MAF’s huge expansion in Egypt to include Africa’s first indoor ski slope

SHARM EL SHEIKH // Majid Al Futtaim is set to to embark on a massive mall building spree in Egypt as it prepares to open Africa’s first indoor ski slope.

It aims to have opened 55 supermarkets and hypermarkets across the country by 2019 as part of an 18 billion Egyptian pound (Dh8.67bn) spending plan. At present it has from its existing 11 properties in the country.

“Egypt is our second market and will see one of our largest expansions,” said MAF’s chief executive, Alain Bejjani, on the sidelines of the Egypt The Future investment conference in Sharm El Sheikh.

MAF has been both a driver and beneficiary of Dubai’s retail boom and is now developing its overseas assets while expanding its real estate, health care and finance units.

The UAE retail sector grew at 7.5 per cent last year, almost twice the rate of the wider region, to be worth an estimated $33bn. The group’s revenues rose 11 per cent last year to Dh25bn.

The company’s big push into Egypt is part of a wider expansion that has been spurred by the acquisition of the rights to develop Carrefour outlets in 38 markets as far apart as Russia and South Africa.

Now the Egyptian government has endorsed MAF’s five-year plan to expand across the country, adding another 300,000 square metres of retail space.

That will include the development of three malls and the expansion of its City Centre Malls in Alexandria and Maadi.

The Dubai retail conglomerate already has a major presence in the country, employing about 3,500 people.

Its flagship Mall of Egypt development, which will include Africa’s first ski slope – similar to its existing Ski Dubai located in the city’s Mall of the Emirates – is expected to complete early next year.

The mall will be built across more than 455,000 square metres and house 420 retailers.

Mr Bejjani was appointed to lead the group last month following the departure of Iyad Malas after six years.

MAF’s push into Egypt and other markets in Africa will be a big part of its plan to double its business in the next five years.

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