OD chairman Samih Sawiris sees potential in Oman (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's Orascom Development Holding sees potential in Oman's affordable housing sector, the company's chairman Samih Sawiris told delegates at The Owners Forum Middle East 2011 held in the Sultanate's capital Muscat this week.
Orascom Development, known for developing high-end tourism resorts, opened its first hotel in Oman in mid-September.
The Swiss-listed firm is already near completing its first affordable housing project in Egypt: Haram City, which spans 8.5 million square metres and houses more than 5,000 mid-income families.
Cairo-based investment bank Beltone Financial said Sawiris' comments reflect a shift in the thinking of the region's property players.
"Lately we have seen real estate developers tapping the huge potential of affordable housing market in the MENA region, where there is a clear mismatch between demand and supply," a note from Beltone said.
According to a study conducted by property consultants Jone Lang LaSalle, there is a shortage of 3.5 million affordable housing units in the Middle East and North Africa region.
In the wake of January's revolution, real estate analysts suggested Egyptian developers are likely to consolidate their land banks and refocus on low-end housing as demand for luxury second-homes wanes.
Orascom Development's chairman earlier this week denied rumours that he and his brother, telecoms tycoon Naguib Sawiris, had fled Egypt.
In August, Samih Sawiris was sentenced to two years in prison for manipulating OD's stock price and providing incorrect financial data to the stock exchange. The firm paid a US$3.4m fine to scrap the prison sentence.