Desert Pearl Development fiasco in Hurghada, Egypt

Desert Pearl Development fiasco in Hurghada, Egypt


Rivermead support investors of the Desert Pearl development fiasco as other agents simply walk away.

Where it all started

‘The Desert Pearl Beach Apartments are located in the El Kawthar area of Hurghada, close to the heart of the town and just 200 metres from its spacious tree-lined boulevards and the beach’.

Predictably, customers lined up to invest in the paradise described above when the Egyptian property market started to take off around three years ago.  However, no one could have overseen the fiasco that has left around 300 investors in the lurch over the Desert Pearl developments.

In 2006, Worldwide Destinations, based in Cambridge, announced a new development in Hurghada, Egypt.  Fast becoming one of the newest holiday hotspots, as part of the ‘Red Sea Riviera’, many jumped at the opportunity to own a piece of paradise that they could use as holiday homes or retirement spots.  Three years later, and the picture of an idyllic life has been shattered for many.

Who is involved and what is the current situation?

The squalid story involves Worldwide Destinations, who were responsible for selling the properties, and El Riad Real Estate, who were the developers.  Earlier this year, it emerged that Worldwide Destinations failed to pay El Riad a sum of money in the region of £2.4 million.  As a result, locks were changed on properties, construction has stalled and many prospective home owners are left in fear of what has happened to their investments.  To make matters worse, the land that the Desert Pearl Developments was built on has been mortgaged to the Bank of Abu Dhabi for 25 million Egyptian Pounds.

Now, on their website, El Riad are claiming all the rights to the Desert Pearl developments and have terminated any agreements with Worldwide Destinations.  They state that: ‘NO company NO individual has any rights to the DESERT PEARL 1 development except that of EL RIAD the sole developer of Desert Pearl 1’.

Meanwhile, Worldwide Destinations seem to have relinquished all of their responsibilities to their clients and, as one angry investor said, ‘you could not see our agents for dust’.  And so, 300 investors were stuck with nowhere to go and no one to turn to, until Rivermead Global Property stepped in.

How Rivermead is supporting Investors

Rivermead had originally sold some of the properties and were helping their own clients to wade through the chaos that was fast unravelling.  However, as time went on and other agents simply walked out on their own clients, Rivermead’s reputation for sticking by their clients was spread by word of mouth.  They went to international law firm Denton Wilde Sapte to resolve the situation.  However, it emerged that the costs for representing each individual would spiral out of control.

Rivermead’s Neil Hollingsworth has now set up the Hurghada Residents Association as the main client in the case and the affected investors have joined as plaintiffs.  Currently, they are helping 150 investors and have set up a forum at as a base for individuals to contact each other and to be kept up to date on news.  As you scroll through some of the posts it is clear the forum doesn’t simply act as a space to convey information.  Many people seek reassurance and comfort, even if only to be set their mind at rest because others are in the same dire situations.

Have you been affected by this development?

If you have been affected by the Desert Pearl development and in need of support, if so please contact us Alternatively feel free to give your opinion and leave a comment …


    RivermeadS have been fantastic and with out them i would have given up all hope of ever seeing my apartment ,if it does not work out i would recommended Neil for his professional and shear hard work ,and if it does work out i will be purchasing my furniture from them

    Great Thanks from john & angela

  • http://hurghadaresidentsassociation Mike Darley

    Without Rivermead’s involvement, I would probably have just walked away from my property investment in Desert Pearl Phase 1, Hurghada. A lot of money to lose yes, but just too much time, travel and effort to try and work out with no help from my agents.

    At least now, with help from Neil, there is a possibility of light at the end of the tunnel.

  • Simon Pettit

    I don’t leave comments or make recommendations, however in this instance I have to; Rivermead has helped me for no financial gain. The owner is selfless and totally honest; I will use Rivermead for anything connected with overseas property or similar and have the highest regard for Neil’s professionalism and business ethos.

