It’s been a whirlwind couple of years in the real estate industry in Egypt. To get a feel of this shift in real estate, we sat down with Engineer Mostafa El-Tayeby, CEO of Al Forat Development. El-Tayeby is one of Alexandria’s leading real estate professionals, and we wanted to shed some light on just what it is that he does, especially for those interested in pursuing a career in real estate.
Even before we started our conversation with him, we could tell that El-Tayeby was an exceptional individual. Our meeting started right on time (something we do not experience very often in Egypt), and even though he spoke in the sharp, peremptory manner of a man who would take no nonsense, his eyes were warm and caring. He spoke about what he does with zeal. With volumes of books about engineering and architecture in his office, one thing was clear: this man is very passionate about what he does.
How did it all begin?
It all started with a relative of mine, who inspired me to take on a career in real estate. After graduating as a civil engineer in 1988, I worked in design for a few years until a childhood friend presented me with a real estate opportunity in Agamy. We formed a partnership and built our first building. It was a small project, but it was a great start. I went on to build 22 more buildings within the next four years. The real estate industry expanded greatly in the mid-90s. That’s when I went to King Mariotte and bought some land. I could tell that this area would become the future of Alexandria; it had great potential, but the area was far from ready, so I just looked at it as an investment and shifted my focus onto Alexandria. Today, we currently have multiple projects in Alexandria as well as in King, namely Jewar.
How would you describe Al Forat’s Company Culture?
I would describe our culture as one built on mutual respect. My business philosophy is to create and nurture positive employee and customer relationships where we are all better as a result of having one another in each other’s lives. The pragmatic application of this philosophy is to ensure that there is a constant flow of respect for time, care for each other’s well being and support for our mutual success—all of which are achieved by providing the instructions, knowledge and resources necessary to get the job done to the best of everyone’s ability.
As in most businesses, not just in real estate, the customer is king. We prioritize our clients above all else. Putting our clients first and going way beyond the normal scope that any company would go to has led to our success in building a business that doesn’t need to spend money advertising. We receive a large portion of our clients from referrals and past clients who attest to those in need about our attentiveness to resolving our clients’ matters. We take our delivery dates very seriously. Although our contract states very clear criteria to what clients should expect, we try to go the extra mile and go beyond these criteria. Even if a unit is admissible in the eyes of a client, that’s not enough; it has to be acceptable in mine, too.
In Al Forat, we believe in quality over quantity. Everything that I do must be done with quality in mind above all else, the way it was meant to be done. I have a passion for quality; this passion makes quality the key ingredient in everything that I work on. This includes continuous innovation. There’s a saying that goes like this: ‘Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.’ You must always be searching for means of improvement and innovation because if you’re not moving forward, then you’re moving backwards.
What’s next for Al Forat?
We have multiple projects pending licenses that I see actualizing in the next five years. These include buildings in Patrice Lumumba, Smouha, Sporting, and King Mariotte. My ultimate goal is to expand nationally, elevating the standards of the real estate industry in Egypt. Egypt has the potential to advance sustainably, and I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else in the world.
In your opinion, what are the core values that are crucial in a real estate business?
Without a doubt, the most important values to uphold are integrity and perseverance. You must act with honesty and honor at all times. One can make so much more money in real estate if they don’t have integrity, but short-cuts have a way of catching up with you. That’s why I go by the book and never break any laws. Secondly, having the drive to keep moving forward no matter what is essential.
What is one piece of advice you would give a fresh graduate who wishes to follow in your footsteps?
Risk-taking is absolutely crucial, and it’s a lot easier to be a risk-taker before you settle down with a family. Dedicate your life to your career for a period before settling down, because once you do, you will naturally become more cautious in your business actions because of your responsibilities. You need an overall vision to keep coming back to day after day and feel like you are contributing and building something big, plus providing a service or product that is genuinely useful and beneficial for people. Break your vision down into manageable chunks and lay them out on your roadmap in your business plan. Set objectives and build in regular review dates to assess and revise your targets. If you are optimistic yet realistic, you will see your progress in no time.