Dubai launches £15.4 bn Bawadi project

The £15.4 billion ‘Bawadi’ hospitality and tourism development project has been unveiled signalling the launch of Dubai’s next major phase in tourism development.

Located in the two billion square foot, £3 billion mixed-use theme park Dubailand, the ground-breaking project will boast the world’s largest hotel as well as the greatest concentration of leading hotels anywhere in the world.  ‘Bawadi’ will add 31 hotels to the emirate’s fast-expanding portfolio of already iconic properties over the next eight years.  The total capacity will be 29,200 rooms of which about a quarter will be five star, some two thirds will be four star, and the remaining rooms will be three star.  12,450 rooms will be in the developer’s own 12 themed hotels.  A further 19 hotels - providing 16,750 rooms - will be developed by external investors.

This will significantly increase the emirate’s hotel capacity which at the end of 2005 had 393 hotels and hotel apartments with a total room capacity of 35,396, an increase of six per cent from 2004.  The increase will generate more capacity for the anticipated growth in visitors to the emirate.  Dubai welcomed over 6.1 million international visitors in 2005 (680,000 from the UK) and is predicting 15 million a year by 2010.

‘Bawadi’s’ centrepiece will be the world’s largest hotel, Asia-Asia, which alone will provide 6,500 rooms - combining 5,100 four star and 1,400 five star rooms.  The project will also become one of the world’s most exciting entertainment and leisure hubs through entertainment centres, shopping malls, theatres, leading hotel brands, restaurants and convention centres.  ‘Bawadi’ will be 10 kilometres long and is expected to host 3.3 million guests by 2016 which in turn represents more than 21 per cent of the total number of tourists that Dubai anticipates by that time.

Developed and managed by Tatweer (part of Dubai Holding), luxurious theme-based hotels such as Desert Gate Hotels & Resorts, Desert Beach Hotel & Resort, Land of Arabia Hotels & Resorts, Wild Wild West Hotels, Africa World Hotels, Europa Hotels & Resorts and Pirate’s Cove Hotels & Resorts will be undertaken.

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The projects will open in five distinct phases in line with the growth of the anticipated tourism inflow to Dubai. Initially five luxury hotels will open by 2010, with a further six to open by 2011. Seven hotels will be completed in 2012, seven in 2013 and the final fifth phase will see six further hotels opening in 2014 bringing the total to 31.

‘Bawadi’ marks Tatweer’s entrance into the hospitality industry in the emirate.  The £15.4 billion investment will comprise £4.6 billion investments from Tatweer in hotel developments, and £1.6 billion in infrastructure investment.  The remaining £9.2 billion is expected to come from investors.  50 per cent of all plots of land available for private development were reserved during the first nine hours of opening, raising £4.6 billion in investment.

“Anticipating the shape of things to come, Dubai is making every effort to build a strong foundation in order to withstand the test of time and meet the requirements of today and the future through the ongoing diversification of the emirate’s economy.  This includes the development of ‘Bawadi’ and many other innovative and successful projects,” said Bärbel Kirchner, director of the UK and Ireland office of Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

“With relentless optimism and bold leadership the emirate steers a course that ensures it is always a step ahead of expectations of the increasingly demanding global citizen. Against many odds, this once tiny emirate never loses sight of what it can become.  This conviction and optimism secures the support of the global community be it investors or visitors to the emirate,” she continued.

Dubai’s booming hospitality industry is maintaining its growth with the emirate’s ever-expanding portfolio of hotels and hotel apartments posting impressive room occupancies after closing the first three quarters of 2005 with the world’s highest occupancy rate of 86 per cent - followed by New York (83%) and Singapore (80%).  The emirate also boasts the world’s highest RevPar (revenue generated per available hotel room) at US$175.47 according to Deloitte and Smith Travel Research’s ‘Global Lodging Review’.  Second is New York (US$163.32), and Paris third (US$169.53).

“Occupancy levels are at an all time high for Dubai’s hotels, particularly in the beach properties. However, the diversity of first-class hotel options in the city makes it easy to select an alternative property at peak times if a preferred hotel is not available,” concluded Kirchner.
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