Unlocking the North Coast

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 27 Feb 2024

The Ras Al-Hekma development deal will transform Egypt’s North Coast into a world-class residential and tourist hub

North Coast

 

In a press conference held at the New Administrative Capital, Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli said the development project of Ras Al-Hekma on the North Coast is the biggest foreign direct investment deal in Egypt’s history. “It comes within the framework of Egypt’s 2052 Urban Development Plan which includes developing the cities of Alamein, Ras Al-Hekma, Negila, Sidi Barrani, Jarjoub, Matrouh, and Salloum to accommodate millions of people and provide job opportunities for Egyptian youth,” said Madbouli.

“The Abu Dhabi Development Holding Company [ADQ] will set up Ras Al-Hekma company as a joint stock company in which Egypt will be a partner,” said Madbouli. “The project will include residential districts, world-class hotels and tourist resorts, entertainment parks, cutting-edge road infrastructure and service facilities such as hospitals, schools, and universities.”

It will also include administrative and service buildings, a free economic zone for information technology industries and logistics hubs, a central business district and a large marina for tourist yachts and ships.

“We expect the new city to attract eight million tourists to Egypt, and there will be a dedicated international airport for tourists.”

“The UAE side will invest nearly $150 billion throughout all phases of the project, with $35 billion pumped into the national economy within the next two months, the largest sum in foreign direct investments [FDIs] in Egypt’s history,” said Madbouli.

ADQ will make a $15 billion payment within a week, $10 billion of which will be in fresh inflows and $5 billion to be withdrawn from UAE deposits at the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE). The remaining $20 billion is due within two months — $14 billion in fresh funds and $6 billion from existing deposits.

Ras Al-Hekma lies 212 km west of Alexandria and 350 km northwest of Cairo. It boasts turquoise waters and white sandy beaches.

Walid Abbas, deputy chairman of the New Urban Communities Authority for planning and projects, said in a TV interview on 24 February that Ras Al-Hekma city will extend for more than 50 km along the Mediterranean Sea from Dabaa to Matrouh and is planned to be a year-round residential, tourism and business hub.

“This is part of the government’s long-term plan for developing Egypt’s Northern Coast,” said Abbas. “The Ras Al-Hekma project is expected to attract investment worth $150 billion in the first phase of building.”

Total investments in Ras Al-Hekma are likely to exceed $500 billion over 15 years, according to Abbas. Phase one will take about five years to complete and create eight million jobs.

Madbouli explained that the government has invested billions of pounds in infrastructure projects on the North Coast over the past few years in a bid to attract foreign investments.

“We are building a 10-lane North Coast highway and a high-speed electric train which will link the cities of Ain Sokhna, Alexandria, New Alamein and Matrouh across 660 km,” said Madbouli.

The government is also building the Dabaa Nuclear power plant, due to be complete by 2028, to generate clean energy and serve the power needs of development projects across Egypt.

“Ras Al-Hekma is the first in a number of projects that will be up for investment in the coming stage,” said Abbas. He added that other sites along Egypt’s Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts were being considered for similar development.

“We are planning to strike Ras Al-Hekma-like deals to develop other North Coast cities like Alamein, New Salloum, Sidi Barrani, New Nagila and Dabaa.”

Mohamed Hassan Al-Suwaidi, managing director and chief executive officer of ADQ, told Emirates News Agency (WAM) that the company is committed to developing Ras Al-Hekma into one of Egypt’s most attractive coastal destinations by enabling mega-infrastructure and development projects and working with partners such as Modon Properties and Talaat Mostafa Group which will deliver value across multiple sectors of Egypt’s vibrant economy.”

“ADQ is a long-standing investment partner in Egypt, and we have demonstrated our ability to select opportunities that are aligned with our investment framework and benefit the Egyptian economy.”

Ahmed Abdel-Sallah Qoura, a member of parliament’s Housing Committee, told Al-Ahram Weekly that Egypt’s Urban Development Plan prioritises comprehensive urban development of the northwest coastal area to accommodate Egypt’s growing population through partnerships with international investors.

“Egypt’s North Coast has all the potentials necessary to make it a favourable and attractive destination for investors, particularly from the UAE and other Arab Gulf countries,” said Qoura. “It has a unique geographical location, beautiful natural scenery, modern infrastructure, and skilled labour.”

Qoura noted that the Ras Al-Hekma project marks the latest in a series of giant urban projects across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region which includes the giant Saudi megacity Neom on the Red Sea coast.


* A version of this article appears in print in the 29 February, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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