Egyptian billionaire wants to build 100,000 units under Naya Pakistan Housing Programme: report

January 20, 2019

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People stand in long queues outside the DC office in Faisalabad to submit forms for the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme. — File photo
People stand in long queues outside the DC office in Faisalabad to submit forms for the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme. — File photo

An Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has "expressed his will" to invest in 100,000 housing units in Pakistan under the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme (NPHP), Arab News reported on Friday.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Tarek Hamdy, the chief executive officer of Elite Estates ─ a partnership between Ora Developers (owned by Sawiris) and Saif Holdings ─ said, "Naguib Sawiris has expressed his will to invest in 100,000 units of affordable housing to help prime minister (Imran Khan) in his vision toward Pakistan."

"We will use our experience and know-how to deliver this properly to the people of Pakistan," Hamdy added.

On October 10, 2018, Prime Minister Imran Khan launched the NPHP, announcing that 5 million affordable housing units for low-income segments of society would be constructed in five years under the project. Over 40 bidders and construction companies have already applied to provide land and construct housing units under NPHP.

However, Hamdy believes such an expansive project cannot be realise within such a short span of time.

"I think the plan is right but it has to be in stages, has to be in steps. It could be achievable obviously [...] may take few good years, maybe couple of decades to be achieved," he said.

According to Arab News, Ora Developers is already engaged in the construction of a multi-billion-dollar housing scheme named 'Eighteen' which was launched in 2017 in Islamabad along with local partners, Saif Group and Kohistan Builders.

The report added that Sawaris' first investment in Pakistan was in Mobilink.

Hamdy said that the developers wanted to "do more" and "invest more".

According to Arab News, Ora Developers owns a 60 per cent stake in the project in Islamabad which comprises "a five-star hotel, 1,068 housing units, 921 residential apartments, business parks, hospitals, schools and other educational facilities and 13 office buildings, and a golf course".

The net worth of the project is estimated at $2bn, and the developers have set their sights on Lahore, Karachi and Faisalabad as the sites for their next real estate projects.

"I think that our portfolio of real estate could come to $10 billion worth of investments in the next 5-10 years, including all the projects that we intent to do," Hamdy said.

He added that he was confident of delivering on the promise by 2021.

The latest data issued by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) shows that despite the government’s willingness to boost housing projects on a large scale, both the financing for housing and number of borrowers only showed modest growth in July-Sept FY19.

The outstanding housing finance inched up 1.8pc to Rs89.79 billion in the first quarter of 2018-19, from Rs88.18bn in same period last year.

Housing is an acute problem in the country with current estimates suggesting a shortage of 10 million units.

According to a previous study by the SBP on low-cost housing, the annual demand for new homes is approximately increasing by 0.7m a year while only about half that demand is currently being met.