The stabilization of the Egyptian Pound (EGP) has attracted increased interest from foreign investors and greater economic optimism in the country, according to JLL’s Q1 Cairo report. The devaluation of the Egyptian Pound brought a period of initial volatility, however the currency has now stabilized at around (EGP 18 : USD 1).
The hotel and tourism industry has in particular benefited from the devaluation, as Egypt has become a more affordable destination for international tourists. “With security issues addressed, travel bans removed and increased tourism promoting campaigns, demand for hotels in Cairo is expected to pick up significantly,” says Ayman Sami, Country Head of Egypt, JLL.
“Occupancy rates increased significantly to reach sixty nine percent in the year to January 2017 due to increased tourism activity. This comes on the back of the government’s efforts to improve airport security, as well as the development of inbound tourism from neighboring Arab countries.”
Cairo Office Market
New Cairo continues to be the most active location for new office supply. Along with recently offered and under construction projects located on 90 Road, Cairo Festival City is expected to complete five new office buildings in Q3 2017 adding 60,000 square metre of grade A office space to the New Cairo supply.
Smart Village East at Al Bourouj: Capital Group Properties (CGP) has announced a new 1,200 Feddan mixed-use community. The development constitutes residential, retail and smart office units.
The effective increase in rental prices following the flotation affected smaller companies, some of who were forced to cancel relocation plans to grade A office space due to increased financial pressures.
The negotiating power has shifted in favour of tenants, many of who are seeking to renegotiate their lease terms prior to engaging in long term contracts. Banks are the most active participants in the offices sector at present, while FMCGs are negotiating their lease terms in order to reduce their market exposure. Oil & gas occupiers are generally reducing their activities due to current market conditions, but are expected to show increased demand in the medium term on the back of new field explorations.
Cairo Residential Market
Q1 2017 saw the announcement of several new projects across 6th of October City and New Cairo. Following the increase in unit prices in EGP terms, many developers are now offering more lenient and attractive payment plans to alleviate the effect of the decrease in purchasing power.
Local demand for residential units continues to be strong through Q1 2017 and is expected to remain steady.
There has been strong interest in the first tenders from Cairo New Capital City. Over 200 companies have responded to these tenders including Sodic, Saudi Egyptian, Al Hokair and Talaat Mostafa. There have also been 16 actual submissions. This significant interest reflects the demand to acquire land for new residential projects.
Cairo Retail Market
Q1 2017 marked the opening of Mall of Egypt in 6th October City, which includes “Ski Egypt” and the country’s first VOX Cinemas Cineplex. This investment is estimated to have generated 41,000 direct and indirect jobs and provides a major new attraction to the west of the city.
New Cairo continues to be the fastest growing area for retail developments associated with residential expansions. Majid Al Futtaim continues to expand in Cairo. The opening of the Mall of Egypt and the upcoming Almaza City Center will be accompanied by a major expansion of the Carrefour network to more than 60 branches by the end of 2019. Almaza City Center, a 103,000 square meter of regional mall located on the Cairo-Suez Road and Nasr Road in Heliopolis, is expected to be opened in Q1 2019.
Given the economic pressures placed on the retail sector following the devaluation of the EGP, landlords have revised their contractual terms to assist tenants. After correction for prime units’ rents and accounting for the applied capping mix, the average rental rate has dropped to USD 800 per square meter per annum.
Cairo Hotel Market
Q1 2017 saw the opening of the Westin Golf Resort in New Cairo, adding 138 rooms to the hotel supply. In Central Cairo, Sheraton Giza has been undergoing renovation works, while The St. Regis will be opening its doors in Q2 2017.
In the short term, hotel owners are expected to renovate older buildings and create value from more efficient operations rather than investing in new buildings during this phase of the cycle. In the longer run, the sector is focused on expansions towards ‘satellite cities’.
Market wide ADRs have declined significantly over the past year to USD 89 following the devaluation, but are expected to gradually improve throughout 2017.
The Sphinx International Airport opening in Q1 2017 is expected to accommodate 1.7 million passengers per year. Airport proximity is a vital demand drive in the hotel sector, given the traffic congestion experienced in Cairo. The new airport is likely to stimulate demand for hotels in the 6th of October area of the city.