x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Bukhatir develops Tunisian sports city

Sports City International is taking its sports city concept to Tunisia with a Dh18.4 billion development.

Sports City International, a company owned by Sharjah's Bukhatir Group, is taking its concept to Tunisia with the development of the US$5 billion (Dh18.36bn) Tunis Sports City. As Dubai Sports City, which is also being developed by Bukhatir Group, nears completion the company is also reviewing plans for a similar project in Lahore, Pakistan. A number of UAE developers are looking at opportunities in Tunisia and other North African markets to offset the slowdown at home and to cater for property demand in those countries. Sales of homes in the residential part of Tunis Sports City have begun, with most of the interest coming from local buyers, according to Paul Crosetta, the chief executive of Sports City International. The company will also focus on buyers in Algeria, Libya and Europe as part of its international sales drive. The whole Tunisian project will be built in phases over 15 years. "Tunisia has been relatively cocooned from the financial crisis and has a stable economy," said Mr Crosetta. "This is the first development of its kind in Tunisia and we're seeing demand from Tunisians wanting to book apartments." Mr Crosetta said five banks were on board to provide home financing for the project. "It's been a difficult process but we've managed to partner with banks to provide finance." While homes will be sold off-plan, most of the construction will be financed from money raised by the Bukhatir Group. The price of homes, which will be a mix of villas and apartments, will start at Dh599 a square foot. As with the Dubai concept, Tunis Sports City will include sports academies, a golf course, hotels and an urban centre surrounded by a man-made waterway. Meanwhile, the plans for a sports city in Lahore are still being considered. "There has been an impact on the timeframe because of the instability in Pakistan," said Mr Crosetta. "But we're assessing the concept and haven't written it off just yet." agiuffrida@thenational.ae