by Mohammad Halabi
DG Jones And Partners - Egypt
In September 2020, DGJ completed its twentieth year in Egypt.
Legend has it that our first interaction with the Egyptian market dates back to the 1980s when we were involved in the Sheraton Gezira Hotel. The current set up however was established by Michel Salem on the 19th of September 2000.
Michel led the operation with a couple of hospitality projects: Hilton Dreamland and Four Seasons First Residence. At the time we were seconded to contractors, performing commercial management and contract administration duties. We were then involved in what - at the time - was the largest development of its kind in Egypt: City Stars. With the largest mall in Africa, and several commercial, residential, and office buildings, our involvement was through CCC. We were also involved in providing on-site QS services for British Gas on the Egyptian Liquefied Natural Gas project in Idku, near Alexandria.
By 2004, following the lamented departure of Michel, and with the support of George Younis, I stepped in to run the operation. The next couple of years were an uphill struggle in a difficult market. But by 2006, and in the midst of the July 2006 war in Lebanon, the breakthrough began with Al-Futtaim engaging our services for their Cairo Festival City project. Many other major projects followed and by 2007 we reached a peak staff number of 35. We were handling almost every major project in Cairo, and dealing with major developers who had flocked into a booming market at the time. We were providing services to Clients such as MAF, Emaar, Qatari Diar, and Sorouh to name but a few. We have also collaborated with major consultants such as Callison, WATG, MGA, ECG, DAR, RTKL, and Turner amongst others. We were involved in several very exciting projects such as the City of Stars resort in Sharm El Sheikh, Atum Cove resort on the Red Sea, and BARWA project, which - at 8.8 million square meters - was the largest project we ever handled!
By the end of 2010, however, and particularly following the Egyptian uprising, the workload almost came to a halt. Despite the instability in the region, the Board of DGJ insisted on maintaining our presence in Cairo to show commitment both to the local staff and to Clients. For the next two years, we kept a skeleton presence waiting for the next breakthrough.
That second breakthrough came by the end of 2013, with the re-commencement of the Emaar Square, and the Nile Corniche (St. Regis Cairo) projects. The latter provided the backbone for the office with 9 members of staff mobilized on site. That was strengthened by our appointment on Qatari Diar’s City Gate project (BARWA project), with a team that was expected to reach 17 staff members on site.
On the 31st of October 2020, I also personally completed my 20 years in Egypt. From a pat on the back by Joe Psaroulla telling me to go to Egypt for a couple of months to help Michel, to where I am today. The longest two months on record!
With all its ups and downs, I can’t say that it wasn’t fruitful, full of lessons, and full of struggles. Here’s wishing that the coming years will be as successful.