The Egyptian golf development market has regained most of the vigour it possessed before the revolution of 2011, according to two golf industry professionals who are working on a number of projects in the country.
Tim Lobb, principal of global golf architecture practice Thomson Perrett & Lobb, and Tad King of Connecticut-based contractor King Golf International recently returned from a week-long visit to the country, and report that local developers are confident about the future and looking to push forward on their projects as quickly as they can.
TPL's first course in Egypt, El Ein Bay at Ain Sokhna on the Red Sea, which he designed for local developer Galalah Touristic Investments, and which was built by King's firm, recently celebrated the grand opening of its full eighteen holes. Now, the duo are hard at work on a second course, part of the NEWGIZA development, located only 6km from the Giza necropolis, a World Heritage Site that includes the Great Pyramid of Khufu, and the Great Sphinx. And a third project, on behalf of giant Qatari developer Barwa, is also progressing.
“Although the political uncertainty caused by the Egyptian revolution inevitably put development on the back burner for a time, the economic fundaments underpinning golf and real estate projects in the country have always been extremely strong, so I'm not surprised to see developers wanting to move forward,” said Lobb. “What has surprised me is the level of confidence our clients are showing. The message we are getting is that they want to have product they can sell as soon as possible. So we are going full steam ahead.”
“Touring some of the key development sites around Egypt, it's clear that real estate sales are moving forward strongly, and the resorts are very busy,” said King. “Although the political situation remains complex, development companies are clearly taking the view that Egypt is now on solid ground, and open for business.”
TPL's eighteen holes at El Ein Bay are now part of a 27-hole complex known as Sokhna Golf Club, which includes another nine designed by American architect John Sanford. The course, which is aimed at Cairo residents and expats that use the Red Sea resort town as a weekend getaway, has been designed to be playable for the widest number of golfers possible. Already, a visiting German golfer has set a course record of 64!
At NEWGIZA, King's team had started the first tranche of bulk earthworks before the revolution caused the project to be shut down. Now, the contractor is back on site with a large fleet of earthmoving equipment, helping to make TPL's design come alive in the shortest possible time.
“We have been working on this project for eight years in total, so it is terrific to see the course moving ahead at such speed,” said the architect. “Thirty apartment blocks have already been built, and the first village of houses is under construction, so we are under pressure to get the golf course done quickly. We will be grassing the holes by the end of this year, and an opening in 2015 is likely.”
Medhat El Dewary, chief executive of the development team behind both El Ein Bay and NEWGIZA, said: “Confidence is returning quickly to the Egyptian economy, and so we are moving forward strongly with our projects. With its unmatched views over the iconic pyramids, NEWGIZA is a remarkable location, and we're confident it will provide a great experience for golfers and residents alike.”