x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

$40bn housing deal benefits Egypt and UAE

A construction deal will help ordinary Egyptians and help rebuild their nation.

The announcement of a $40 billion (Dh150bn) deal to build low-cost housing in Egypt is good news for that country and for the UAE. Dubai developer Arabtec will build a million homes for Egyptians under the contract, which was announced on Sunday by Egypt’s defence minister, Field Marshal Abdel Fattah El Sisi, who is widely expected to be a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections.

The deal, which is likely to be among the largest of its kind in the world, will go a long way towards relieving Egypt’s severe housing crisis and help to kick-start its ailing economy. It is estimated that as many as a million jobs will be created – for builders, plumbers, electricians, tilers, painters, gardeners and general labourers, as well as for building suppliers and people in other associated industries. Once completed, the housing estates will become communities that need shops, schools and transport networks, which will increase employment opportunities and boost the economy further.

The project will also have a direct benefit for the many young Egyptians who have been unable to marry and move out of their parents’ homes because of a lack of low-cost accommodation. Making houses afford­able will allow­ young couples to marry and plan for their future with a sense of security, while their modest mortgages will boost the banking sector.

The project is also a boost for Arabtec, which is best known as the construction company behind such megaprojects as the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which is now under construction. Arabtec will be exporting UAE expertise and personnel to Egypt, and it will reap the rewards in terms of income and experience gained from the enterprise. This will have flow-on benefits for the UAE economy.

Moreover, the project demonstrates the historic ties between the two nations that have strengthened since the toppling of the unpopular Muslim Brotherhood-aligned president Mohammed Morsi last year. The UAE has pledged significant sums of money to help rebuild Egypt and support it on its path to truly representative government.

This construction deal is an instance of practical assistance that will help ordinary Egyptians rebuild their own lives while their nation goes about the business of recovering from years of political and social turmoil. The UAE can be proud of its role in that transition.