‘The aim of the new brand is to give travellers an authentic taste of the region, and also to cater to the underserved intra-regional travel market,’ said Mohamed Hammour, executive chairman of GFG. ‘We have been working on this plan for more than 18 months. Eventually, it could become an international brand, but the active pipeline of projects covers Cairo, Dubai, Muscat and Sharjah. At an earlier stage are plans for hotels in Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Doha and Tunisia.’
The hotels will be in the four- to five-star range, and are anticipated to be either greenfield properties or facilities under construction.
‘We don’t anticipate taking over existing hotels,’ said Hammour. Kempinski will continue to expand in the region under its established brand. ‘There is no conflict of interest,’ said Christopher Hartley, chief executive officer of Shaza Hotels. ‘The two brands are seeking different audiences we are not cannibalising our own business.’ Dubai-based RSP Group is acting as real estate and hospitality adviser.
The anticipated life of the investment fund is eight years, after which an initial public offering (IPO) is due to be staged, probably through the Dubai International Financial Exchange (DIFX). A project manager for the hotel construction programme is due to be appointed imminently.