Only a few miles from the ancient pyramids but light years away from the spirits of the dead Cairo is erecting a whole new edifice.
In an effort to be known as more than a tourist mecca for those hundreds of thousands who come annually to Egypt to see the pyramids, The Mall of Egypt offers locals and tourists a different experience. Besides nearly two million square meters of retail space, like new malls on the Arabian Peninsula and in North America, The Mall of Egypt—due to be completed in 2015—has something for everyone.
The newest shopping center on the Gulf has been erected with the aim of attracting more than shoppers. Their goal is to lure people to spend their leisure time in the huge food courts. Besides eating and drinking developers are confident people will come to use the cinemas, the ski slopes and children’s entertainment facilities.
Mall developers are well aware that the economy of the area works against them. Political turmoil has devastated the economy. Other malls in Cairo are experiencing retail vacancy rates of 25% with newly opened malls facing even higher rates.
What’s going to make nearly seven-million-dollar Mall of Egypt fare better in an economy where locals traditionally shop in local markets? Add to political and culture difficulties the fact that a quarter of the Egyptian population is living below the poverty line on $1.25 a day. Nevertheless, mall developers estimate 20% of Cairo’s three million people will go to the new concept mall.
Much of the financing is foreign. Many new ventures are being financed by billions of dollars from privately-held property developers. The Mall of Egypt has lots to offer whether you are a shopper or seeking dining or entertainment opportunities. An awesome snow complex beside the mall.
Managing director of the project, Mohamed El-Mikawi comments, “The mall is not just a place to shop. It has multiple uses.” Retailers eager to get involved in the Egyptian retail market include Marks & Spenser. Mark Koprowski, regional director of Marks& Spenser’s Middle East branch commented that despite high customs duties on goods and the poor economic status of Egypt which has weakened the value of the Egyptian, he is confident that “customer spending has always been there."
With half the stores unoccupied in Cairo’s newly opened Cairo Festival Mall, time will tell whether investors will see a good return on their investment in The Mall of Egypt.