In spite of the political unrest in the country, Egypt’s interior design market is showing signs of picking up with projects being announced in the region. UAE-based Majid Al Futtaim Holding plans to launch an entertainment complex where it will build an indoor ski-slope in Cairo’s Mall of Egypt.
“In Egypt we are developing a ski slope, but much smaller than the one in Dubai. The market over there doesn’t require a full-fledged indoor snow operation like the one in UAE,” said Arnaud Palu, CEO, MAF Leisure and Entertainment.
In addition, Hilton Hotels & Resorts has opened its first resort in Egypt’s Marsa Alam region, the company’s 17th property in the country. Hilton Marsa Alam Nubian Resort, a 370-room resort overlooking the Red Sea, is part of a mixed-use development, including an entertainment village, congress centre and residential town.
With the Egyptian Tourism Authority (ETA) announcing plans to spend at least US$5 million on a major marketing campaign in the Gulf to bring Arab tourists back to Egypt, associated industries such as hospitality, interior design and architecture have renewed hope of things picking up in the area.
Yasmin Medhat, interior designer, Jotun – Egypt, said the interior design market was booming before the revolution, but even afterward, it is seeing a steady trickle of business.
“For the past three years, it has been a booming time for us, in both residential and commercial spaces, especially with our customers learning more about the importance of colours in their spaces. People are trying to be up-to-date on the latest trends and after the revolution, they want to cheer themselves up by using bright colours to bring some happiness into their lives,” said Medhat.
Ahmed Refai, general manager, Archimedia-Egypt, doesn’t agree and said while Egypt wasn’t hit that hard from the 2008 global recession, its real estate industry was affected after the revolution this year due to several factors, including ongoing trials, low customer confidence, projects being on hold, and worries about a Dubai-esque real estate bubble.
Refai added the interior design industry was kicking off before the revolution, but said designer malls are the next big thing for the interior design sector in Egypt.
“They offer a single destination that will cover all requirements from marble selection, to furniture, automation, accessories and more. One of the first ones that opened is Designopolis. Now other areas are starting the same concept; City Stars is opening a complete floor for designers and various suppliers.
Mall of Arabia is doing the same and Cairo Festival City (CFC) probably will too; CFC is going to bring IKEA for the very first time to Egypt in 2012,” said Refai.
Medhat said the weather and harsh sun is a problem for interior designers and Jotun is introducing new services to improve people’s perceptions of paint, with the hopes of the market increasing its consumption of bold colours. She said the most common colour in the Egyptian market is beige.
“Beige is a warm colour and gives the feeling of more space, and with exterior paints, dark colours are not used very much because of the sun and temperature.”
Refai said one of the biggest challenges in the Egyptian interior design industry is finding a suitable price point that satisfies the clients without reducing the quality of the products and service.
“Designers were always focused with selling to the upper class and with large scale projects that take years to complete; the challenge now would be to target the mid-market segment and have a higher turnover on projects,” he added.
Archimedia has been in the Egyptian market for four years, and Refai added the real estate development was tremendous, where tens of thousands of units have been built with more to come.
“Most interior designers we speak to have said a lot of their large scale projects are on hold until further notice. People are waiting to see what happens after the new parliamentary and presidential elections,” added Refai.