Over the last years the Al Habtoor Group, through its holding company Dubai National Investment Co, have embarked on an ambitious one billion-dirham investment programme that will take the Group through to the year 2000.
Under the chairmanship or Mr. Khalaf Al Habtoor, the Group has put into place a strategic development plan that will allow it to keep pace with the rapid economic of the Emirates.
The first phase of the current investment plan was the completion in early 1996 of the Metroplex cinema and entertainment complex on Sheikh Zayed Road, adjoining the Metropolitan Hotel. The complex has three cinema halls with a seating capacity of more than 110, and is the most modern complex in the Emirates, with state-of-the-art digital sound and screening equipment. Over 50 million dirhams were invested to ensure the highest standards of comfort and luxury for the Metroplex’s patrons. The complex also contains an office block and eight entertainment and leisure outlets that cater to a wide variety of tastes.
This was followed by the transformation of the Group’s beach property, the Metropolitan Beach Hotel, into Dubai’s most exclusive and exciting beach resort.
Designed and implemented at a cost of 25 million dirhams, the conversion reflects the beautiful architecture of Andalucian Spain and its languorous air of sophistication, with beautiful landscaped gardens and waterfalls merging into the white sands of the beach. Simultaneously, a 9 million dirham extension was completed at Emirates International School, Dubai’s premier educational establishment, adding another 22 classrooms to the junior school to meet the increasing demand from parents for places.
The current 330 million-dirham phase of development will see the completion this year of the Al Habtoor Group’s new flagship hotel, the Metropolitan Palace. This prestigious five star deluxe development has been costed at over 200 million dirhams. The 213 bedrooms and suites have been divided into three unique styles, Arabic, Far Eastern and European, and will appeal to a wide variety of business and leisure guests. The Palace will have three restaurants, plus extensive conference and banqueting facilities. Other features include a butler service on the Executive Floor, a fully equipped gymnasium and a swimming pool. At cost of US$ 230,000 per room, the Metropolitan Palace will set new standards for the hotel industry in Dubai.
Work will begin this year on the new 130 million-dirham hotel-apartment complex extension at the Metropolitan Hotel. This development will comprise of deluxe furnished one, two and three bedroom apartments, studio flats and a shopping arcade. It will have an attractive atrium that will skillfully unite the hotel, shopping centre, apartment block, leisure facility and Metroplex into one cohesive unit.
Feasibility studies are now underway by DNIC’s Research and Studies Department on future projects that will hopefully see the Group invest another 100 million dirhams in a modern health and leisure resort in the mountains near Hatta, and another 400-million dirham project in Dubai will be proposed for investment this summer. An additional 150 million dirham project to develop an exclusive hotel and shopping centre at Sin El Fil in Beirut, Lebanon. Commenting on the Group’s future projects, Mr. Khalaf Al Habtoor said, “we don’t simply announce projects that may or may not be undertaken; we complete on everything we announce whenever we talk about projects you know you will eventually be able to see and touch them – just examine our track record which proves this.”
This Group’s current investment strategy is a continuation of the policy of planned growth embarked upon since 1990, which has seen the Group’s annual net profits showing impressive growth of 790% and overall net assets increasing by 307%.
This period has also seen the Habtoor Group increase the scope of its business activity into the fields of education (with Emirates International School), real estate (with Emirates Oasis and Al Wasl Village residential developments) and the entertainment (with the completion of the ground breaking Metroplex complex).
Another first was the bold decision to enter the emerging CIS automotive markets car showrooms were opened in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1995, and in 1996, the new company, “Consolidated Automotive” was opened to develop business opportunities in the emerging markets of Central Asia. Consolidated Automotive now control automotive business in Baku, Tbilisi in Georgia, Tashkent in Uzbekistan, and Yerevan in Armenia. Other ventures are the setting up of a new taxi and bus company in Tbilisi, and the establishment of a travel and tourism company to strengthen the links between the UAE and the CIS.
The existing businesses of the Habtoor Group have not stood still, with new motor franchises for Saab, Mack Trucks and Galloper being added to the motors division, the opening of a new showroom in Fujairah, the completion of advanced workshop facilities in the Garhoud and Rahmoul areas of Dubai, and shortly to be completed at a cost of 15 million dirhams, a sophisticated showroom and service centre in Sharjah. The Group’s construction and engineering division has undertaken major landmark projects such as Abu Dhabi Officers’ Club, Dubai Holiday Inn Crown Plaza, the Creek Tower and the Chicago Beach Resort development, along with special hospital projects such as the completion of Dubai Hospital, Al Wasl Hospital and Rashid Hospital.
Mr. Khalaf Al Habtoor credits the success of group to the ability of the management and staff within the organisation. “It has always been part of my business philosophy to empower staff and encourage them to use their initiative to overcome problems and drive the business forward. It is this investment in the most important asset the Group has, its human resources, that is allowing us to grow so rapidly.”
He adds, “Our intention is to enhance our global presence by expanding into new markets, and in line with the Government of Dubai’s enlightened trade policies and encouragement, set up commercial ties with emerging world markets. We want to demonstrate that the Al Habtoor Group is ready to meet the challenges of the future and grow with the UAE. Our motto is ‘The Al Habtoor Group growing with the UAE.”