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.


Egypt signs lucrative gas deals

Updated 12 min 55 sec ago

Egypt signs lucrative gas deals

  • Five agreements were signed during the last fiscal year

CAIRO: The Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) has signed eight research and exploration agreements with investments of $934 million.

Five agreements were signed during the last fiscal year and three others during the first quarter of this fiscal year.

Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek El-Molla said that the integrated strategy adopted by the ministry to develop Egypt’s natural gas resources has succeeded in recording the highest rates of natural gas production in the history of the country, achieving gas self-sufficiency and resuming exports.

He said that natural gas plays a significant role in achieving economic returns, in addition to attracting new international companies to work in the field of research and exploration in Egypt.

El-Molla said a project to transform Egypt into a regional center for the handling and trade of gas and oil is being planned.

The minister stressed the importance of implementing the national project for providing natural gas to all Egyptian governorates and citizens.

Magdy Galal, EGAS head, reviewed the development of natural gas production rates during the past five years and the efforts to confront the natural decrease of wells.

He said that during the recent fiscal year, the company signed a total of five agreements. On top of the $934 million in investments, there were also signing grants worth $51 million.

He added that the company has 37 ongoing agreements, a result of a Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources strategy, which attracted new investments and the entry of Exxon Mobil and Chevron in the field of research and exploration in Egypt, and an increase in investments from companies such as Shell and Total.

He said the company is finalizing six other agreements with investments of $731 million and $14 million in signing grants.