Dubai’s Jumeirah eyes Saudi mega-projects

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Updated 24 January 2020

Dubai’s Jumeirah eyes Saudi mega-projects

  • NEOM and Red Sea scheme high on group’s ‘address’ list, CEO tells Arab News

DAVOS: Jumeirah, the leading hotels and leisure group in the Middle East, is planning big developments in Saudi Arabia’s “mega-projects,” CEO Jose Silva told Arab News on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos.

“We must be in those locations, but I want to make sure we get the right ‘address.’ Jumeiah always wants to be among the top three sites on any location. If someone convinces me this is the right address, I will jump into it,” he said.

Silva made clear he was thinking primarily about the two big development on the Kingdom’s west coast — the NEOM metropolis and the Red Sea project further south along the coast. He is believed to be in contact with Saudi Arabian tourism authorities and potential partners in the Kingdom.

Silva also said that Jumeirah was keen to open hotels in Makkah and Madinah, which he called “preferred entry” points in the Kingdom. Work has already begun on two sites.

“It is very important for us to acquire the right assets and the right designers. Unless we control the architect, we will not do it. We have to be involved in the design process,” he said.

A big presence in Saudi Arabia would be part of the strategy of “going global” that Silva has advanced in his first two years a head of the UAE-based hotels, leisure and restaurants business, which is owned by the government
of Dubai.

Last year, Jumeirah bought the Capri Palace on the eponymous Italian island, and is also involved in a major expansion plan in Asia, with six new projects underway in China, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Silva is also overseeing a $100 million renovation of the Carlton hotel in London’s Belgravia. Expansion via luxury hotel properties in other European capitals is also being considered.

In Dubai, he has brought in world-class managers to restaurants in the group’s flagship properties in Madinat and Burj Al Arab, with a clutch of “celebrity chefs” in place in restaurants there. 

“We want to be the best brand for ‘destination dining’,” he said.


Oman’s sultan says government will work to reduce debt

Updated 54 min 11 sec ago

Oman’s sultan says government will work to reduce debt

DUBAI: Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said said on Sunday the government would work to reduce public debt and restructure public institutions and companies to bolster the economy.
Haitham, in his second public speech since assuming power in January, said the government would create a national framework to tackle unemployment while addressing strained public finances.
"We will direct our financial resources in the best way that will guarantee reducing debt and increasing revenues," he said in the televised speech.
"We will also direct all government departments to adopt efficient governance that leads to a balanced, diversified and sustainable economy."
Rated junk by all three major credit rating agencies, Oman's debt to GDP ratio spiked to nearly 60% last year from around 15% in 2015, and could reach 70% by 2022, according to S&P Global Ratings.
The small oil producing country has relied heavily on debt to offset a widening deficit caused by lower crude prices. Also, the late Sultan Qaboos, who ruled Oman for nearly 50 years, held back on austerity measures.
The country has delayed introducing a 5% value added tax from 2019 to 2021, and economic diversification has been slow, with oil and gas accounting for over 70% of government revenues.
Last week, rating agency Fitch said Oman was budgeting for a higher deficit of 8.7% for 2020 despite its expectation of further asset-sale proceeds and some spending cuts.
"We are willing to take the necessary measures to restructure the state's administrative system and its legislation," Haitham said in his first speech since the mourning period for Qaboos ended, without elaborating.
He said there would be a full review of government companies to improve their business performance and competence.
Oman observers have said that if Haitham moves to decentralise power it would signal willingness to improve decision making. Like Qaboos, he holds the positions of finance minister and central bank chairman as well as premier, defence and foreign minister.