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Al Habtoor Group (AHG) is spicing up Dubai's residential and hospitality landscape with new projects worth close to Dh2 billion, including one particularly close to the Al Habtoor family's heart — polo.
The mega investment encompasses the Al Habtoor Polo Club and Resort, Metropolitan Shaikh Zayed Road hotel and Oasis Villas residential compound.
''Our slogan is to grow with the UAE,'' said Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Founder and Chairman of AHG. ''We build proving the trust we have in our country as a safe multicultural and comfortable place with modern infrastructure. We all grow together as one.''
Taking the family's passion for polo a step further, Al Habtoor also revealed plans to build a polo academy and a stable for polo horses at the Al Habtoor Polo Club and Resort.
Spread over close to 21 million sq m in Dubailand along Emirates Road and just behind The Villa community, the project designed by WS Atkins will also have four polo fields, riding arenas and a five-star hotel with around 136 rooms and 162 luxury bungalows.
''This will be like heaven,'' said Al Habtoor. ''I will probably stay there myself.''
Mohammed Al Habtoor, Vice-Chairman and CEO of AHG, added: ''There are many polo organizations in Dubai and they don't have all their horses in one place because there's no centralised facility similar to what we will be providing. Each of our ten barns has 50 boxes and half of these have already been reserved verbally.''
Mohammed Al Habtoor said the other half is available for the horse-riding school and show jumping and dressage horses. He also wants to raise the bar in these disciplines by holding local and international events.
''Guests will be able to watch polo matches from their rooms or on the terraces of our four food and beverage offerings,'' said Mohammed Al Habtoor. ''The polo fields will come online by the end of next year, the equestrian centre and stables will be ready by mid-2016 and the hotel and bungalows by early 2017.''
Khalaf Al Habtoor also said it is was fitting to revive the Metropolitan hotel as the group approaches its 45th anniversary. The Metropolitan was one of Dubai's oldest hotels and was also the group's first hospitality venture in 1979. It was demolished to give way to Al Habtoor City, a mixed-use development commissioned in 2012.
The Metropolitan's new location is still along Shaikh Zayed Road, but it is now near the Al Thanya Road junction. The developer said some of the hotel's old spirit will be revived, such as the much-loved Red Lion pub.
The new, stylish look of the hotel is credited to designers Khatib and Alami. It will feature a lobby and outdoor café, a Don Corleone Italian restaurant, meeting and event spaces and a pool and gym. The four-star property will have 334 rooms and suites and is expected to open in 2016.
Right next to the property is what was once the Emirates Oasis compound, which was also demolished to make way for the Oasis Villas. The new upmarket residential complex will have 74 four- to six-bedroom units, with sizes ranging from 246-345 sq m.
The residences will have an elegant white design, while residents can enjoy a community pool, gym, children's playground and jogging track. The largest villas will each have their own private swimming pools.
Ideally located close to Al Habtoor's Emirates International School — Jumeirah, the villas are expected to be available for lease in 2016.
In terms of financing, the developer said it has the funds to build the projects.
''Our revenue growth over the past three years was 37 per cent, with an annual revenue growth rate of 12.5 per cent, and our total net worth jumped by 20 per cent over the past three years and 7 per cent annually,'' said Khalaf Al Habtoor.
However, he denied rumours about an impending initial public offering (IPO).
''We always think of new opportunities and have been looking at an IPO for more than 22 years now, but there is no need for the time being to consider it,'' he said.
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Source: Nicole Walter, Special to Property Weekly