Egypt Real Estate: Engineer Amr Soliman Presents Mountain View iCity, the First Happy City in the World

In this exclusive interview, Engineer Amr Soliman presents Mountain View iCity, the first happy city in the world. With its innovative 4-dimensional design, iCity offers separate layers for themed parks, lush outdoors and activities; the hidden motorway and parking layer; a fascinating 15km corniche connecting all the parks with walking, jogging and biking trails; and finally the privacy of your home in New Cairo, Egypt.

Interview with Engineer Amr Soliman, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Mountain View

Engineer Amr Soliman, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Mountain View

What are the main competitive advantages of Mountain View? How does it distinguish itself from other places and what sets it apart?

Around six years ago, we asked ourselves what made us different and what our higher purpose was. We wanted to know why we started and if what we offered was unique. We realized that we wanted to bring happiness into people’s lives, since our goal is to simplify life and make people happy.

We’ve begun to understand how to bring happiness to people, we took a look on Disney and Delivering Happiness Company, a company founded by Tony Hsieh, the Co-Founder of Zappos, which is owned by Amazon Robotics. Delivering Happiness is known for its expertise in implementing the “science of happiness”, and they have worked with many big international companies. While Disney is all about entertainment, we wanted to learn how to make people happy, even when they are facing difficulties. We partnered with Delivering Happiness and embarked on a two- to three-year journey with our employees. As to start bringing happiness to your clients, you have to make your employees happy first. It was a challenging and deep process, but we were committed to it. After this journey, we built new headquarters, which we believe are one of the best in the world, incorporating the science of happiness.

We’ve also developed 16 projects including 2 cities named “iCity”, with the goal of creating a small City on 500 acres each where people can go anywhere without crossing a street and it is the first of its kind. We took this goal seriously and worked hard to make it a reality, with the help of many operators. Our efforts paid off, and we did develop it.

The hardware of “iCity” is built on the 4D concept structure, with a cross-section that allows for normal access and a separate dimension for services, such as garbage, fire control and parking, creating an underground city full of services which is the first level/dimension. This approach allowed us to separate the parks and pedestrian areas, reducing coordination issues which is the second level/dimension. Our city spans a Cornish length of 15 kilometers, which enables us to process everything without crossing any streets, which is the third level/dimension. Talking about the fourth level/dimension, it is of course the buildings.

The result was that in most cities, around 25% of the area is taken up by roads, as planners typically prioritize road development. However, we took a different approach that yielded a city with only 1% of the area being roads and the rest being parks. This approach allowed us to create a road network that provided access to all areas of the city by car, without diverging from our central idea. As a result, we managed to reduce the percentage of car road spaces to have people enjoy walking together and live their lives.

So, our approach to city planning has also led us to develop new software. While software is typically associated with technology and not the real estate industry, we’ve realized that people now are living in their own bubbles and the mobile usage percentage is very high, which leads them to not having any activities nor doing any communication with each other. Hence, we created a Matrix Model with operators who are specialized in different age groups and interests to organize activities for our residents. Additionally, we also incorporated a new approach into our new retail project, where every shop offers not just food and beverage, but also hands-on learning experiences, like jewelry-making and business planning for development. This has created a unique and immersive experience for families and individuals in our community of residents.

Our software not only helps manage facilities and properties, but also promotes happiness management. We measure people’s happiness index by assessing their hobbies, skills, teamwork, socialization, and well-being. That is why we decided to create organized activities to encourage people to socialize and form new friendships without sitting in their bubble, and we followed this by a huge campaign to let people listen to our voice.

What makes us different is all of the above and by fact we’ve grown a lot. In 2018, our selling revenue was around 2 billion Egyptian pounds and we ranked 50th in the real estate market in Egypt. However, in the last year, our selling revenue was around 31 billion Egyptian pounds and we became one of the top three companies in the real estate industry in just four or five years.

Do you have any specific goals for being at MIPIM? What are you hoping to achieve?

Our goal is to showcase our “iCity” project that incorporates fourth-dimensional hardware and activity-based software to enhance people’s happiness. We have already built and proven this city, and investors can visit us to see it physically on ground. We aim to introduce our vision to every investor. Last year, we were also at MIPIM and BOMA in Chicago, and as a result, we are now partnering with Alesayi, a leading company in the real estate sector in Saudi Arabia, to build residential projects based on the science of happiness in KSA. This allows people to see the physical results and the revenue generated from our approach. Also, we’ve extended our collaboration with Sisban Holding to build the new retail experience in KSA.

How far along in the development are you?

Our development journey started in 2005 with a goal to be different, unique and innovative in the Egyptian real estate market. We have over 16 living projects where people have been living in the majority of them for many years. We always seek to keep our projects up to date, not only from the operational side, but from the activities we do inside our community as well. You cannot rebuild old projects. However, we are developing the “software” inside the compounds which is simply happiness and development activities for all ages, which we now call the “lighthouse”. The lighthouse is like energy and art combined. Additionally, we have a Mountain View Foundation, which allows our employees and clients to participate voluntarily in some goodness activities instead of just giving money. So, when we approach our projects with a scientific mindset and a commitment to excellence, we can achieve truly exceptional results. And now, when we attend international and local exhibitions, we showcase our products in addition to the hardware and software that we are offering.

Can you provide more information about the current status of development for the latest model you described, and how it is progressing at different levels?

Currently, we have developed about 50% of all the projects, and in most cases, we have developed about 80% or 90% of everything and some projects are already completed 100%. Our “iCity” project was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of Egypt and the Minister of Housing in Egypt, which is a testament to how different and unique our approach is. This project is the only one of its kind to include five residential parks – Club Park, MV Park, Lagoon Beach Park, Mountain Park, and Mountain View 3 – that appeal to our communities’ varied tastes. To those who dream of waking up to rejuvenating lush greenery, pacifying water features, or energizing mountains, iCity is a place worthy of calling home. Diversity in iCity extends further to include a wide range of products – from the iVilla, to the Millennial Apartment, the Wood House, Lake House, and more – that address our community’s different needs and aspirations.

How do you see yourself in five years? Do you aim to expand this concept globally? Can you describe your vision for the future?

Our dream is not only to implement this project, but to spread the idea of creating happy communities all over the world and let our residents experience happiness every day. We had started in Egypt which is our hometown and now we are expanding to Saudi Arabia and we are open to exploring new markets of course. We believe that the “lighthouse” concept is not only for our own use, but also to give people the opportunity to develop themselves and give them the tools to experience happiness. There is a “science” behind how we create happiness and that is what we are focusing on. Our higher purpose and vision is to “bring life to land and spread happiness around us”. We understand that having a higher purpose without profit is not sustainable, and so we strive to balance both. We believe that achieving both profit and a higher purpose is a good combination.


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