  • Samantha Green

    Rivermead have been totally reliable and consistent from start to finish, fantastic in my opinion-I would have absolutely no qualms in putting my trust in someone who has been so honest and proactive in helping us at Desert Pearl- and i didnt even purchase originally through Rivermead- Thanks Neil for all your hard work


  • alex johnstone

    I would highly recommend Neil and his company rivermead global property to anyone buying property abroad.When I had problems with my apartment on Desert Pearl 1Neil came to my aid when my own agent abandoned me. Neil is honest, hard working and very professional and without him I would have given up long ago.THANKS NEIL

  • Giuliano & Carol Vitali

    Although our own Agent rode off into the sunset without a backward glance, Neil steadfastly stuck by all of us, in Desert Pearl 1, Desert Pearl 2 and Coral Sea Pearl, in an effort to help us secure the legal ownership of our apartments. He bought us all together to form the Hurghada Residents Association, so that we had strength in numbers to fight our cause. He even found us a UK International Solicitor, which had a branch in Egypt, to act for us. Sometimes it hasn’t been plain sailing and the set backs would have tried the patience of a Saint but Neil has stayed the course. If anyone is thinking of buying any property abroad, we couldn’t recommend him more. He will not only sell you a property to suit your requirements but,if necessary, will also provide a real after sales service as well. A BIG THANK YOU NEIL.

  • kim and kath

    Likewise for us our agent rode off into the sunset,but he did suggest we join the bandwagon started by Neil and he was dead right.If anyone is considering buying property in the future DO NOT do it with anyone else.We have bought through other agents before we came across Neil and his organisation but never again.Thanks Rivermead.

  • Denise and Iain

    Just wanted to say a huge thank you to Neil at Rivermead for all his help in helping us to secure our apartment. He has done this without any payment and what makes him even more impressive is that we did not buy the apartment off him. Our agent ran away with the money! If you ever want to purchase abroad I would highly recommend Rivermead.

  • Carol Sales

    Although Neil from Rivermead was not our agent, he has been steadfast in his determination to sort this problem out. All help he has given to the residents association is without payment and has taken over his life to large degree, He is really the only persomn I trust in this. All other agents seem to have disappeared into the sunset .
    If you are considering buying abroad, speak to Rivermead first, you will get truth and honesty

  • Neil and Alison Daviidson

    Rivermead Global Properties were not our agents for our purchase in Hurghada Egypt, but our original agent closed down and Neil Hollingsworth took us under his wing and has helped us every step of the way. He responds quickly and efficiently to our many queries and basically gives his usual 110%. We would wholeheartedly recommend Neil to anyone purchasing abroad — He truly is amazing!

  • tony

    thank’s for all your hardwork neil. must admit i would have been lost without you friend, as my agent took is hook along time ago.

  • kim and kath

    3 years ago my partner and I sat down with my mum and dad aged 67 and 77 respectively and talked about a dream we had shared for years. We decided to get an apartment each, my mum & dad a studio my partner and I a one bed in Egypt at the Desert Pearl 1 complex. We were so excited it was one of those things that you often dreamed of doing and we were actually going to do it. Nearly 3 years later the dream has become a nightmare, we dont even know, and are too frightened to go to find out wether our apartments that we have paid to be furnished are still in one piece or have been re sold or just lie empty. The whole episode has made my mother very ill. She has up to now invested £14,500 and got nothing but liars cheats more liars thieves, con men promises upon promises and I am worried that my mum and dads dream will diminish into nothing. Thank God for the incredible work that Neil Hollingsworth and his supporters are doing. It is the only ray of light in a very dark place and is also the only thing that keeps us going. We are so desperate for a conclusion.

