The memorandum of understanding that the UAE-based Arabtec Holding signed with the Egyptian government on 9 March is much more than just a construction contract.

Once a definitive agreement is signed, the firm will start developing one million low-cost homes and will begin to redress one of Egypt’s greatest social and economic challenges.

For Arabtec Holding, the deal is a game-changer. It is the first major project for its property development subsidiary, Arabtec Real Estate, which was established in December last year. This is a departure from Arabtec’s typical operations as a general building contractor, and will see it become a fully-fledged real estate company that will plan, design, sell and develop properties.

The deal will generate billions of dollars of new backlog for Arabtec Holding’s construction businesses, making it the busiest contractor in Egypt and arguably the most active contractor in the Middle East.

For Egyptians, the deal is possibly even more significant as they need homes and employment urgently. The building programme is expected to create one million jobs.

Politically, even though Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has not officially announced his candidacy, he is widely expected to run for presidency in the presidential and parliamentary elections in the coming months.

By enlisting the help of his supporters in the GCC, he has shown he can tackle the largest economic challenges the country’s new president will face, and that will undoubtedly bolster any prospects he may have at the ballot box.

With so much at stake for everyone involved, the deal is too big to fail. If the new government, foreign investors and the people can work together then the scheme will be a success. But as recent years have shown, in Egypt, nothing is certain.