LAHORE: Pakistani real estate giant Rafi Group made a 10-fold profit last year from its sale of hundreds of acres of land in the remote fishing town of Gwadar, acquired soon after the government announced plans for a deep-sea port there.
The windfall came after 12 years of waiting patiently for the Gwadar port to emerge as the centerpiece of China’s ambitious plans for a trade and energy corridor stretching from the Arabian Gulf, across Pakistan, into western Xinjiang.
“We had anticipated the Chinese would need a route to the Arabian Sea,” Rafi Group Chief Executive Shehriar Rafi told Reuters. “And today, all routes lead back to Gwadar.”
Gwadar forms the southern Pakistan hub of a $57-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) of infrastructure and energy projects Beijing announced in 2014.
Since then, land prices have skyrocketed as property demand has spiked, and dozens of real estate firms want to cash in.
“Gwadar is a ‘Made in China’ brand and everyone wants a piece,” said realtor Afzal Adil, one of several who shifted operations from the eastern city of Lahore in 2015.
Last year, Pakistan welcomed the first large shipment of Chinese goods at Gwadar, where the China Overseas Ports Holding Company Ltd. took over operations in 2013. It plans to eventually handle 300 million to 400 million tons of cargo a year.