Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Mega Project Launched To Regenerate Old Medina of Casablanca, Morocco

* Wessal Capital, the investment fund with a unique SWF shareholding structure supports second stage of Casablanca re-development

* Growing investor confidence in Moroccan tourism market helps Wessal Capital, the investment arm overseeing the Wessal Casa-Port project, to secure additional €28 million of funding to support development

* Old Medina project builds on rich cultural heritage to reclaim Casablanca’s status as premier cultural, business and tourism destination

* The regeneration of the Old Medina is a response to local residents’ desire to improve their neighborhood and boost local economy

Morocco has begun the €28 million regeneration of the historic Old Medina of Casablanca, a vital part of the city’s history and one of its most appealing tourist attractions. The project is part of Wessal Capital’s €530 million Casa-Port project, which will transform Casablanca’s harbor and port area and help restore the city once known as the jewel of Morocco.

The restoration of the Old Medina is the second phase of the Casa-Port project, with work on the port redevelopment starting last week. When completed, Wessal Casa-Port will offer world-class tourism infrastructure, including the development of the city’s first marina, an upgraded port and new commercial and cultural spaces. The public-private partnership is due for completion in five years.

The historic Old Medina is one of Morocco’s most important cultural sites and the country’s largest medina, dating to the sixth century. It has been a focus for Casablanca’s commercial and civic life for centuries, including currently hosting seven mosques, three synagogues and a church – a testament to Morocco’s religious openness and sense of tolerance. The regeneration works include creating a 3.7 km tourist pathway winding through the medina and connecting with the new cruise ship terminal, going through all the major heritage buildings combining tradition and modernity in a way that inspires visitors and the people of Morocco.

Tourism is the second largest contributor to Morocco's GDP and is also the second biggest job creator, playing a vital role in the country’s overall economy. In 2013, tourist arrivals exceeded 10 million for the first time. However, Casablanca is often overlooked as a tourist attraction by visitors who instead prioritize travel to other parts of the country, such as Marrakech and Fes. Enhancing the appeal of the medina, which has long been the heart of the city, together with the coastline district, will help reposition Casablanca as a major destination for cultural, business and cruise tourism.

Morocco projects the investment in Wessal Casa-Port will help revitalize the economy, generating employment in a thriving tourism sector. The project is anticipated to double employment in the area and triple employment in areas indirectly linked to the project. Already 2000 jobs have been created in the construction phase alone, with 6000 more planned.

The project reflects His Majesty King Mohammed VI’s personal interest in the social and economic development of Casablanca, as well as the improvement of the standard of living of the city’s inhabitants.

The rehabilitation aligns with Morocco’s wider cultural, socio-economic and urban development strategy, which is improving living conditions, creating job opportunities, upgrading the city’s buildings and preserving Casablanca’s historical and cultural legacy.

This project in particular will support the aspirations of Casablanca’s youth. It has been designed to help them access new economic, social and cultural opportunities which support their own well-being and Morocco’s continued growth. Part of the rehabilitation program launched by the King includes setting up “work re-insertion centers”, especially focused on women and youth, to help some of the inhabitants acquire working skills and take advantage of the local job opportunities created by the vast infrastructure developments underway nearby. Another initiative is working to improve the marketing of handicraft products produced by the artisans of the medina.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Kuwait's Tamdeen Group To Go Ahead With US$700 Million Al Khiran Development

> 75,000-sqm high end ‘Outlet Mall’ with state-of-the-art entertainment and F&B components to showcase the project

> Resort style apartment living adjacent to a 5-star hotel with an international spa

Tamdeen Group – Kuwait’s leading mixed-use property developer that is reshaping the urban and social landscape of the country through innovative projects – has announced the multi-million dollar Al Khiran development which will be at the heart of the Sabah Al Ahmed Sea City.

Valued at US$700 million, the resort-style project which will be spread across 350,000-sqm of water-front, will eventually create significant opportunities for Kuwait’s tourism and business growth. A one-of-a-kind development, the project will include Kuwait’s first high-end Outlet Mall, two high-rise residential towers, one furnished apartments tower, a marina to house over 900 boats – the biggest in Kuwait - and a 5-star resort style hotel with an international spa component.

Launching the project, Mohammed Jassim Khalid Al Marzouq, Chairman of Tamdeen Group said: “We believe in Kuwait, in its economic future and its excellent legal systems. The new found cooperation between the Government and Parliament has given us even more confidence to invest further in Kuwait. Today we have projects worth US$2 billion in the pipeline.

“Kuwait is recognized as a country that has one of the world’s highest per capita incomes estimated at US$48,260, which means the country is well-placed to drive growth across different retail segments. It also remains one of the most underserviced markets in the GCC in terms of quality retail space.

“Kuwait’s economy is among the strongest in the region and in a country where 45 percent of the population is in the 20-39 years age range, household spending on international brands within the retail sector is on the rise. This is where Al Khiran will offer value not just in terms of shopping but an overall customer experience.”

The Tamdeen Group has been developing significant shopping center and mixed-use properties over the last two decades. The Group has built the iconic 360 MALL and the Al Kout waterfront project, both of which have become important symbols of Kuwait. Their unique architecture makes them one-of-a-kind destinations offering an unmatched shopping experience for their discerning customers. Al Khiran will add to that offering in its own unique way.

“We also believe that Kuwait has huge untapped potential for ‘conservative tourism’ and this project will attract people from our three large neighbors creating a new destination,” added Al Marzouq.

The 75,000-sqm luxury Outlet Mall within Al Khiran will have the finest mix of luxury and premium brands. The entire mall will have an outdoor ambiance with indoor streets covered by continuous skylights to provide natural light.

Designed by leading international architects RTKL, the mall will have a unique resort-style architecture which will incorporate traditional Arabic motifs. The mall’s fa├žade will add to its identity providing a highly sustainable solution which filters light and provides shade. A continuous covered arcade will showcase the retail elements and provide comfortable seating for various restaurants.

A lot of thought and input has gone into landscaping design for the entire project which in itself will be an attraction for tourists and residents alike. A massive promenade covered with palms will create the pedestrian space between the mall and the marina. Celebrated landscape architects PWP from the USA have worked hard to create the landscape link for the entire project while providing terraced seating options for customers’ dining pleasure.

The most iconic landform will be at the center of the development. The Al Khiran Park with its rich and varied vegetation will include a variety of open air attractions for children as well as huge performance spaces. This in itself will create a powerful magnet for all of Kuwait.

Al Khiran will become the entertainment and commercial cornerstone of the new community at Sabah Al Ahmed Sea City and surrounding areas of over 200,000 people. The residences will provide a resort-style home-away-from-home for the discerning Kuwaiti with access to some of the finest leisure facilities, private swimming pools and a ‘beach front’. A 5-star hotel with an international spa will attract both Kuwaiti residents and tourists alike.

Al Marzouq further explained: “Tamdeen Group companies have been known to deliver high-end, world-class quality projects that rival the very best in the world. Kuwait has been witnessing a 6.6 percent average rise in tourism and increasing demand for luxury products and services. Projects like Al Khiran fulfil that national expectation and Tamdeen Group is honored to be a catalyst to the country’s overall economic, retail and tourism growth.”

Today, the Tamdeen Group of Companies has a combined paid up capital of US$1.35 billion with close to US$4 billion in assets, making the group one of Kuwait’s most significant private-sector players.

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