Samih Sawiris, Founder Of World-famous Company Orascom Development Holding, Which Is Developing The Luštica Bay Project On The Montenegrin Coast

A Vision Of Life As It Should Be

“It is often difficult for me to convey my idea to people before the project comes to life. Although many believe that this type of business requires courage, I would say that the main quality that is needed is patience. I have enough patience and perseverance to start, and then take a lot of time until my vision becomes a reality.”

Luštica Bay, the emerging city, the largest investment project in Montenegro, is creating a unique way of life under the slogan ‘a place to call home’. Luštica Bay is a home, but also a summerhouse, where culture, heritage and gastronomy live in symbiosis, to create authentic experiences for all family members.

During our meeting with Samih Sawiris, leader of globally renowned company ORASCOM, which creates integrated cities in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Morocco, Switzerland and Great Britain, we discussed the business vision, long-term goals and benefits of this project, which already has the contours of an authentic city.

Given that you have chosen a business model that very few entrepreneurs follow, I guess it took a lot of courage to embark on something like that?

When I started my business many years ago, I didn’t know what I was getting into, where this journey was going, or how long it would take. I think that the big advantage is that I was much younger when I started. If I had known then what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have gotten into it. Now that I have several projects behind me, I realise that it is not a question of courage at all, but only of patience and perseverance.

When I say courage, I am also talking about the way of thinking that someone must have to embark on a project like this. In that sense, looking back, what did you learn on that business journey?

I have faced many obstacles, but now, after so many years of work, I know that they are always only temporary and that, in the end, everything will work out as it should. You must be persistent and patient to overcome these obstacles.

Does that mean that, in some way, it is better to follow your instinct in business?

Absolutely! For example, another thing I learned through my work is that it is the community that gives life to a town. To give the simplest example – you can have the best restaurant, but if you only have two guests, it will not work. When I started working on the El Gouna project (Egypt), I thought that it was enough to have 60 beautiful villas, a hotel and a marina, and that the project was over.

In fact, it took 16 hotels and 16 years to really say that. The project was successfully completed only when we had enough people who lived there permanently, as well as enough facilities and infrastructure that were crucial for life in the city. Today, we have between 25,000 and 27,000 permanent residents in El Gouna.

When we talk about the community, we must mention the importance of integrating the local community into the development process. Do you think that the public has recognised the importance of this project?

It is not at all easy to convey your vision to the local population. If you have not had the opportunity to see and experience something like it, hardly anyone can imagine someone in the middle of the desert creating a new city. The moment the project becomes tangible, when it comes to life, then the belief is stronger. I always have a bigger picture in my head, because I’ve been doing this for a long time, but I can’t expect others to think so broadly and so far ahead, it wouldn’t be fair.

To what extent did the local business community recognise the importance of this project and to what extent did it engage in this very successful new site?

Many stakeholders, such as the business community and potential investors, say that the people of Montenegro have recognised the importance of Luštica Bay. The rich offer, including boutiques, restaurants, shops and small and large spaces, is rented exclusively by local entrepreneurs, who bring the spirit of Montenegro to Luštica Bay.

We have an increasing number of businesspeople in our city and they are the ones who bring in the new population. When you manage to attract local businesspeople to do business with you, it is a sure sign that you are on the right track.

Luštica Bay has successfully attracted as many as 46 different nationalities under the slogan of the parent company Orascom – “Life as it should be”. If we look at the slogan as a whole, what does it promise?

The idea of Luštica Bay is to create an integrated community of new residents and locals who will feel connected to this place. I want them to think of Luštica Bay as their home. For such projects, people are much more important than numbers. That is the biggest and most important aspect! The area where Luštica Bay was created is a very interesting area of pristine nature and unexplored waters that was waiting to become a part of our everyday life.

What would you say is this project’s secret?

You have to see what people need and make it possible for them. This is the most important! Local people and their needs are the first step in building an integrated community. It doesn’t matter to me how many people will buy houses and keep them closed for almost the whole year, as much as I care about individuals who live in the area and come to Luštica Bay to enjoy a cup of their favourite coffee with a spectacular view. I also want people who live near Luštica Bay to feel that this is their city, not a place where people buy real estate and come sometimes.

I guess you often change your location and the country you live in. Do you plan more frequent visits to Montenegro in the period ahead?

Montenegro is beautiful. The people are very kind and I feel at home here, so I always have the feeling that I want to return to this place. Now I have a little more time, because I left most of the work to my son. I will keep my interest in the progress of small and interesting projects such as Mamula. This island will soon be open to the public and when it starts its life it will be a very interesting place that people will want to visit. I also have a project in Morocco that I am particularly attached to and that keeps me busy.

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