The Arab Spring, which shook the Middle East in 2011, is history now. It’s 2016, and a lot has changed. Should you sell property in Egypt this year?
First, let us understand how things have changed. 5 years ago, Egypt was in a major turmoil. Those were days of political agitations and mass demonstrations. Not a great time to be in Egypt if you were a foreigner. Tourism had come to a standstill, and nobody really wanted to visit Egypt, forget investing in property there.
What was equally disconcerting was the rise of the Islamic State (or ISIS) during this time in Iraq, and later in Syria and Libya. The Middle East was suddenly a dangerous place to be. There were serious questions on the lack of freedom in the Middle East, as well as human rights violations.
Things did change in Egypt, albeit not by much, since the election of the moderate politician Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as the President of the country in the landmark June 2014 election. Finally, there was at least some form of democracy in Egypt.
The el-Sisi administration has done a lot to ease up business conditions in the country, and to address the serious problem that Egypt has with corruption. A new law was introduced called Law 17/2015 which removes most of the restrictions on foreign ownership of land and property in Egypt.
This law was considered critical for the development of the overseas property market in Egypt. Egypt has everything that wealthy Westerners look for in an overseas property destination – it has a great Mediterranean climate, idyllic natural scenery, friendly local population and a peaceful, laid back lifestyle. True, this wasn’t the case back in 2011, but things have been much better since then.
Sharm el Sheikh, for example, is one of the hottest tourist destinations in the world. It receives over 300,000 Britons annually and has some of the best beaches you will find anywhere, as well as bright sunshine and plenty of water sport opportunities such as scuba diving.
Sharm el Sheikh is situated on the Red Sea. The lifestyle here is peaceful and with such a huge expat community here, Sharm el Sheikh is perhaps the most cosmopolitan tourist hotspots in the Middle East. There are over 100 luxury hotels here that cater to 200,000+ tourists per week.
However, with the ISIS in the vicinity, it’s not completely safe for tourists. The ISIS has claimed responsibility for the downing of a Russian plane that took off at Sharm el Sheikh on October 31, 2015, which killed over 220 Russian tourists.
So there is a clear danger in Egypt, as well as in the rest of the Middle East. The Islamic State seems to be growing in power every day and is able to strike in locations that are far removed from their base in Iraq and Syria, such as in Paris recently, which killed over 130 innocent people.
The Egyptian economy is heavily dependent on tourism for revenue and any terrorist attack on Egyptian soil would only have the effect of driving tourists out of the country. As it is, Egypt struggles with high unemployment and corruption. Any drop in the tourist flow can be disastrous for the country.
If you’re looking to sell property in Egypt, the time to get out is now, because already expectations are that the United States, Russia, France and Briton would be launching punitive military strikes against the ISIS in 2016 – the repercussions of which will be felt throughout the Middle East as the ISIS is likely to lash out in response against innocent tourists, like they did in Sharm el Sheikh last year.