Hill, Egyptian Developer Forge JV

Construction management company Hill International and the Talaat Moustafa Group Holding Co. (TMG), one of Egypt’s leading residential and hotel developers, have agreed to form a joint venture “that will provide project and construction management services exclusively on TMG projects throughout Egypt and elsewhere in the world,” according to a prepared statement.  Engineering News-Record magazine recently ranked Hill as the 10th-largest construction management firm in the United States.  Each partner will own 50 percent of the Cairo-based JV, which is expected to immediately begin managing the construction of several of TMG’s largest developments. These projects include the Four Seasons Hotel Luxor, a major expansion to the Four Seasons Resort in Sharm El Sheikh on the Red Sea and a 5,000-unit housing development in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  TMG’s current projects also include the Mega Mall and the Four Seasons Hotel in Madinaty, part of the El Rehab master-planned community, on the northeast side of New Cairo and about 30 minutes east of Downtown Cairo. Being developed in 10 phases, El Rehab covers nearly 2,500 acres. Now gradually breaking ground after the completion of the design phase, the Mega Mall is Eqypt’s largest shopping mall, with a waterpark, adjacent housing and eventually one or two hotels.  In an exclusive interview with CPN, Raouf Ghali (pictured), Athens-based president of Hill’s Project Management Group (International), said that one of the key elements to successfully completing real estate projects in the Middle East is “the packaging strategy,” making sure there is enough time to bring together the human and physical resources to complete a project to specification. Among other things, this involves supervising contractors closely enough to work around shortages of steel and cement.  Ghali singled out high-end finishes (such as flooring and decorative finishes) for upscale projects as a particular area of concern, as skilled workers can be hard to get and training can be an issue. “We make them do samples” of high-end work, he explained, sometimes several mock-ups of the work in question. Once five or six crews are performing up to standard, however, Ghali noted, the construction manager/consultant will work closely with the contractors to try to keep those crews together and active on future jobs, solidifying and expanding their skills.  What a company like Hill brings to the Middle East, Ghali said, includes tested policies and procedures for managing complex projects, “well-balanced contracts” that are fair to both developer/owner and contractor, and help with expanding outside the Middle East, since Hill has 70 offices worldwide.  “The opportunities are massive” for the JV, Ghali said, especially with North Africa booming and expected to continue to do so for another 10 years.  “We’re wary of the challenges,” he concluded, “but we’re not afraid of them.”