Interview: Saudi Arabia's Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Al Hokair

Dubbed ‘the sheikh of Gulf tourism’, Abdul Mohsen Al Hokair has been running hotels and entertainment centres for nearly half a century. In an exclusive interview, the owner of the Al Hokair Group says the firm is ratcheting up its expansion plan in light of the region’s strong economy.

Visit Saudi Arabia for business or leisure and chances are the Al Hokair Group will be responsible for some aspect of your stay.

Split between hotel and entertainment divisions, the company — founded by entertainment and leisure pioneer Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Al Hokair in 1965 — services about 15 million visitors a year at 27 hotels in Saudi Arabia, plus two in the UAE. It also has 51 entertainment centres in both countries as well as India.

It’s been a fast-paced growth trajectory, with Al Hokair expanding geographically as well as in the scale and profile of projects since it launched a small park in Lebanon almost 50 years ago.

And it’s clearly just getting started.

“We are looking at investments in the MENA region on the whole. Qatar, Oman and Egypt are on the radar now. We believe there exists a strong potential and demand in these markets for high-quality family entertainment,” Sheikh Abdul, who oversees 5,000 employees as chairman of Al Hokair Group, tells Arabian Business.

Last month, Al Hokair, which had saw turnover worth SR2bn ($533.28m) in 2012, opened its first indoor family entertainment centre (FEC) in Dubai and the eighth in the UAE since it entered the market in 2008.

The AED30m ($8.17m) centre at Al Ghurair Mall, which comes under its UAE flagship brand Sparky’s, precedes another Sparky’s opening in Fujairah in the second quarter of 2014 and is part of the conglomerate’s AED150m ($40.84m) planned investment blitz in the UAE in the next two years.

Al Hokair vice president, marketing and business development Mishal Abdul Mohsen Al Hokair, Sheikh Abdul’s son and an heir apparent to the family business, says that after 14.3 percent revenue growth in 2013, it expects this to increase to 20 percent in 2014.

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