Hospitality fund launched

28 October 2005
Registration is being finalised with the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) of Serai Capital, a new company being established to manage a portfolio of hotels both within the Middle East and further afield. The hotels will be acquired by the newly formed sharia-compliant Al-Yusr investment fund - already registered in the Isle of Man and legally managed out of the territory. The brand, Serai Hotels & Resorts, will focus on offering an authentically Islamic experience for visitors, particularly catering to women and families.

The fund will be capitalised at $250 million, and over half of the finance has already been raised. 'We have had an overwhelming response from across the MENA [Middle East and North Africa] region,' says Serai Capital's managing director Noor el-Solh. ''There has been a lot of interest from Islamic banks and high-net worth individuals, and the response from the UAE and Saudi Arabia has been particularly strong.' Minimum subscription is $2 million.

Al-Yusr may later be converted to an open-ended fund. A portfolio of about 15 hotels is planned over the next five years, with some taken over from existing operators, some acquired while under construction, and others built specifically for the company. Three sites have been identified in the UAE and two in Egypt, while hotels are also planned in the Far East and Europe to cater to Arab travellers.

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