Flavio Briatore launches $150m ‘Billionaire’s Square’ in Dubai

Italian businessman ties up with Lebanon-based Pragma Group to build lifestyle venue in Media City
Flavio Briatore launches $150m ‘Billionaire’s Square’ in Dubai
Flavio Briatore
By Ed Attwood
Wed 10 Nov 2010 12:34 PM

Italian business personality Flavio Briatore will launch a $150m ‘Billionaire’s Square’ in Dubai in conjunction with Lebanon's Pragma Group.

The project will consist of a boutique hotel, as well as a Billionaire Bar and Grill, alongside other restaurants, bars and a fitness club.

Billionaire’s Square will be built on the current site of the Palladium entertainment venue in Dubai Media City, and is scheduled for full completion in December next year.

“I believe Dubai is one of the strategic places for us - we try to have a club in a place where people go on holiday as well and Dubai is great mix of business and holiday,” Briatore told Arabian Business.

Pragma Group said the 45-suite boutique hotel will be run by “a famous brand” although that deal is still to be finalised. It will target the mid to upper segment of the market, its chairman added.

"We have appointed the lead architectural consultant, MZ Architects, and we’re in the process of appointing the full contractor,” said Pragma Group chairman Joe Tabet.

“We’ve just been looking at the financials, and we will be turning a profit in the first year [of operations].”

Tabet said that the cost of renovation on the current Palladium site would be “in the neighbourhood” of $60m. The last events at the venue will be held between 10 and 15 December, after which construction on Billionaire’s Square will begin.

The Pragma Group bought the Palladium site in June, and spent the summer carrying out financial and market research on its proposed project.

When questioned as to whether his company had taken on the rumoured debts of the previous owners, Tabet said: “I don’t think there are issues with any of the contractors or subcontractors, but whatever we could discover from the due diligence exercise that we’ve undertaken, we’re honouring all those commitments to suppliers, yes.”

Lifestyle investment firm Pragma Group has built up a number of brands in the Middle East from its original base in Lebanon. It already operates a number of lifestyle destinations in Dubai, including the Cavalli Club in the Fairmont and the 400 Club.

Briatore already has a Billionaire boutique in Dubai Mall. There are no current plans to open a similar boutique in the new project, although the businessman did not rule out the option for the future. 

The former Formula One team boss launched the Billionaire brand in 1998, and owns a club in Sardinia under the same name. He also has a stake in the English Queens Park Rangers football team.

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