10th Dec, 2016

Coventry worker's nightmare experience buying Egyptian holiday home

Coventry Editorial 2nd Nov, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

BUYING ‘dream’ holiday homes in Egypt has turned into a nightmare for two couples who forked out their life-savings on properties which have never been built.

Six years ago, former Massey Ferguson worker Susanne Lewis and husband David ploughed £40,000 into the promise of a luxury apartment in Hurghada on the Red Sea Coast.

And around the same time, Coventry University telephonist Suzanne Dobson-Smith and husband Jim spent £58,000 buying a beachfront apartment on the same Oasis Marina resort.

Developers Iraida Estate Agency – who had already built a separate complex in the town – had promised both couples a beachfront luxury apartment with spectacular sea views.

But following terrorist attacks four years ago which hit the country’s tourism industry and plunged the Egyptian economy  into meltdown, building work drew to a sudden halt.

The company which both couples – along with 200 other investors – had bought homes from announced it had ran into financial difficulty.

Grandmother-of-two Suzanne has employed a lawyer to try and recoup the lost cash – but fears her life-savings are gone and that she will never see her dream holiday home.

She also partly blames the stress of the situation for the collapse of her marriage to Jim, with whom she has two children but is now divorced.

She told the Observer: “It would appear we have lost our money and are the owners of an uninhabitable property in the middle of the desert with a building site around it.

“I am bringing up two of my young grandchildren and this money could really be put to good use.

“My lawyer claims we have a strong chance of obtaining a refund, but he has claimed this for four years now and we are still waiting.

“Another couple successfully sued Iraida for a refund, but three years later they are still awaiting payment.

“I doubt we will ever get our money back but I can’t just accept this so I keep up to date with events and hope something will change one day.”

David and Susanne are equally doubtful they will ever see their money again.

The couple lived in Cubbington before moving to Germany 13 years ago. Their relocation came after Susanne was transferred from Massey Ferguson’s former Coventry hub to their European base.

David, aged 70, and his wife Susanne, 49, had visited Hurghada every year for a decade and had fallen in love with the town and its beautiful beaches.

With David set to retire they decided to buy a home there where he could spend months at a time enjoying the Egyptian sun.

While on holiday they stumbled across Iraida staff who invited them to a presentation and sold them their beachfront apartment, which they paid for upfront. They were told it would be completed within 18 months.

When they returned home the couple was kept updated by email but eventually correspondence stopped altogether. They tried to call Iraida but got nowhere.

Dad-of-one David, a former car body worker, told the Observer: “It made sense to buy somewhere for us, our friends and family. We bought an apartment like so many other people and stupidly paid for it all at once.

“We have spent thousands flying back and forth to sort this out and have lost our life savings. We hope eventually we will get the money back.”

The affected investors are launching a group legal action in a bid to hold chief executive of the Iraida company, Ehab Shahwan, to account. The group has hired a lawyer in Egypt to pursue the case after years of being told building work will soon begin.

Mr Shahwan says he hopes the company will start construction in 12 months.

He said: “I believe it is a good investment and the hard time has now passed – after a short time everyone will see.”