Some may remember Designopolis, the trendy but now gone, one stop retail destination for furniture and home accessories that used to be a part of SODIC WEST. The good news is that there’s currently a plan to revitalise this 1km stretch of strategic frontage in West Cairo, and to transform it to an outdoor lifestyle destination, to be called the Walk of Cairo. The massive overhaul of the development owned by Bonyan, a portfolio company of Compass Capital will be led by Compass’ Founder & Chairman, Shamel Aboul Fadl, who acquired the asset last year.
Aboul Fadl, has an impressive résumé that includes high-level positions at several weighty investment companies. After earning his MBA in 1999 from the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, he founded several successful investment companies. Compass Capital was founded by Aboul Fadl in 2010, a few months before the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Through his innovative business acumen, the company grew exponentially, and in the process acquired an impressive roster of companies. Today, the company has grown into one of the leading private equity companies in Egypt.
“Our company’s work culture is very entrepreneurial and is built in the absence of any ego or politics. Most importantly, we don’t shy away from challenges. We are attracted to, and focus exclusively on, distressed assets. We believe we have the skills, as well as the financial and operational background to turn such companies around,” says Aboul Fadl. Compass always seeks challenging investment opportunities, and this is for sure one of them.
Speaking exclusively to us about his latest venture, Aboul Fadl reveals that he has always been fond of the asset, “I’ve always had an affinity for this space. It was brimming with potential, and to me, it had so much positive energy. I was always in love with its architecture, layout and the outdoors experience, so I jumped when I heard of the opportunity to acquire it, because I saw what it could become.”
The Walk of Cairo, affectionately referred to as the WOC, will not only be a retail and commercial experience, but rather the ultimate outdoor lifestyle destination in Egypt. The WOC will offer Food & Beverage outlets, diverse shopping locations, sports and entertainment venues for the entire family, as well as many other attractions for visitors to experience and indulge in, all in one gated outdoor space.
Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), the renowned architecture firm that is behind Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the WOC oozes modernity with its all-glass façade and double height building entrances. Egypt’s year-round sunlight will add to its magic and grandeur, seamlessly merging the indoor and outdoor spaces into one cohesive environment. The WOC’s strategic location in the residential hub of Sheikh Zayed, offers local inhabitants a unique outdoor lifestyle destination close to their homes. In sum, the WOC’s unique modern design, strategic location and ease of parking, along with abundance of greenery makes it the ultimate high street experience in the city of Cairo.
Featuring two wide promenades with a combined walkway of almost 2KM, Bonyan plans to seamlessly integrate “the high-street” experience almost exclusively found in European cities to Egypt. There is a great need for outdoor spaces where people can walk and congregate, Aboul Fadl explains, “One of the most recurring complaints you hear from Egyptians is that there are no pleasant areas in Cairo to take a walk, especially for generations that are used to walking in the streets of Downtown Cairo or Zamalek or even at sporting clubs. The weather in Egypt is very suitable for outdoor activities almost all year round and there is a need for an enjoyable pedestrian experience where people wanting to get out of their homes could spend a day in the sun. The key for me is to cater to those that enjoy the outdoor experience and the WOC is uniquely designed for that purpose.” As for those who want to make an effortless journey from one end of the WOC to the other, coolly designed electronic cars will help make the ride hassle-free with plenty of entertainment attractions along the way.
Divided into three prominent areas, each zone is distinctive in its offerings. Although there is a combination of all offerings along the WOC, each section is skewed towards one or more. The West End is where fine dining will reside, while Central WOC is focused more on retail and will be the area for trendy boutiques, and the East End will serve as the entertainment sector with an extensive entertainment offering. “We researched diligently to ensure our tenant mix follows best practice in the market,” says Aboul Fadl, emphasising the importance of the right tenant mix for the WOC’s success.
According to Aboul Fadl, the first phase of the WOC will reinvent the dining scene in Egypt by introducing unique restaurants coming for the first time from neighbouring Lebanon and Europe to the Egyptian market. “We are excited to have tenants that are leaders in their respective industries. We believe our unique tenants, offering the best Lebanon and Europe have to offer, will transform the WOC into West Cairo’s top destination. What’s being done here is a different experience, on a different level. It will surely be a game changer,” Aboul Fadl excitedly explains, pointing to how he expects the WOC’s offering will elevate the dining scene in Egypt as a whole, by setting new food trends and providing a platform for food enthusiasts to share their passion.
“It is also important to embrace and encourage the funky and different food that is being served from a container format which has become popular among youth, and hence, we have made sure that we include in our design another prominent feature to attract visitors by positioning a number of containers alongside benches stacked differently to offer a casual and eclectic dining option adjacent to the outdoor stage,” says Aboul Fadl.
Aboul Fadl adds that this large outdoor stage area featuring the latest live shows will also make for another large traffic driver to the WOC. Nothing beats spending the day outside watching a nice live performance from dozens of local and foreign artists while spending time with friends, grabbing a bite and relaxing in the outdoors.
The next good news is that you don’t have to wait too long for this amazing new hub, since the WOC’s first phase will be completed towards the end of this year. So, grab your favourite pair of sunglasses and get ready to enjoy the extraordinary attractions awaiting you at the WOC.