CAIRO: Egyptian property developer Amer Group sees enough untouched land along Egypt’s coasts and in its deserts for another 20 of the firm’s residential and commercial developments, which would more than double its current total.
The firm, which on Sunday announced a construction joint venture with Dubai’s Arabtec, is also looking outside its home market. Sales in its Syrian project Porto Tartous are expected to start in mid-November, its chairman said on Monday.
"Egypt is full of beautiful areas that need to be explored," Mansour Amer told the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit. "We believe … as a company we can do another 20 Portos in Egypt."
The company also sees potential for its Porto-branded developments in markets like Saudi Arabia, custodian to Islam’s holiest sites, banking on the firm’s ability to tailor its resort towns to the country’s conservative tastes.
"We don’t have the pubs, we don’t have the discos. We don’t have a lot of things that they don’t want but we have … a lot of fun for the families, and this is exactly what would fit markets like that," said Amer, also the group’s chief executive.
Amer Group has said it is interested in a share flotation but that a listing on the bourse is just one of several options and it is too early to discuss details.
It sells second homes on Egypt’s coasts and elsewhere. One of its projects is Golf Porto, covering 2.2 million square meters in the mountainous Ain Sokhna area where it has plans for a mountain-top 18-hole golf course.
It also owns hotels, restaurants, malls, a catering firm, a utilities company and other businesses.
The firm has been among the first to invest in areas which now host firms like Emaar Properties. One of its earlier projects included a development in the Sinai resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh, where it needed to clear out landmines left by a series of Arab-Israeli wars.
One of the firm’s next big projects is in Marsa Matrouh, a northern coastal area, which will include about 2,000 homes and hotel rooms. Construction on the project is expected to start before year-end, Amer said.
"We are adding new destinations to the map of this country," he said.
The development will be near waters where Cleopatra was once said to have bathed and a prime tourist attraction in a country where tourism accounts for over 11 percent of gross domestic product.
Amer said Egypt could draw plentiful investment thanks to its location, big population and growing economy, but needed more infrastructure to encourage developers to expand into some of the country’s undeveloped regions.