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In conversation with: CEO of Inertia Egypt, Ahmed El Adawy

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Ahmed El Adawy, CEO of Inertia spoke to Cityscape Intelligence about the latest developments transforming Egypt’s north coast and advised on how to succeed as a real estate entrepreneur.

What new developments is Inertia is working on?

We are focusing on our mega development of a beach town in the north coast, Jefaira.

We are always launching new developments, residential and nonresidential. We have medical developments, health hospitality developments, and residential neighborhoods in the pipeline. Currently, we have three new developments, including a residential development over 100,000 square meters and a mixed-use development of serviced apartments, commercial and retail spaces. These projects are now in the permit phase and will be launched in Q1 2022.

What was the motivation behind the beach location?

The north coast is 200 kilometers from Alexandria to Matrouh. For many years we’ve seen boutique projects and larger government nodes such as the Marina, the extension of Alexandria, and Marsa Matrouh carried out in this area.

The boutique developments target specific market segments, and many complain that they have not been successful in attracting international tourism or development to the area. At the end of 2017, we got the opportunity to acquire this land and develop it. Our dream was to have people living here all year round with access to good services, and to create a destination that’s marketable both inside and outside of Egypt. This is what we’ve been working towards for the past few years.

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Do you think the north coast will become attractive for international tourism rather than just domestic tourism?

Yes, definitely! People are put-off by the weather, but the northern side of the Mediterranean actually has very good weather and beach conditions.

What we need is proper infrastructure, proper airports, proper medical services, and proper roads. With the backing of the government and the cities that are being developed like Alamen, and Ras Al Hikmah, I believe that our work is being integrated with the wider government strategy in this area.

You won the Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2019. What were the achievements or the qualities that really singled you out for this award?

Inertia have been in the entrepreneur’s ecosystem in Egypt for 10 to 15 years. In this time, we’ve been asked to do many interviews and lectures, and to help other entrepreneurs, NGO’s and entrepreneur communities. That was part of it.

But this award is very special for me because it was across all sectors and it is very, very rare to find entrepreneurs in the real estate industry.

When we started out in 2008, there were very few entrepreneurs or startups in the industry, and it was very tough to succeed. It’s a very old industry which requires hard to acquire resources, deep pockets, and government buy-in. Reaching 11 years with Inertia in 2019 after starting out with zero resources was something that I was super appreciative of and happy with.

In your opinion, what does it take for new developers to grow and assert their presence in the industry?

Over the past few years, we’ve seen many new players entering the market, especially in the New Administrative Capital. This is because we have a very healthy market, and demand to supply relationship.

The main barrier for entry for developers previously was the availability of land and funding. Over recent years, new cities have been developed and government strategies have been introduced, increasing land use in Egypt from 7% to 14%.

Banks are now supporting developers with project financing and guidance for funding. This was not the case 15 years ago when we started. New developers have the tools, the capability, and the option to gain knowledge and experience from the real estate market, as well as having access to land and funding. I’m hopeful that they will add a lot to the market.

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What qualities do you need to make it as an entrepreneur?

I believe it is important for entrepreneurs to have two main qualities: persistence and flexibility. You have to deal with so many obstacles, you are always under resourced, and you have to be very creative while dealing with your problems or challenges. Especially in emerging markets where things are not always well-organised and stable.

How applicable, do you think technology is for the real estate industry in Egypt?

It's extremely important, especially over the past year with COVID. We need technology to work from home and to communicate with our international consultants and suppliers, and residents who are quarantined in their homes.

Our scope does not end when we deliver the unit as we also manage the communities. Technology is, is now mandatory for the entire lifecycle of the development from the designers to the consultants to the marketers. Over the past year we were even selling on our online platforms. Most companies have now realised what type of technology they need, in which phases of the project, and its importance.

 

Photo credits: https://www.inertiaegypt.com/developments/residential/jefaira/jefaira-the-cribs-neighbourhood/

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