Qatar firm eyes $500m spend on Turkish 'dry' hotels

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Arab tourists in Turkey.

Arab tourists in Turkey.

A Qatar-based hospitality company is set to invest at least $500m in Turkish hotels operating under Islamic traditions.

Semi state-owned Retaj Marketing and Project Management is looking to build multiple hotels to attract conservative Muslim holidaymakers in Turkey, according to the Anatolia news agency.

The hotels would operate on Islamic principles, with no alcohol or smoking allowed.

The news agency quoted Mohamed Johar, a board member of the company, as saying Turkey's economic achievements in the past decade had played the biggest role in convincing Retaj to invest.

"Inspired by this development, we have taken the decision to invest in Turkey,” he said, adding that Retaj was also interested in joint investments with Turkish businesses in other countries.

Johar was quoted as saying the company is engaged in talks with Turkish construction company Koray  to carry out the planned projects in Turkey.

He added that Istanbul was likely be the location for one hotel while the northwestern province of Bursa may be another but a final decision on locations was yet to be made.

Last month, Retaj revealed ambitious plans to expand to 20 hotels across the Middle East region over the next five years.

Retaj currently operates four hotels in Doha - Retaj Al Reyyan; Retaj Residence and Retaj Residence-Sharq; and Retaj Al Ghanem.

Ahmed Khorshed, regional sales & marketing, Retaj said demand for ‘dry’ hotels in Qatar was booming.

“In the beginning it was very hard to predict if there would be demand for creating such a hotel in Doha. But we have found that the demand for ‘Islamic’ hotels is more than at regular hotels. For example the year-to-date occupancy in Doha hotels is 63 percent, whereas the occupancy at our hotels is 87 percent.”

The company recently signed a deal to take over a five-star hotel in front of the Islamic Museum in Doha.

The 107-room hotel will open in two months and will be called Retaj Royal. Plans are now in the pipeline to expand the brand across the region, beginning with the UAE and Kuwait in 2012.

“Our plan for the next five years is to reach 20 hotels in the Middle East. We want to open in Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah; as well as Egypt, Malaysia, Turkey and Indonesia – any country that can accept the Islamic way of running a hotel.”

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