Cairo Festival City in Egypt

I’ve been passing the 3 million square meter Cairo Festival City in New Cairo for the past few years on 90 Street, watching them making progress on the construction site, willing them to finish. There were quite a few delays due to the political instability, but today Cairo Festival City finally opened its doors to the public. Exactly like Dubai Festival City in Dubai, it has a mall, an IKEA store — a first for Egypt –, plenty of landscape design, a Carrefour hypermarket and free outdoor parking. I was quite excited to attend the opening and couldn’t wait to see what it looked like.

You’ll ideally need a car to get to the mall, otherwise it’s going to be a long walk. There’s free outdoor parking and lots of spaces, over 6,500 of them. Once you drive in it really feels as though you’ve left the city of Cairo behind. The roads are wide, the buildings are the same level, and there’s so much greenery and space. There are also pavements around the parking lot. Although today was the official opening of Cairo Festival City, builders still had a lot of work to do paving paths, laying turf for the gardens , and marking spaces for cars.

There’s also an indoor car park for those who want access right next to the mall or Carrefour without walking too far.

And the IKEA store! Just standing in front of the iconic blue and yellow building made me feel as though I was back in Wembley in London, shopping for furniture.

Oval shaped, the mall is approximately 168,000 square meters. It’s conveniently located on the east side of the Ring Road in Greater Cairo, just a 15 minute drive from Cairo International Airport. The mall isn’t as luxuriously furnished as Sun City Mall, although also owned by the Al Futtaim group. It has a different style entirely; contemporary, practical for the hordes that will come through the doors.

But more importantly, there are over 300 stores in the 3 storey mall. There are also flagship stores, like Marks and Spencer, Debenhams, and of course IKEA.

Other features of Cairo Festival City Mall include what the mall boasts as “the region’s largest Kidzania, Egypt’s first edutainment destination as well as Magic Planet for the young visitors”. It also has a musical dancing fountain like the one in the Mall of Arabia in 6 October City, with an open terrace area for various restaurants.

Even if to some Cairo Festival City looks like just another mall, such a vast entertainment site is set to change the landscape of New Cairo and Cairo alike. Like the western side of Cairo, specifically 6 October City, the eastern side of Cairo finally gets a mega entertainment complex too .

Cairo Festival City
Fifth Settlement
off 90 Street
New Cairo,
Cairo

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Finding Exclusivity in Sun City

After passing the construction site that would soon become the Sun City mall for a year and a half on a weekly basis, I was thrilled to learn that the mall had, after quite a delay, finally opened its doors to the public. Situated in Heliopolis, right next to Cairo International airport, Sun City looks small on the outside but is surprisingly huge on the inside.

Because of the airport next door, building regulations are tightly controlled in the area, making it impossible to build up. So the mall was excavated several storeys deep to bring us this shiny, stylish mall that I likened to the ones in Qatar. It looks classier than City Stars and the floors shine to the extent where you can see your own reflection.

The mall is built on a total of 200,000 square meters, with a total of seven floors. Those who want to shop at Carrefour are better off parking on the roof since the giant superstore is located on the top floor.

Even the ticket you receive for your car is unique — a small yellow plastic coin. It all felt very Las Vegas-y. (You won’t feel very Las Vegas-y if you lose it though — the fine is 75 Egyptian pounds — so be sure to keep it safe.)

Quite suitable named Sun City because of its location in Heliopolis (the Greek word for “City of the Sun” or “Sun City”) the attention to detail was what I liked most, the golden pillars, the brass railings, and the shiny, creamy floors. I even found the chandeliers to be quite charming, consistent throughout the mall.

There are a range of stores, mostly high-end, which gives the impression that the mall is targeting a particular, upper-class clientèle However, there were independent stores I had not heard of before, but with the same high-end quality in mind, so as to complete the mall’s consistent theme of luxury.

There are a range of stores, mostly high-end, which gives the impression that the mall is targeting a particular, upper-class clientèle However, there were independent stores I had not heard of before, but with the same high-end quality in mind, so as to complete the mall’s consistent theme of luxury.

Sun City mall may not be as large as City Stars and other malls in Cairo, but I prefer it when all I want is a quiet cup of tea or a hassle-free-window-shopping-stroll.

Although many stores and facilities are yet to open, it is worth just visiting the food court, the cinemas, and browsing the stores that have already opened. You could escape Egypt’s oppressive summer heat and be transported to another dimension where you might make-believe that you were actually shopping at the Duty-Free next door, waiting for your flight out of Cairo.

But now to the delicious discovery: The food court. It surprised me because it was much more spacious than the food courts in other malls, well-lit and to reiterate my point – quite spacious. What also surprised me was the fact that it was quiet, with only a few people eating. Was I really in Cairo? More importantly, would it always be this quiet? Even if it wasn’t — avoid holidays and weekends if you prefer an adequately-sized population — I would definitely be visiting on a weekday afternoon to avoid the manic crowds.

That aside, if you’re looking for a Duty-Free-themed-exclusive-experience without checking into the airport, Sun City could be the perfect place to spend the day.

Sun City
Next to Cairo International Airport,
Autostrad Road,
Sheraton Buildings,
Heliopolis,
Cairo.

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