CAIRO - 16 June 2018: Memaar Al Morshedy and internationally acclaimed real estate developer Mohamed Hadid have announced that Egypt will be home to the world’s biggest building; Skyline.
The building is set to occupy a record-breaking 200,000 square meters and will be built over a seven-year period, with the first phase expected to be ready in three and a half years. The town-like complex will be established in Maadi, Cairo, and will offer its residents entertainment and dining experiences from a hyper market to ice skating and cinemas, while also housing offices.
To learn all about the iconic structure to come, Egypt Today Egypt sits down with Morshedy’s CEO Hassan Morshedy and Mohamed Hadid.
Memaar Al Morshedy target different segments in Egypt, while Hadid’s firm is a bit more luxurious in terms of the designs; how did this unlikely partnership come about?
Hadid: Actually, it’s pretty much the same. We cater to certain segments, and the segments they [Morshedy] cater to, we hope that they grow into the segments to which I deliver to in the future. So, the population, the youngsters who will be hopefully buying these products, they will grow into different clients in the future.
The structure itself is so massive and iconic that it deserves a well-thought of design for its magnitude. It needs a luxury design that will cater to the general public. For that, you need enough funds to be able to create a lifestyle within that structure. The combination of residential, commercial, public space and gardens—all these things need to be built within this complex. It needs, I think, somebody of my background—I build hotels, city centers, large homes and projects of large magnitudes—to be able to deliver such a project.
Does this mean that you are targeting the new generations?
Hadid: Well, we’re targeting today’s generations and future generations. We are not following any trends, we are really making new trends, and that’s what I love about the Morshedy Group, they always think ahead.
They’re not copying someone else or trying to be better and bigger than somebody else, they’re creating something [for] today’s young generation of Egyptians who are looking for first homes. Instead of owning their first homes in the suburbs, they will own it in the city, in a place where they can live, work and enjoy a safe environment for their family.
Why did you decide to launch this project in Egypt now?
Morshedy: The most [important] thing you need for an economy to grow is stability and safety. And I think Egypt is on track to both right now. If you look at what is happening in real estate in the past couple of months, you’ll see the amount of sales that companies have generated, I think, surpasses all the previous history of sales. Right now our sales, to this day are higher than our sales from last year or even in 2010.
What is happening right now is that Egypt is growing, Cairo is growing, we’re 15 million people and we’re growing; and we did our feasibility study and found that we’re growing by some 600,000 to 800,000 [people] every year.
There’s real demand. We [Egyptians] get married young at the age of 25 to 30, and an essential part of a marriage or a commitment in Egypt is an apartment, so there’s real demand.
If you cater to the upper middle class, which is 25-30 percent of the population here in Cairo, then you have a good supply of clients. Therefore, [by] launching such a project on a massive scale, we are creating an iconic building for Cairo and for Egypt and the world.
Secondly, it makes sense business-wise for us to do such a massive project. This project has studios; something you can never find in Cairo, not even in Kattameya. Most of the compounds offer villas or big duplexes, so with this kind of project, you can actually cater to studios and one-bedrooms, and two-bedrooms, from 50 meters up to 300-400 meters, as big as you want, but you have the product that you can cater to newlyweds.
Skyline building - Courtesy of official Skyline Website
Speaking of catering to newlyweds, where do the prices stand?
Morshedy: Right now, the prices stand at LE 8,900 per meter, and you pay that over eight years with only 5 percent down payment. That means that the average unit is not that expensive. It’s not cheap and it’s not high end, it caters to the upper middle class.
Is it within the same range of pricing as your other real estate properties?
Morshedy: It depends, because in other projects we don’t have units that are 40 or 50 meters in size. So, I’ll say that the average price starts at LE 400,000 or 500,000, and can go up to LE 2 million.
But the good thing about it is how the payment is facilitated: it’s over eight years. You don’t have to go to the bank to get a loan, you can go directly to the company and [they will] finance it. You have up to three or four years with no interest. . . . We’re making it easier for the consumer to come, not only to buy with the aim of purchasing a first home, but also to invest. So, if [the customer] has an apartment, they can get a studio and in the future, they can rent out that studio and it can generate income.
In terms of design, is it any different than your other projects?
Hadid: Not really, the way I look at it, it’s a bit easier to design this project than a city center. A city center comprises everything that will be in this building. What I love about this building is that it’s going to have a rooftop, it’s going to be one of the most beautiful gardens in the world, because it’s going to be designed well and it’s going to be maintained well.
This is going to be a clean-living environment, it’s going to be easy on the eye, very family friendly. The front of the building will be on a major street; it has levels that will bring water and greenery into the street. We’ll try to make it so it’s comfortable, friendly and safe. One thing is for sure; it’s going to be sustainable for the future and will be well managed.
Are you implementing any eco-friendly measures?
Hadid: Oh, absolutely! We have an [environmentally friendly] design [for] the building’s air conditioning system, the lighting [and so on]. It’s going to cost a few dollars more, but it will give the community a better living environment.
Master Plan of Skyline - Courtesy of official Skyline Website
A project of this size, it will become a capital of some sort, why didn’t you choose to do it in the New Administrative Capital?
Morshedy: Although lots of projects are going over there, I think I want to keep this close to home. I want to keep it close to the city center. In order for the New Capital to start working, I give it a 10-year process for people to start actually moving there, for universities, schools and supermarkets to start opening. It’s a huge, huge project. But I can start tomorrow to lay the groundwork for this project [Skyline]; it makes more sense for us, [and] for the client to be in the city center.
Maybe down the line we can do something in the New [Administrative] Capital, but for us, location is a phrase in real estate. We say ‘location, location, location’ so location was a big key for us to do something of this magnitude where I can cater for people from Nasr City, Heliopolis, Maadi and New Cairo.
I can bring in clients from all these different areas and districts. It’s also about 10 minutes from the Ain Sokhna gates, so it’s very close to a vacation destination. The location was key in doing such a project now, and starting now, instead of waiting 10 years for the New [Administrative] Capital to start getting built and then establishing the project over there.
I understand why Morshedy group is launching this kind of project in Egypt, but what about you?
Hadid: It’s very simple, I’ve done business in the past [with Morshedy] and we’re friends. I was very excited and honored to work in Egypt, I’ve always wanted to work in the Arab world. I’ve done a couple things, and I’ve done a project with them as well, so I’m very excited to do things in a [country that is] culturally and religiously close to me, [this project is] closer to the heart than [it is to] business. I am very, very, very pleased to have been chosen to work with the Morshedy Group because it’s going to be an iconic building and I want to be a part of it.
When is it expected to be finished?
Morshedy: It’s built in sections, so I think the first phase will be built in three and a half years and then cohesively phase two, phase three, phase four, phase five, so I’m saying the whole building for it to come all at once will probably take from seven to eight years, but people can start moving into the complex in three and a half years.