  • Bernie Briscombe

    I was told about Desert Pearl Hurghada by an agent I knew personally. I had a holiday in Hurghada Egypt and veiwed the property as it was being built, it looked great. I decided to buy an apartment for my family to enjoy. I paid the required 40% and all appeared ok then I started to see problems on the internet. My agent was telling me all was ok. Then the news of World Wide Destinations owner being involved in a plane crash in Brazil broke. My agent was still telling me all was fine. While browsing the internet I found a web forum devoted to Desert Pearl. Reading the posts it was obvious there were problems even though the posts started to be edited. I then fell upon another forum whih appeared tell it as it was. This is were I first saw the name Neil Hollingsworth. During this period I was going to give up the 40% I had paid. I acutally rang Neil and listening to him made me change my mind. I have never met anybody in my life with as much resiliance as Neil, no matter how some people have tried to put him down he has bounced back. If he had been paid for the work he has put in to helping us, he could have retired by now. If all this goes pear shaped it will not be because of Neil. If ever I was to buy another home abroad Neil would be the first to hear from me. I am sorry this is so long but I had to tell it all.

  • Tim

    Having bought , or at least thought i bought a property in Egypt over 2 years ago everything has sonce turned in to a nightmare. I have never dealt with so many sneaky lying people all trying to take your money off you all pretending to be on ‘your side’

    To this date I still dont know who for definite is responsible but i get the impression it a larre net work of people.

    I can honestly say the only the only person I have trusted through this whole process is neil and he didnt even sell me my property! In the early days you heard people promising things and on a couple of occassions i looked at what they had to say but they ended up like the rest trying to make me pay more money!

    What ever happens in all this – even if i lose my property I have a lot or respect in Neil and the way he has conducted himself and the way he has not given up and to no financial gain to himself.

    Good work neil!

  • carol sales

    In March 2007 I paid 40% deposit on a 3 bed appt in Hurghada through WWD/WWDE, shortly after I paid half the cost of the furniture pack.
    In march this year after being told business as usual WWD was passed to Grant Thornton to be liquidated. Since then I have had mails from El Riad saying my appt is safe, then later found posts on forums saying we will not get these appts.
    In the meantime the furniture company, in danger of going to the wall also, paid us all half of the money we had paid. I have no information about who is responsible for this fiasco.
    Neil has bought us all together with the hurghada residents association and I can honestly say he is the only one I trust in all the people I have dealt with.
    All except him require more money from me with no more or perhaps even less guarentee than we have with HRA.
    If at the end we loose these appts my respect and thanks to Neil will remain. He has given so much of his time with no financial gain and has not given up

  • Mark Colding

    I’m looking to buy property in Hurghada and was searching the internet when i came across this blog. It’s shocking to hear how some people have been treated! It’s nice to see an honest agent looking after you all during this mess.

    Good luck to you all!

  • Sueand Richard Garman

    We heard about this development through an agent who has since left the UK and went straight via WWD. We paid 100%, had furniture installed, paid El Riad another £2000 +, were promised a contract, even had tenants! Following the bullying and harrassment the tenant left and our keys are now apparently at the Police Station! We then heard about HRA and after reading about it decided to join. Even though Neil isn’t our agent he has been absolutely fantastic and we trust him 100%. He’s not doing this for personal gain, he’s doing it because he has standards and obviously integrity. I cannot imagine the man hours he’s put into this on behalf of everyone, but let’s just say, if we to ever consider investing again, Neil would be our only call. A huge heartfelt thanks to Neil and all that he is doing on behalf of us.

