Gulf set for world’s longest hotel strip

Dubai is to build the world’s largest hotel, at the heart of what will become the world’s longest hotel strip.

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By  Andrew White Published  May 7, 2006

Dubai is to build the world’s largest hotel, at the heart of what will become the world’s longest hotel strip. The Dh100 billion (US$27 billion) hospitality and tourism development, called Bawadi, will be spread over 139 million square feet in Dubailand - and will nearly double the number of hotel rooms currently available in the emirate. The 10km-long strip will feature 31 leading hotels, offering a total of 29,200 rooms and more than 100 theatres and 1500 restaurants. The development will also house a series of entertainment complexes, shopping malls, and convention centres. The project was unveiled by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, and is intended to help Dubai accommodate the 15 million tourists it aims to attract by 2012. By contrast, the emirate attracted six million pleasure seekers in 2005. Bawadi is to be developed and managed by Tatweer, a member of Dubai Holding, and the completed project will boast the largest concentration of luxury hotels anywhere in the world. “Tourism as an industry plays a major part in the economic development of this country, and this project was instructed to be developed by H.H. Sheikh Mohammed about a year ago,” revealed Saeed Al Muntafiq, CEO of Tatweer. “Strategically this development represents a significant platform in the development of tourism in the emirate, in terms of growing capacity, and will confirm Dubai as one of the world’s premier destinations,” he continued. “Not only will the Bawadi project help to stimulate direct growth in the tourism industry in the UAE, but it will also act as a strong catalyst to tourism dependent industries… and the corporate travel business.” At the heart of Bawadi will stand the world’s largest hotel, Asia-Asia. The hotel will feature 6500 rooms, comprising 5100 four-star and 1400 five-star rooms. Asia-Asia is part of phase one of the development, and as such will be completed by 2010, at hotel and infrastructure costs of US$3.2 billion to Tatweer. Tatweer expects to invest around US$11 billion in the Bawadi project, with the remaining US$16 billion coming from other investors. Of the Tatweer commitment, US$8.2 billion will be allocated towards developing hotels, whilst the rest will be raised through the company’s private equity and debt, and is earmarked for infrastructure. Tatweer does not intend to resort to bond issues or public offerings. “[Bawadi] is expected to host 3.3 million guests by 2016, which in turn will represent more than 21% of the total number of tourists that Dubai expects to host by that time,” confirmed Al Muntafiq. Tatweer will develop a series of luxurious theme-based hotels such as the Desert Gate Hotels & Resorts, the Wahat Alkuttab Hotels, the Desert Beach Hotel & Resort, the Land of Arabia Hotels & Resorts, the Wild Wild West Hotels, the Africa World Hotels, the Europa Hotels & Resorts and the Pirate’s Cove Hotels & Resorts. The hotel projects are outlined according to a five-phase plan, which aims to keep pace with the remarkable growth of tourism in Dubai. Initially, five luxury hotels will open by 2010, with a further six openings scheduled for 2011. Another seven will be completed in each of 2012 and 2013, and the final phase will see a further six hotels opening in 2014. Of the total 29,200 rooms, 12,450 will be a part of Tatweer’s 12 themed hotels, with the remaining 16,750 rooms being developed by investors through the construction of the other 19 hotels. “The launch of this project effectively signals the next major phase in tourism development in Dubai as we look forward to the next eight years of major growth,” said Al Muntafiq. For the past year, negotiations have been taking place with a number of major hotel groups, he added. He also revealed that “discussions have been held with several prospective local and global investors and joint venture partners.” Dubai Holding is the umbrella company for some of Dubai's biggest and boldest business and development ventures.

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