Local hospitality group Jumeirah International (JI), a subsidiary of Dubai Holding, is aiming to increase its hotel portfolio to 40 properties by 2010, the company’s chief executive officer (CEO) Gerald Lawless said on 21 June. ‘We are closing in on a number of projects, but are not close enough to say where just yet,’ said Lawless.

The growth plan follows JI’s merger last November with Dubai Holding. The merger has enabled the hospitality group to work in tandem with other Dubai Holding subsidiaries, such as property developer Dubai International Properties and investment arm Dubai International Capitalto accelerate plans for expansions and acquisitions.

JI manages six hotels in Dubai, including the landmark Burj al-Arab and two properties in London. Lawless confirmed the group was seeking to operate 25 properties outside the emirate with the remainder in the city. Key target areas include Paris, London, Shanghai, Beijing, Sydney and resort locations such as the Maldives and South Africa. ‘We expect to have between 15,000-20,000 extra rooms,’ he said.

JI had been negotiating to buy the Intercontinental Paris, although the deal has fallen through. The group is still actively seeking a property in the French capital.

Lawless said that the firm planned to become the world’s leading luxury hotel group to compete with hotel brands Four Seasonsand Mandarin Oriental. The company will invest about AED 30 million ($8 million) over the next nine months in launching its new brand name Jumeirah.