CAIRO: The weather outside was warmer than usual for this time of year. Luxury cars lined up at the gates of the Cairo International Conference Center. Inside, the air conditioning cooled down the temperature – “but, not the prices, said one visitor to the Next Move real estate exhibition.
Nirmeen Mohamed, a 28-year-old HR specialist at a Cairo law firm, was at the three-day exhibition to shop for an apartment with her fiancé. Mohamed said they visited most of the booths and found prices to be reasonable compared to Cairo. But still, she said, “not quit within our budget.
In the capital of the most populous country in the Arab world, 18 million people are crammed in small living quarters and crowded streets. By contrast, the numerous residential developments on the outskirts of the capital offer fresh air, spacious housing and a little more green than you see around the city.
Most of the new developments are located either on the west side of Cairo (such as in Sixth of October city) or on the east (namely the New Cairo expansion).
There are around 13 areas around the country being flooded with real estate developments, with New Cairo and Sixth of October in the lead, but also including the North Cost, Ain Sokhna, the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road, and along the Suez, to name a few.
Being held for the second year, Next Move brought together developers of more than 100 projects, financiers and prospective home buyers under one roof.
The numerous displays and booths set up by developers show one thing: Egypt’s expansive deserts are getting a touch of green with most projects boasting parks, pools, sports clubs and other aspects missing from life in central Cairo.
Salem Mohamed, a 45-year-old who manages his small company, noted that “the American and European architectural style is quite dominant.
The cost of units offered at the exhibition ranges from LE 500,000 to LE 900,000 (around $90,000 to $163,000) and can be financed within five years, said a sales agent at the Palm Hills Development booth, “they probably will be suitable for [new] couples looking, not spacious [enough] for a big family.
Mohamed’s monthly salary is a little more than LE 12,000 as is her fiancé’s, so they are prime candidates for the units on offer at Next Move.
But for a majority of people in Egypt, where the GDP per capita is $2,160 or LE 11,880, these prices are out of reach.
But for those who can afford it, companies like Emaar Misr offer customers fully-furnished apartments, villas and town houses.
Palm Hills Development came to the exhibition with a new financial scheme: Pay Back Homes, which provides customers with a new investment strategy along with their new home, said Shrief Sief El-Nasr, vice president for sales and marketing at Palm Hills.
To cope with the global economic crisis, Palms Hills also offered smaller units to cater to the needs of newlyweds. “In the wake of the financial crises, this will be a very good solution, particularly after the stock markets wiped out more than 50 percent of our savings, said Sameh Mahmoud, an investor in the stock markets.
While no official figures were released, several repeat visitors said this year’s turnout is clearly lower than year one.
But as Aliya Mansour, a 38-year-old housewife, “Egypt’s 80 million people will never stop needing new apartments.