Location: Km 129, Alex. Matrouh Desert Rd., Sidi Abdel Rahman - North Coast.
With a multi-branched marina stretching along both Sidi Abdel Rahman Bay and the Mediterranean Sea, the name Marassi - Arabic for docks - is indeed befitting of Emaar Egypt's newly launched residential venture on the North Coast.
Spread over seven km of open beachfront with the total area of 6,25 million sq. meters (1.5 feddans), Marassi is set to be an upscale community resort with villas, chalets, townhouses, service apartments, around seven hotels as well as a golf course, water canals, shopping and bazaar venues, restaurants, healthcare facilities, and the yachting marina.
The $1.74 billion project is still in its initial phases. Emaar Egypt is currently finalizing license and registration processes and will begin to map out each phase of the resort sometime next month.
"The project comprises of three-four phases projected to be completed within five and a half years, Sameh Muhtadi, chief executive officer of Emaar Egypt, told Daily News Egypt. "Construction will begin in 2008, with the first phase due in mid 2011.
Meanwhile, Emaar Egypt inaugurated a sales center to open up Marassi for potential buyers, enabling them to spend an entire day on the beach to experience facets of the resort. On average, 600 people visit the center each day.
Around 1,100 units have been reserved so far, in addition to a pipeline of 2,500 prospective buyers, even though price schemes are yet to be established.
Apartments and villas come in different sizes - starting from 75 sq. meters to over 200 sq. meters - to appeal to a wide variety of customers. Moreover, homes come in seven architectural styles: Egyptian, Greek, Andalusian, Italian, Spanish, Tunisian and Moroccan.
"Marassi is moving beyond the conventional parameters of North Coast resort developments, boasted Muhtadi. "Marassi is going to be a year-round residential and tourism community that will act as an international hub open to Egyptians, Arabs, and foreigners alike.
Unlike other resorts on the North Coast, Marassi will receive residents and tourists all year except during the three-four months of sandstorms.
"Marassi will redefine the leisure and commercial landscape of Sidi Abdel Rahman through its diverse mix of amenities including the golf course, desert safari, sports center, and retail venues, he added. "We also plan to offer health tourism facilities such as health farms with rehabilitation and detox centers.
The resort will capitalize on Egypt's booming business tourism by offering business centers as well as conference and meeting facilities.
Situated close to Burj El-Arab and El-Alamein airports - both offering direct flights to major European cities - Marassi is expected to host plenty of tourists who can have access to nearby historic sites, which will in turn enhance North Coast tourism.
Emaar is the single largest foreign direct investor in Egypt's real estate sector, with investments amounting to around $5.54 billion in four mega-projects: the Marassi Resort, Uptown Cairo in Mokattam, a residential community project in New Cairo City, and Cairo Gate - a residential-commercial project located on the Cairo-Alexandria Desert Road.
"Egypt is the region's leading market. It has potential for any investor seeking an attractive market to operate in, Muhtadi explained. "Its open market, [political] stability, and strong tourism offer a great opportunity for [business ventures].
With the current boom in Egypt's property market, some voices point out that the real-estate sector suffers from a bubble effect that will soon burst adversely affecting the entire sector.
"It's a fact of life, said Muhtadi. "The sector [fluctuates] over time.
The property market, he explained, usually reaches top of the curve then begins to decline, but picks up again as the population grows.
Muhtadi remains optimistic. "The overwhelming investor response to [our projects] signals the robust nature and growth potential offered by the Egyptian property market, he stated earlier.
Indeed, Emaar Egypt is quickly making its mark on the sector attracting ample buyers and investors. The company announced that it has successfully finished selling phases one and two of its Uptown Cairo project and will soon begin selling phase three.