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Arabian Hotel Investment Conference

Lifetime Achievement Award to Khalaf Al Habtoor at AHIC 2013

Global hospitality leaders say investors’ confidence in the MENA region is back. Investors see hospitality as a safe haven, and Africa becoming the new Asia with more investment opportunities.

DUBAI, UAE – The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC 2013) geared up even more global hospitality leaders in its second day, with Patron HE Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Airports and President of Dubai Dept for Civil Aviation, Chairman and CEO of Emirates, handing ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ to Khalaf Al Habtoor, Chairman of Al Habtoor Group.

AHIC 2013 advisory board chose Mr. Al Habtoor to receive this Award, for his invaluable contribution to the region’s hotel industry. He has also played a major role in driving the tourism industry forward in the UAE, by meeting the growing demand of the number of tourists with significant hotel projects.

Throughout the day, more valuable panel discussions took place, starting with a panel discussion that discussed the large scale developments contributing to destination creation and new investment opportunities. The panel included Ahmed Al Fahim, Executive Director of TDIC, who said that people started to have more confidence in the market again, and that property market is picking up again. Al Fahim also mentioned that there are currently 6 more hotels being built along the beach front in Abu Dhabi.

Emphasizing on this, Jennifer Fox, President of Fairmont Hotels and Resorts said: “This year we are on an aggressive growth strategy which will see us, in the next 5 years, with 31 hotels either open or under construction, spread among Fairmont, Swissotel and Raffles Hotels. We are very excited about the Middle East region and the growth of our 3 brands here and internationally.”

Talking to AHIC audience about hotel investment opportunities and anticipated returns on a global level, Arthur W. de Haast, Chairman Hotels and Hospitality Group of Jones Lang LaSalle, also said that investors consider hotel investment as a safe haven. During his presentation at ‘Hotel Hot Spots Panel Discussion’ at AHIC 2013, Arthur mentioned that Q1 this year has witnessed a very strong start, with 70% increase in hotel investments worldwide compared to 2012, mainly driven by US and Europe projects, where investment flaws in North America reached 13.5 Billion USD and Asia reaching  2.4 Billion USD.

Sarmad Zok, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Kingdom Hotel Investments who was in discussion with Arther said that Africa is making it into the boardroom, and that it’s considered the most untapped potential at the moment, similar to Asia 30 years ago. This is due to a number of factors, including political stability and corporate governance and resources, taken much more seriously

“We are growing our portfolio in emerging markets, where Kingdom Hotels currently possessing 3.5 Billion USD of assets, and investing a further 13 to 15 Billion USD in these markets. We have made strategic attempts to establish a footprint in these markets” Zok said

Further announcements made throughout the day included penning two major hotels for The Rezidor Hotel Group, namely Radisson Blue Residence which will be opened in Dubai in 2014, and the Park Inn by Radisson Hotel and Residence opening in Duqm in Oman this year.

Wolfgang M. Neumann, President and CEO of The Rezidor Hotel Group commented saying: “We have great team built around great brands; the future for Rezidor looks bright. We are focusing more on the MENA region, and we currently have 30 hotels in operation and 15 in the pipeline.”

AHIC 2013 closing tonight with a networking reception hosted by IFA Hotel Investments at Fairmont The Palm, included key participants such as Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, IHG, Jumeirah Group, Corinthia Hotels, Hilton Worldwide, IFA Hotel Investments, Marriott International, Moroccan Agency for Tourism Development – SMIT, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Wyndham Worldwide, ACCOR, Aecom, Argentina National Institute of Tourism Promotion, Citymax Hotels, Digivalet, Ernst & Young, Fairmont Raffles Hotels International, Golden Tulip Hotels, Suites & Resorts MENA , HVS, JA Resorts & Hotels, Jones Lang LaSalle, Kenya Tourist Development Corporation, Melia Hotels International, Anantara, Orient Express Hotels, Premier Inn, Quadriga, Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities, STR Global, Turnkey Ventures and WATG.

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