Dubai’s Al-Habtoor eyes hotel and leisure business in Saudi Arabia

The Al-Habtoor Group recently broke relations with Marriott International which was managing a major new project on the Dubai Canal. (Shutterstock)
Updated 05 August 2018

Dubai’s Al-Habtoor eyes hotel and leisure business in Saudi Arabia

  • Al-Habtoor Group, the Dubai-based hotelier and leisure group, is considering a big move into Saudi Arabia
  • Hotels and leisure developments are a major element of the economic transformation of Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: Al-Habtoor Group, the Dubai-based hotelier and leisure group, is considering a big move into Saudi Arabia to take advantage of the new entertainment opportunities available under the Vision 2030 transformation.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Mohammed Al-Habtoor, chief executive and vice chairman of the family-owned conglomerate, said he was planning a fact-finding mission to the Kingdom soon and was already in contact with potential business partners there.

“We have done business there in the past, but now there is more and more news and events happening there. I’ve learned more about Saudi Arabia in the past year than ever before. I’m planning a fact-finding mission there soon to go around the Kingdom and see the opportunities for myself.

 

“I will not just be in Riyadh, but in the big tourism areas outside too. I see big potential for the hospitality business there. We are in contact with potential business partners and plan to take it further after the summer. Saudi is very interesting for us. It is the biggest market in the region and Al-Habtoor is a well known name there. Saudis know it from their leisure visits to Dubai. We will definitely be doing more business there in the future,” he said.

Hotels and leisure developments are a major element of the economic transformation of Saudi Arabia, which is seeking to diversify away from oil dependency. Projects such as NEOM, the Red Sea Resort and Al-Qiddiya present big business opportunities for leisure companies as the Kingdom aims to keep more tourist riyals in the country, rather than being spent abroad.

Al-Habtoor also revealed that the group — which has other interests in automotive sales, real estate and education in addition to hotels in the Middle East, Europe and the US — was still considering an initial public offering of shares on a stock market. It got close to an IPO three years ago, but eventually decided against going public.

“We’ve been looking at it as a possibility for 20 years or so. All the time, we are looking at the figures and talking to investment bankers. It was a good decision three years ago not to go for an IPO, but maybe we’ll look at it again when the whole region is more stable.

“We’re always thinking about it, and we’ll think again. There is cash and liquidity in the region, which are essential for an IPO. There will be a Al-Habtoor IPO sooner or later, the only question is when,” he added.

FASTFACTS

Al-Habtoor's origins

Al-Habtoor started life as a small engineering firm in 1970 before growing into a vast conglomerate with a global network of hotels.


Kuwait MPs launch probe into Airbus deal

Updated 19 February 2020

Kuwait MPs launch probe into Airbus deal

  • The decision came after a debate on allegations that Airbus paid kickbacks to secure a deal 6 years ago
  • The parliament also asked the finance ministry to review recent aircraft deals involving state-owned Kuwait Airways

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait's parliament on Wednesday formed a fact-finding panel to probe alleged kickbacks in a deal between the national carrier and Airbus, which last month paid massive fines to settle bribery scandals.
The parliament's decision came after a special debate on allegations that Airbus paid kickbacks to secure a 25-aircraft deal six years ago.
It also asked the Audit Bureau, the state accounting watchdog, to investigate the deal, which was reportedly worth billions of dollars, although exact figures were never released.
Kuwait Airway Co. in 2014 ordered 15 Airbus 320neo and 10 Airbus 350, with delivery beginning last year and continuing until 2021.
Opposition lawmaker Riyadh al-Adasani told the session that Kuwait was mentioned in a settlement struck by Airbus in a British court on January 31, along with the names of some Kuwaiti officials and citizens.
Under the settlement, Airbus agreed to pay 3.6 billion euros ($3.9 billion) in fines to Britain, France and the United States to settle corruption probes into some of its aircraft sales.
Days after the settlement, Sri Lanka ordered an investigation into a multi-billion dollar aircraft purchase from Airbus after the deal was named in the settlement.
The former chief of Sri Lankan Airlines, Kapila Chandrasena, was arrested on February 6 for allegedly receiving bribes relating to the deal.
Earlier this month, two senior officials of the Malaysia-based AirAsia stepped aside while authorities probe unusual payments at the carrier, as the fallout from the Airbus scandal reverberated across the industry.
Kuwait in recent years also initiated criminal investigations into two large military aircraft deals involving Airbus -- a $9 billion Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes deal and a contract for 30 Caracal military helicopters costing $1.2 billion.