Algeria an oasis for investors.
Riding a wave of Gulf Arab investor confidence in North Africa, Emirates International Investment Co plans to build a $US 5 billion park to give crowded Algiers a ''green belt'' where stressed residents can unwind.Riding a wave of Gulf Arab investor confidence in North Africa, Emirates International Investment Co plans to build a $US 5 billion park to give crowded Algiers a ”green belt” where stressed residents can unwind.
”There are a lot of incentives, tax breaks, but also a political eagerness to see us start something,” said Mr Turki, director general of EIIC unit Societe des Parcs d’Alger, which is developing the park on the Mediterranean city’s south side.
The venture is the latest example of a Gulf Arab investor rush to North Africa , where Arabs are challenging traditional European business dominance by capturing a growing share of the telecom, tourism and banking markets.
North African businessmen say Western suspicion of Arabs in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US pushed Arab countries to find new destinations for the reserves built up from oil prices.
Mr Turki, a Tunisian, said Arabs as investors and tourists were increasingly curious about the variety of Arab cultures.
”People from Algeria , Tunisia and Morocco are also traveling much more in the Gulf and Middle East as tourists. This is very new.
”For example, Arabs from Morocco are very different from the other parts of the Arab world. So now we’ve opened a big market, and we’re all here to discover our neighbours. It’s not the only reason (for Arab business success), but it’s something.”
The major Arab investor in Algeria is Egypt ‘s Orascom Telecom and Orascom Construction Industries, with almost $US10 billion invested in telecom, cement and water desalination. Qatar Telecommunications is also present in the mobile sector.
UAE’s Emaar company is planning to invest $US20 billion in development projects in and around Algiers .
Local businesspeople in Algeria , an OPEC member slowly emerging from years of political violence, say the country is in dire need of greater investment and exposure to international best practices in services.
Crowded, rundown Algiers is a prime example. The city’s up to four million population, has few public parks and those that exist are overcrowded at weekends.
With help from US-based consultancy McKinsey on strategy, and US engineering company Parsons on master planning, EIIC plans to designate 75% of Dounya Parc’s surface area as rolling grassland and botanical gardens for recreational use.
Due to be completed in five years, EIIC will surround the main central park with a commercial and residential district that will include hotels, lakes, a convention centre, golf course and hospitals and provide about 25,000 jobs.
”Seventy five percent of the park is going to be a huge investment with no return,” Mr Turki said. ”We have it for five years to make it happen, and then it’s given back to the state to operate.”
”So we are going to make the money on the buildings – the hotels, the towers, the offices,” he said, adding that he hoped the park would encourage Algerians to holiday at home. Normally, Algerians able to afford a holiday go to Tunisia and Morocco .
EIIC also has other projects in Algeria, including a $US200 million luxury hotel development near Algiers, a dairy farm complex in the south and an electrical cable manufacturing company.