Fayoum — Ritzy Cairo neighborhoods like Zamalek, Mohandessin, and New Cairo are the obvious candidates for dramatic increases in land prices. The village of Tatoun in Fayoum Governorate is not. Yet real-estate prices in Tatoun are keeping apace of the swelling market in Egypt’s fanciest neighborhoods.
Fayoum is one of the poorest governorates in Egypt and one of the most frequently deserted by its citizens. Incidentally, the latter point is the explanation for Tatoun’s Italian-style villas. More than 13,000 of the village’s youth are now living and working in Italy, according to Sharaf Hassan, a Tatoun resident.
These expatriated Tatounis’ fortunes in Italy and affect the economy back home. Hassan said their success abroad has had both negative and positive impacts. One meter of land now costs LE12,000, while a karat of farmland makes LE1 million. However, prices in neighboring villages have seen a severe drop, with a meter of land not exceeding LE1000 and the best acre of farmland topping out at LE300,000. Another Tatoun resident said that some land is being bought in Euros.
The resident added that purchasing land and properties became the only form of investment for the expatriates, causing the rise in prices.
Gamal Omar, who has worked in Italy for more than 11 years, says that he and his fellows there depend on real-estate as the most secure investment back home. Omar admitted that the purchase of land in Fayoum by those working in Europe has driven up prices, particularly in commercial areas.
High land costs have had an effect on apartment prices, making an ordinary citizen’s attempt to get an apartment in the town of el-Fayoum almost impossible. Prices for an apartment range between LE350,000 and LE700,000.
Farid Ramadan Abdel Gawad, another Fayoum citizen, says some people form groups in order to buy complete apartment buildings, as well as land around the city. That drove up the price of one karat of land to about LE1 million, he points out.
Despite soaring prices, Orascom Cooperative Housing chose the Fayoum town of Itsa for its next building project, with plans to build 20,000 housing units for low-income citizens on 500 acres within the next three years. The company recently completed a similar development in 6 October City. The plan is a part of the National Housing Project, and it will follow the style of el-Gouna City in Red Sea Governorate.
The Ministry of Housing’s undersecretary in Fayoum, Ahmed Abdullah, says the company will establish 5000 housing units in the first stage, which will take place on 100 acres in Manshaat Abdel Maguid. The development is part of the National Housing Project and follows a contract between Orascom board manager Sameeh Sawaris and former governor of Fayoum Magdy Qubeisy.
Abdullah says work on the first stage started on 1 May, 2008, establishing 5000 units with different designs. Abdullah adds that shops and an event hall will be handed over to the low-income citizens as soon as they are finished. He asserts that the company has finished a big part of the project in Manshaat Abdel Meguid and expects to receive the rest of the land assigned for contribution at the National Housing Project.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.