Majid Al Futtaim, a holding company based in Dubai, is planning to invest approximately Dh30 billion (that's $8.1 billion in U.S. dollars) in the UAE by 2026, taking its total investment in the Emirates to Dh48 billion.
Investment plans include six hotels across the UAE, as well as 10 malls, 28 movie theaters, supermarkets and a master-planned community (that is, itself, expected to attract more hotel development).
According to CEO Alain Bejjani, the company is looking to have the majority of these investments in place before the Dubai Expo 2020.
The half-a-dozen new hotels will include a luxury property at the Mall of the Emirates, two at Mirdif City Centre, one at Deira City Centre and two at the new Al Zahia mall in Sharjah.
Majid Al Futtaim properties CEO Robert Welanetz said that an operator has not yet been selected for the six hotels. “The properties would be ready for operation from 2019 to 2021,” he said.
Back in April, hotels CEO Simon Barlow announced "numerous plans" to add more hotels to the company's existing malls in Dubai, naming the locations that have been selected for investment. At the time, Barlow suggested several operators for these upcoming properties: “Historically, there has been a strong relationship with AccorHotels [and] with Starwood. We recently launched a relationship with Hilton, and our relationship has been more than 10 years with the Kempinski Group…In addition to these, we are in talks with other management companies, and we are also in talks with our four existing operators to bring their other brands.”
AccorHotel manages six of MAF's properties, while Starwood manages three and Hilton manages one.
When the new hotels open, they will bring the company’s total number of rooms to 4,800. The firm currently has 12 hotels in operation, 10 of which are in Dubai and two in Bahrain.
Hotels, retail and leisure are also proposed for the new master planned community, which is in development on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed City, close to the Global Village complex. Bejjani said that this project might take "slightly longer" to complete than the others. “We’ve just acquired the land. We didn’t do this announcement until we acquired the land because it’s very important for us that every component of this Dh30bn is clearly identified," he said. “We have a pre-concept plan, then we are going to move ahead with approvals."
Bejjani declined to give details of how MAF would finance this new investment plan, but did say that the company was committed to maintaining its current credit rating. “Our plans are well-thought, well-funded and we will take advantage of any opportunities in the market," he said.
Bejjani said he was not concerned about overcapacity in the market, citing growing population and tourism numbers. “There are very clear growth trends in the market that we are going to take advantage of, but quality is important and experience is important," he said.