marble, and alabaster, the governor also asserts.

During a youth conference in Aswan earlier this year, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has urged officials to ramp up efforts attracting investments to the country’s southern governorates and move ahead with developmental projects in the region.

The governorates of Upper Egypt have been seeking investment inflows, with the Upper Egyptian governorate of Minya hosting a development and investment conference in 2015.

Several conferences were held over the past few years to attract a large number of investors to the south by presenting them with exceptional opportunities.

Given the governor’s statements, Invest-Gate digs deeper into the matter. “Upper Egypt is rich in resources, especially those related to the building and construction sectors–its development has become essential following decades of negligence,” Fathallah Fawzi, a real estate developer and expert, tells Invest-Gate.

Fawzi adds that he is optimistic about the investment outlook across Upper Egypt with the development of new cities, hosting several industries that may be attractive for foreign investors.

“Several projects pertaining to the building and construction industries are also being implemented in Upper Egyptian governorates in order to realize development in the region, which has been neglected by the government for decades,” Fawzi says.

Attempts to establish new cities date back to 1896, when three major new cities were established in the Suez Canal: Ismailia, Suez, and Port Said. Other new cities were then built on the outskirts of Cairo, gradually easing congestion in the capital and contributing to industrial expansion. Now the government is setting up four new cities in Upper Egypt, namely Assiut, Sohag, Beni Sueif and Minya in order to push forward development in the country’s southern region.

Government officials have repeatedly stated that Upper Egypt has been significantly marginalized with regards to investment and development opportunities despite its huge potential backed by manpower, land, and resources.

According to Governor Habib, the government is working on preparing solid infrastructure in Upper Egypt in order for foreign businessmen to invest in building hotels and tourism establishments in the governorates.

“Hotels are few and their occupancy is low in Beni Sueif and across other Upper Egyptian governorates. However, we are planning to put a strategy in place, aiming to attract investors in the tourism and hotel sectors,” the governor says.

Deputy Minister of Housing Ahmed Darwish mentions that the government is ramping up efforts to put an end to informal housing in Upper Egypt in order to provide a suitable environment for foreign businessmen to pump their investments in the region.

“We are working on building and upgrading 62,000 housing units across the country, including in the Upper Egyptian governorates of Aswan, Minya, Sohag, and Beni Sueif,” Darwish tells Invest-Gate.

The Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Industry drew up an industrial investment map of seven Upper Egyptian governorates, namely Qena, Sohag, Beni Sueif, Luxor, Minya, Aswan, and Assiut in order to highlight investment opportunities in these cities.

There about 600 investment opportunities in these governorates, all aiming to draw in foreign investors to the region, according to ministry data.

The ministry officials also paid field visits to all industrial zones in Upper Egypt in order to give them a boost, upgrade, as well as build more factories and workshops. “We are trying to empower this part of the country, reduce imports and increase locally-made products,” Minister of Trade and Industry Tarek Qabil says.

It seems that after decades of negligence the government has finally decided to include the country’s southern part in its plan to stimulate economic growth and push forward development, according to experts.