Egypt hails new 'furniture city' in Damietta

  • Monday 24, February 2020 11:16 AM
  • Egypt hails new 'furniture city' in Damietta
Sharjah24 – Reuters: Egypt has built a multi-billion-pound "furniture city" near the mouth of the Nile, a pilot for a series of industry mega-hubs it wants to throw up across the nation, but it could face a struggle to populate it.
The sprawling industrial park, inaugurated in December, is 10 km (6 miles) outside the port city of Damietta, long the centre of Egypt's once-flourishing but now languishing furniture trade.

The aim of the 3.6 billion pound ($230 million) project, and the other planned specialised parks, is to boost economic growth and create jobs badly needed in a country where about a third of the 100 million people live in poverty.

The idea is "to gather all the furniture makers and workshop owners to increase production and exports", said Bassem Nabil, chief executive of the Damietta Furniture City.

However only 400 of the 1,400 newly built workshops have been sold so far.

At least half a dozen craftsmen who spoke to Reuters said they would not move to the new city, citing the proximity of their current workshops to their homes and, at 300,000 pounds to be paid over 10 years to buy a workshop, the relatively high costs of being based in the new city.

The furniture city stretches for 1.39 million square metres, filled with beige and orange concrete workshops trimmed with aluminium siding, resembling car garages built side-by-side.

The furniture industry has been in decline for some 20 or 30 years, hit by changing tastes and cheaper imports from Turkey and China, as well as depressed consumer spending.