ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is set to see a new real estate venture - this time in the federal capital - as demand for housing keeps motivating projects across different parts of the country.
The $2-billion project, named Eighteen Islamabad based on its location, was formally launched in Islamabad on Friday and is a partnership between Egypt-based Ora Developers and Saif Group, the Pakistani conglomerate with business interests largely in textile, energy and real estate sectors. Additionally, Kohistan Builders and Developers is also partaking in the project.
Spread across 2.77 million square yards that will also feature a 18-hole golf course, the project will look to sell over 2,000 residential units - 1,068 villas of different sizes and over 900 apartments - along with commercial properties, meant to serve the upper-middle income groups.
The project also brings Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris back to Pakistan after Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding, in which he has a majority stake and is also the chairman, had acquired Mobilink before the company sold its stake to VimpelCom.
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Sawiris, however, is now on a different mission to Pakistan.
"I was here around 20 years ago when we started Mobilink," said Sawiris, the chairman of Ora Developers, as he addressed a gathering of journalists at Serena Hotel.
"We wanted to continue our business in Pakistan and as we ventured out of telecom we thought of real estate development because I was horrified at the prices people were paying for villas and apartments in Islamabad," he continued, referring to the phenomenally high prices of real estate in Pakistan that have continued to shoot in the last few years.
According to a World Bank estimate, there is a shortage of 10 million housing units in Pakistan, a deficit that continues to grow in urban areas. With population growth at 2%, the shortage will keep piling.
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Sawiris said his aim would be to expand to other cities including Karachi and Lahore, but the challenge would be to find land in the provincial capitals.
"Land availability is the biggest issue facing the real estate sector in the country. Until the issue is resolved, challenges will remain."
The $2-billion project features a 30% component of equity, to be injected by the investors, along with a 30% stake to be financed with major banks in Pakistan. Talks of these modalities are ongoing, said Eighteen Islamabad Chief Executive Officer Tarek Hamdy.
He also said no-objection certificates have been obtained from the Capital Development Authority in Islamabad and transfer deeds will be given to buyers since Eighteen Islamabad owns the land already.