Cairo super mall to open after years of delay

Cairo Festival City Mall, a 168,000-square metre shopping centre, is set to finally open its doors for the first time today as a wave of new super malls is expected to hit the troubled Egyptian market.

The long awaited mall, developed by Al-Futtaim Group Real Estate Egypt, part of the Dubai-based Al-Futtaim Group, had originally been scheduled to open by the end of 2010, but was delayed by a land dispute and political instability.

A company spokesman said that 80 per cent of the available space had been leased, although the number of stores expected to open today is likely to be far fewer.

The mall includes Egypt’s first Ikea store, a 10,755-square metre Carrefour hypermarket, the region’s largest Kidzania education and entertainment centre, the country’s largest Marks & Spencer store, and more than 300 other stores and 95 restaurants.

Located on the east side of the ring road in Greater Cairo, Al-Futtaim said it had a catchment area of more than 8 million potential customers.

“This week sees the culmination of years of planning and hard work,” said Mohammed ElMikawi, the managing director of Al-Futtaim Group Real Estate Egypt. “Cairo Festival City Mall’s full offering will come online by next April.”

Cairo Festival City is the first of a wave of new shopping centres being built in the Greater Cairo area despite the ongoing political unrest.

Another 389,000 sq metres of lettable shopping space is set to join the market next year – a space slightly larger than that of The Dubai Mall, the world’s largest shopping centre – figures published yesterday by the property broker Colliers International show.

Moreover, that number is set to increase by another 250,000 sq metres in 2015 as projects – such as Majid Al Futtaim (MAF) Properties’ 162,500-square metre Mall of Egypt and an extension to the Mall of Arabia, Egypt’s current largest shopping centre – come on stream. Local property brokers estimate that 70 per cent of MAF’s project has already been leased.

According to Colliers, there is a further 850,000 sq metres of shopping space – double the size of The Dubai Mall – in Cairo, which is currently on hold.

Stuart Gissing, a regional director of Colliers International, said Cairo’s retail market had been surprisingly stable despite the political unrest.

“Some sectors, such as high street fashion, are actually seeing an increase in demand,” he said. “We are seeing that some retailers already in Egypt are definitely interested in occupying more space.

“However, new entrants into the Egyptian market are waiting to see what happens in the market before they commit.

“Developers, too, are split between those pressing ahead despite the political unrest and those taking a position and waiting.”

Cairo Festival City Mall is set to form the centrepiece of Cairo Festival City, a 3-million sq metre neighbourhood of housing, offices, hotels and schools in New Cairo.


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