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Jun 23 2010

Saudi prince invests $1.5b in Lebanon

23 June 2010

BEIRUT: Chairman of the Kingdom Holding Company ( KHC ), Saudi Prince Al-Walid Bin Talal pledged on Tuesday to support the Lebanese economy during the coming years and said that his total investments in Lebanon will amount to $1.5 billion.

“My investments in the tourism sector in Lebanon amount to $0.5 billion in addition to other investments in the media and banking sectors,” he said during the opening of the Four Seasons Hotel , adding that the projects totaled $1.5 billion.

The opening took place in the presence of President Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Speaker Nabih Berri, in addition to other prominent political figures.

KHC is one of world’s largest and most diversified private investment companies, with holdings in a large number of Saudi Arabian, Middle Eastern and International companies. In particular, KHC is a leading hotel investor, with a portfolio of hotels and majority interests in international hotel management companies.

KHC owns a 47.5 percent in the administration of the Four Seasons Hotels which is one of the world’s leading managers of luxury hotels and resorts with a portfolio of 74 luxury hotels and resort properties containing 18,090 guest rooms as of March 2007.

These properties are marketed under the brand name Four Seasons in 30 countries.

KHC also has a stake in Movenpick hotels and resorts which opened in Lebanon during 2002 as well. “We also have a share in the Movenpick Hotel in Beirut and we are planning to keep on investing in this sector in the future,” Talal said.

He added that the inauguration of the Four Seasons Hotel in Beirut reflects the continuous growth of Lebanon’s hospitality sector.

“These projects highly contribute to the economic growth in Lebanon and create a lot of job opportunities for the Lebanese youths,” he said. “They will also increase investors’ confidence in the Lebanese economy.”

Bank Audi Chairman Raymond Audi said on the same day but during a different occasion that the hospitality industry in Lebanon provides around 200,000 job opportunities. “It employs 38 percent of the total labor in the country,” he said.

He added that hotel reservations reached 73 percent during 2009, an increase of 20 percent compared to the year 2008.

The recent political and security stability in the country, according to Audi, is attracting a lot of investors and Lebanon is expected to witness the opening of 20 new international hotels that are currently under construction which will add 1100 additional rooms.

Lebanese Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud previously told local newspapers that he expects tourism activity in the country to grow by a further 10 to 20 percent in 2010.

During his speech, Talal praised Leila El Solh who is the vice Chairman of Alwaleed Bin Talal Humanitarian Foundation in Beirut, for her continuous efforts in supporting the social sector in Lebanon.

“She is always keen on supporting and offering the foundation’s services to all the Lebanese regardless of their religion or sect,” she said.

He concluded his speech by promising to support Lebanon in the future and during its time of prosperity the way he was supporting it in its difficult time.

© Copyright The Daily Star 2010.


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