The Egyptian unit of Qatar’s Barwa Real Estate BRES.QA will begin building a $9 billion Cairo project in the first quarter of 2010 to tap strong demand for residential property in the north African country.

Real estate and construction firms in the Gulf Arab region, especially in the United Arab Emirates, are increasingly looking at opportunities in the most populous Arab country, to help weather a downturn in their home markets.

“Work will start in the first quarter of 2010, and the project will be finished in 10 to 12 years,” Tarek Bahaa, head of sales and marketing for Barwa New Cairo told Reuters from Cairo on Tuesday.

The firm is studying all options for financing the investment, including Islamic bonds and loans, he added.

The mixed-use project is spread over more than 2000 feddans (8.4 square kilometres) near Egypt’s capital, Barwa, an affiliate of the state-owned Qatar Investment Authority’s $40 billion property wing Qatari Diar, said in a statement on Qatar’s bourse website.

“This … investment assures that Egypt is still a destination for international investors despite the global financial recession,” the developer said, adding it originally paid $2 billion for the land.

Investors are ploughing ahead with large residential projects in and around Cairo and see continuing demand as the country’s population, which stands at about 80 million people, continues to grow.

“Egypt is a real economy and the population is much bigger,” said Saud Masud, property and construction analyst for the Middle East and North Africa at UBS investment bank.

“It did not over-extend itself in terms of upturn like the UAE.”

While about eight of every 10 people in the United Arab Emirates are foreign residents, Egypt’s booming population is mainly native.


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