  • wayneghosh

    we are in a complete limbo state to the tune of 6k.and although small in comparison to some investors, this has caused untold stress and burden on us as small family with no way of any resolution. As with hurghada village residents, simply giving yet more money to elriad has not worked despite all assurances and recent defending and championing them. I would say the elriad ” at least we’re still here ” excuse is now proving to be very boring and very lame as they are still building more properties and not finishing any of them at all. I would go as far as saying that i would like these guys to stop all together , that way people would not have to put up with the mess they cause . Investing with this shower of cretins is seriously damaging to ones health. I would be delighted if Neil from rivermead would be able help us get back our funds somehow, and although Neil and I have not always seen eye to eye, he has done some hard work trying to remedy the situation or help where possible. I didnt have any sales job from Neil . He simply gave factual information and provided it when asked. Where two people recently told me ” I should have invested directly with elriad” this simply is not the case. WWD were developers delivering this project along with elriad!! They along with wwd are contractually obliged to deliver this project. The point therefore that my investment with elriad is totally irrelevent. It was a simple transaction.. i saw a property on right move… i called neil, he gave me the info i wanted and i made a concious decision to invest. If neil somehow came up trumps for us and we got our deposit back, i would consider investing elsewhere through him and I am happy with the service provided by him.

  • wayne ghosh

    What has further made matters worse is all through 2009 elriad were asking investors of these developments and now my coral sea pearl investment to stump up yet more money , sign contracts that were meaningless to further their own gain, knowing full well that they owed mortgage on land and buildings. Further more, questions need to be asked of those still involved in selling for them. Now i learn that land that coral sea pearl is under ambiguity. People who are being moved to other developments will undoubtedly be suffering a similar fate. is land that lotus breeze on the same?? Are residents of suleder safe? The main issue is Elriad. Are they a construction company or a vehicle to launder money. Time for this company to be stopped from trading.They are irresponsible liars. Stupidly, they have communicated openly in forums and by email. They have told lies for everyone to see.They have sent emails to me telling me my apartment was safe, that signing a contract with them would guarantee this. They told me wwd had paid them money and everything was ok. They sent letters for such to property community. They told everyone wwd never had power of attourney yet sent letters confirming that wwd did. They told me the mortgage was not theirs. They have told me to send them copies of passports and documents and have not used them. The last i know is that coral sea pearl is not being completed. Why they are allowed to trade is anyones guess.
    Time for those involved to get their money back..

  • Jay C

    Neil from Rivermead has been very helpful to me right from the beginning and has never discarded me. He has provided support and information throughout this whole ordeal and deserves all the praise he gets. His customer service is outstanding and he always gets back to me when I have a query. Other Sales People should look at him as exemplary. Thanks Neil. A+++++ Stars!

  • Jayne Knott

    What an utter fiasco. Does anyone actually know if any of these developments are to be completed? I have tried to get answers from everyone involved, el Riad, United Lawyers Egyptian Conculate, British High Commision-no luck, not even acknowledgement.

    If I get anything back, it will certainly not be re-invested in Egypt!!!

  • Neil Hollingsworth

    Hi Jayne, things are progressing however, the land situation on which these three developments are built is a disaster. There are mortgages, court cases, double selling etc… Because of this we have been negotiating with El Riad to find a solution and we are in the process of discussing a swap from Desert Pearl 1, 2 and Coral Sea Pearl to a new development which our solicitors Denton Wilde Sapte (Cairo office) are checking all the documents on to ensure you don’t all end up in the same mess again. It has been 2 years of hard work but I think we are finally getting somewhere, please contact us if you would like further details, we have over 200 other buyers in the same situation as you.

  • pete doolan

    hi. re desert pearl i have read with intrest the comments made and forgetting el riad has anyone who has had the misfourtune to deal with and pay mr morris a lot of money to sort this out managed to get any kind of refund from him or taking him to court to get there money back or the law society to get him struck off?

  • Dominique

    Hi can you please give me the email address of Neil or is facebook nead to speek to him its about lotus breeze and elriad thank you so much Dom

  • Tom Yates

    Dom, you can contact Neil on

  • Marionlikes2teach

    OMG I just now purchased an apartment from these people, and put down 50%. It is supposedly for the extension of desert Pearl 2. I think I have been cheated out of my savings. Now what????

    • Anonymous

      Hello Marion, not quite sure what you have bought so if you would like to email me on with more information we will look into it for you.