Egypt billionaire makes foray in Pak real estate with $2b ‘Islamabad 18’ project

PKONWEB/BE2C2 Report– Orascom, a major player in Pakistan’s telecom industry, has announced venturing into Pakistan’s highly lucrative real estate market in partnership with Saifullah’s Saif Group and Kohistan Builders & Developers. The Ora Developer’s big  splash in the country’s cash-rich and ever-growing real estate market is their flagship project– a $2 billion high-end gated community project called Islamabad 18.

Some 2200 mixed-use residential units, each overlooking a 18-hole golf course on  660-acre, is located in the country’s capital, which over the years has seen property value exceed the highest compared with the country’s average and has witnessed growth in its urban population the most.

Spread across 2.6 million square yards, the project entails 1,068 villas of different sizes and over 900 apartments – along with commercial properties, amenities including cricket and sports ground, and self-sustained utilities– even Fire Engines, and full-spectrum facilities management, said Uzair Adil, Senior Director Marketing of Islamabad 18 at Zameen.com Expo in Karachi held this weekend.

The gated community is meant to serve the capital’s upper-middle income groups and overseas Pakistanis, Adil added highlighting that a huge number of Pakistani expats have booked units. The developer is also offering them and to local buyers property management– rental and buy & sell management services.

The team at the expo said home buyers will also be facilitated with mortgage loans through participating and up to 90 percent to qualified buyers may be possible subject to banking and other conditions.

The Mortgage sub-sector, has until recently remained on the fringe– an underutilized and under-resourced facility in Pakistan, however, with mushroom growth in the sector, the onset of microfinancing and institutional efforts, it is said to be picking up.

The project offers 48-month delivery cycle with 36 month move-in-own-and-pay-off feature. The smallest unit of 255sqm is priced in the range of PKR30m with the biggest units of 4 kanal and 8 kanal priced in the range of PKR200m plus– these big units are mostly sold out, and Pakistani expats have booked almost 70 percent of all the units already booked, said Aqeel Shiqri, Director Public Relations.

The project also brings Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris back to Pakistan after Orascom Telecom, in which he has a majority stake and is also the chairman, had acquired Mobilink before the company sold its stake to VimpelCom, wrote local daily The Express Tribune.

According to an estimate, there is a shortage of 10 million housing units in Pakistan, a deficit that continues to grow in urban areas specially in the country’s 3 mega cities. With population growth, the shortage will keep piling– Pakistan’s envoy in UAE says, the country’s real estate market is worth $700 billion.

The venture also aims to expand to Karachi– capital of Sindh province and Pakistan’s financial capital, as well as Lahore– Punjab province’s capital, subject to land availability in these provincial capitals.

“Land availability is the biggest issue facing the real estate sector in the country. Until the issue is resolved, challenges will remain,” said Sawiris, as he addressed a gathering of journalists in the Pakistani capital in December.

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