The revival of Tunis Sport City is expected to boost demand for a Singapore-linked luxury apartment in the Tunisian capital. The Singapore Tunisian Investment Company (STIC), part of the Bonvests Group, owns the Residence Tunis in the northern seaside neighbourhood of Gammarth and operates it in partnership with a local hotelier.
There have been few takers in the luxury apartment ever since the US$5bn Tunis Sports City project was stalled in the wake of the global financial crisis in 2008. But the recent announcement by the Chairman of the Sharjah-based construction and real estate conglomerate, Bukhatir Group, to relaunch its flagship integrated development project in the Tunisian capital has revived the flagging fortunes of STIC. Salah Bukhatir claimed that he had obtained ‘90%’ of the approvals the Group needed to restart the project.
The site of the 250-hectare Tunis Sport City lies on the north shore of Lake Tunis near the ruins of the ancient Phoenician city of Carthage. It is to be constructed in three phases – the first, which includes luxury villas, a nine-hole golf-course and sports facilities, is to be completed by 2026. The second, which is expected to be completed by 2028 will include a business district. The third phase, which is expected to be done by 2032 will include six hotels and a 13-hectare shopping complex. STIC’s Residence Tunis is located 10Kms north of Tunis Sport City.
There are concerns, however, about the impact the project will have on the environment as well as city traffic. The main road between Tunis and the city of La Marsa is already choked. Additional road users could make the problem worse. At the same time, if the project does go ahead, the economic benefits for the Tunisian capital could be considerable. Job creation would be an obvious one. Youth unemployment in Tunisia is running at 42.4% and is widely acknowledged to be of a serious concern.
Meanwhile, STIC appears to have dusted off plans to open three more luxury hotels in Tunisia under the Residence brand. They are located in the old quarter of Tunis called Medina, in the Sahara desert at a place called Douz; and on the island of Djerba. These will be operated by its subsidiary, Cenizaro. The company, which was registered in 2008 includes, among its board of directors, Henry Ngo, a Singapore-based investor.
The project agreement between Bukhatir and the government was originally concluded in 2008. It was then interrupted by the global financial crisis, after which banks became reluctant to finance real estate projects. The ousting of the then president Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali and the governance paralysis that followed a succession of governments halted work on the project.
The revival of the Tunis Sport City is a signal that business confidence is starting to return after years of political instability. The Tunisian government hopes it will encourage other investors to step in. In the first half of 2021, Japan became the biggest Asian investor in Tunisia. Japanese firms are engaged primarily in the assembly of automobiles and employ an estimated 20,000 workers in Tunisia. The Japanese government will hold the eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 8) in the Tunis in August and has promised to increase its investments in the country three-folds.
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Unemployment figures from the National Statistics Institute
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