Crystal Lagoons is an international company, patented to establish crystal lagoons in the world. The company is the only agent that provides this service in Egypt.
The company has contracted with nine big real estate developers in the Egyptian market and is negotiating with another six developers to reach a total of 15 contracts before the next Cityscape conference in September. The company has 300 projects in 60 countries, according to Carlos Salas, regional director for the Middle East at Crystal Lagoons.
Daily News Egypt sat down with Salas to discuss the company’s business in Egypt and the developers in the country.
Who are your clients in Egypt and what is the value of your contracts with them?
We have been operating in Egypt since 2008, and currently have nine projects and clients in Egypt—four of them in the North Coast, three in Ain Sokhna, and two in Sharm El-Sheikh.
Regarding the value of contracts, the total value of the company’s contracts in the MENA region amounts to $20bn, while the value of contracts with Egyptian companies amounts to $5bn.
In the North Coast, our clients are Amer Group, Hassan Allam Properties (HAP), PACT Real Estate in the White Bay project, and Maxim Group in the Bo Islands project, which is the lagoon with the biggest investment in our projects in Egypt. In Sharm El-Sheikh, our clients are ARCO Egypt in the Citystars Sharm El-Sheikh project and Radamis Egypt. In Ain Sokhna, the clients are Tatweer Misr in the Il Monte Galala project and REMCO Group in the second phase of the Stella Di Mare project, which has the biggest lagoon in North Africa at 340,000 sqm. We are also developing a lagoon in a new phase inside Mousa Coast project with Misr Italia Holding Company.
How many projects does the company have around the world?
We have 300 projects in 60 countries.
What are your expansion plans in Egypt?
We are talking with 10 potential developers. By the end of the current year, we should have at least two more projects, in addition to three more projects that may be signed with developers before the Cityscape Egypt conference next year. Soon, we will have 15 projects in Egypt.
We hope to develop lagoons in projects in New Cairo and the New Administrative Capital. We have the ability to develop lagoons in cities like Cairo, which is suffering from water shortage.
We are very interested in Egypt because it is the market with the biggest population in the Middle East and is the country with the most lagoons in the region.
We have very ambitious plans as we want to tap into establishing lagoons in Egypt’s public parks.
Crystal Lagoons is developing a lagoon in ARCO’s Citystars Sharm El-Sheikh project. Are there any negotiations with ARCO Egypt to develop a lagoon in Citystars Al Sahel?
We have signed a contract with ARCO to establish a lagoon in Citystars Sharm El-Sheikh project in 2008. Currently, ARCO’s lagoon is being constructed on an area of 29 acres—the biggest in size in Sharm El-Sheikh.
How much of Crystal Lagoons’ portfolio is located in Egypt?
There is an ongoing demand for lagoons by Egyptian real estate developers. 50% of the lagoons that we develop in the Middle East are situated in Egypt, making it the largest Arab country in lagoon development. Additionally, we have just finalised our first project in Australia, a project in Europe, and several projects in the Middle East, in addition to 54 projects in Chile.
How does the devaluation of the Egyptian pound affect your business?
The devaluation is mainly affecting the partners we work with. Our contracts are based on taking a small percentage of the sales.
Who is responsible for importing raw materials from abroad—your company or the developer himself?
The developer or the partner is responsible for importing raw materials for the lagoon inside his project. However, we are flexible because we adapt to what is happening in the real estate market.
Does the lack of water availability concern you or affect the establishment of lagoons in Egypt?
We use any kind of water, but usually we fill our lagoons with salty water. We also don’t contract with any water companies because we have a water treatment technology company with a patented technology. We work in many fields to find alternative uses for our lagoons to increase their sustainability. One of the actions we took is working with a German institute to ensure that desalination takes place with a minimal amount of energy.
What is your opinion regarding real estate investments in Egypt?
The real estate market in Egypt witnessed a great boom due to an increase in property investments and given Egypt’s vast population and its purchasing power. I think that the market will do well in the next five or 10 years. Egypt will keep going and we will see more investments and new projects given that there are a lot of areas that need to be developed.
Did you finish developing lagoons in some of your projects in Egypt?
We design, supervise, and operate lagoons, but we implement the construction. So far, there is one lagoon operating in Citystars Sharm El-Sheikh. Our first three projects in the North Coast are under construction. Hopefully by next summer we will have two or three operating lagoons.
What is the lagoons’ maintenance system that the company provides for developers?
Maintenance is a very important part of our technology. We promise and guarantee high-quality maintenance. Through a remote system, we can control what is happening in the lagoon from a station located in Dubai, from where we supervise daily what is happening in the water. It also enables us to insert the additives that the lagoon needs. Therefore, we maintain the lagoon at a very low operation cost.
What other business does the company intend to launch in Egypt in the coming period?
We intend to launch our desalination technology in Egypt. We built our pilot station in Chile and are currently testing the technology.