Repurposing project of Interior Ministry’s former headquarters: More than a facelift

Ahmed Morsy , Wednesday 19 Apr 2023

As part of efforts to rejuvenate central Cairo, the Interior Ministry’s former headquarters is being developed into a mixed-use hub, reports Ahmed Morsy

More than a facelift


Plans are in place to convert the seven-building complex that served as the headquarters of the Ministry of Interior for decades into a multi-purpose destination that includes a tech and business hub, a French university, serviced apartments and a hotel.

Details of the project were revealed last week after an agreement was signed between the real estate arm of the Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) — the SFE Tourism, Real Estate and Antiquities Sub Fund — and the recently formed real-estate development company A Developments. A joint statement by SFE and A Developments said the deal had been awarded following a competitive bidding process launched in April last year. Under the deal, SFE — in its capacity as the property’s owner — will lease the complex to A Developments for 25 years in return for a fixed rental and share of revenues.

A Developments CEO Ahmed Osman told Al-Ahram Weekly that the company will invest LE800 million in renovating the complex.

 “This project will redefine the face of downtown Cairo, turning it into a destination for entrepreneurs, start-ups and young travellers, promoting the development of Egypt’s flourishing start-up scene as well as the tourism and real-estate sector,” said Hala Al-Said, minister of planning and SFE chair.

The redevelopment, said Osman, complements state efforts to revive downtown Cairo. A Developments has hired the UK-based BDP, which specialises in the adaptive reuse of historic buildings, to oversee the project.


French business school IPAG will be an anchor tenant of the new scheme which will be the site of IPAG’s first branch in Egypt. Despite its population density and large number of schools downtown Cairo, notes Osman, currently lacks a university campus.

To provide a mid-price alternative to the five-star and budget hotels in the area, the scheme will also include a three-star hotel and serviced apartments run by an international hotel management company, and retail units targeting students, tourists and downtown residents.

Downtown Cairo was first developed under khedive Ismail, who ruled Egypt between 1863 and 1879, as an elite residential quarter.

During the signing ceremony, SFE CEO Ayman Suleiman said that the redevelopment, together with the Tahrir repurposing project, is part of the SFE’s strategy to preserve Cairo’s history by generating sustainable financial returns in partnership with the private sector.

In December 2021, Egypt signed a deal worth more than LE3.5 billion with a US consortium to upgrade the 14-storey Mugamma Al-Tahrir, also owned by the SFE. In August 2022, the consortium  — led by Oxford Capital Group, Global Ventures Group and Al-Otaiba Investments — announced it would invest $200 million to transform the Mugamma into a luxury hotel.

In 2020, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi issued a decree cancelling the public benefit status of a number of public properties, including former downtown ministry headquarters, moving their ownership to the SFE, which was established in 2018.

According to Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli, Cairo is home to 537 historic buildings registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List. “Cairo is rich in treasures and historical areas, and we are targeting a return of tourism to these sites,” said Madbouli.

The redevelopment of the former headquarters of the Interior Ministry will be conducted in three phases, each of which will take a year, says Osman. The first phase, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023, includes the university, business incubator and the commercial services area. The second includes the three-star hotel and serviced apartments and the third office space for start-ups and other businesses.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 13 April, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

Short link: