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Tue 31 Jul 2012 11:42 AM

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I will never invest in Asia, says Al Habtoor

Billionaire chairman of Dubai conglomerate says he has "no trust" in Asian markets

I will never invest in Asia, says Al Habtoor
Khalaf Al Habtoor, chairman of Dubai conglomerate Al Habtoor Group.

Khalaf Al Habtoor, chairman of Dubai conglomerate Al Habtoor Group, said he will never invest in Asian markets due to what he perceives as a lack of transparency, it was reported.

“I have a principle in my life. I will work in a country which I like. I will work in a country which I can reach easily. I will work in a country where there is law and transparency,” he said in an interview with CNBC. "In Asia, I will never go. I have no faith. No trust.”

Al Habtoor, whose assets in Dubai include the Habtoor Grand hotel and three upcoming Starwood Hotels properties on the site of the demolished Metropolitan Hotel, has recently focused his attention on European markets.

In May, Al Habtoor Group acquired Le Meridien Budapest, a five-star hotel in Hungary for around US$80m.

The move to buy the 218-bedroom property brought the number of hotels under the group’s ownership to ten.

Habtoor told CNBC that acquiring further assets in Europe was not proving easy however. “They don't sell. If there is a beautiful hotel, even if with a return of 3 or 4 percent, they don't want to sell it,” he said,

In April, it was announced that Al Habtoor Group signed an agreement with US-based Starwood Hotels and Resorts to open three of its hotels - St Regis, W Dubai and The Westin Dubai Sheikh Zayed Road - at a new US$1.3bn resort in Dubai.

All three of the hotels are set to open in 2017.

Andy 7 years ago

There is a lot more law and transparency in Taiwan and Hong Kong then there is in the UAE and that is for sure. There is no way that you can compare the laws and transparencies in Taiwan and Hong Kong to those in the UAE (Dubai). China on the other hand along with Thailand and Cambodia may be different but there is no way on earth you can compare the laws of Taiwan and Hong Kong to those in Dubai.

I myself am an expat here in Taiwan and have travelled to many countries in the middle-east. Fluent in English,Mandarin (Chinese),Arabic and know the local laws and transparencies in both Taiwan,Hong Kong and Dubai.

In Taiwan we can buy freehold without the need of paying ridiculous community fees to the government (DEWA). Here in Taiwan and Hong-Kong one also does not have to pay ridiculous visa fees/residency fees every year that one has to pay in the UAE. Someone needs to do some more traveling and research before making such a statement because the facts are much different.

Steve 7 years ago

I guess Al Habtoor has to realize that when GCC business men like you invest in Western Countries, the business men from the Western Countries invest in Asia. If you wait till you earn trust like UAE with less competition, then you will be waiting always.

Ron Agnelo Saldanha 7 years ago

Umm, since when is the UAE not a part of Asia?

Asif 7 years ago

Andy, I agree with you completely, there is a lot more law and transparency in some Asian countries than there is in the UAE. People have lost trust in the UAE market since the property bust.

Ali 7 years ago

I am sure we will take your words over a successful man of vision like Al Habtoor.
The fees you pay in the Gulf are a small price for what you get in return: tax free income in a country with blue skies and sunshine throughout the year

Raed 7 years ago

Ya .. You all know and he does not. Funny, he is the one with the money ..

Sikander 7 years ago

It is a free world and it is anyones free choice to invest ones money where ever one like. That one place is better than other is ones perception as there is more foreign investments in China and India than anywhere else in the world.
Khalaf likes western countries and therfore puts his money there even with low or no current returns.

Asif 7 years ago

Ali, the important words here are Law and Transparency. Property Law is still relatively new in the UAE and transparency still needs to be increased. This is fact. Just because he is called Mr. Habtoor, it doesn't mean everything he says is right and by the way, the subject here is property investment not about earning an income. I would rather invest in a country that has grey skies knowing that is laws protecting the investor rather than buying a property in the UAE with blue skies and losing everything, just like thousands did during the property bust of Dubai.

Adnan 7 years ago

Well said Andy. I agree 101 %.

Mr Sheikh 7 years ago

Hang on a minute "lack of transparency in Asia"....... RERA Boss Mr Bin Ghalaita told Arabian Business on 7th December 2010 "There is a limit to transparency" when asked if RERA is going to publish a list of cancelled projects.

See link http://www.arabianbusiness.com/exclusive-there-is-limit-transparency-rera-boss-bin-ghalaita-366071.html

This is why hundreds of thousands of ordinary investors have had their life savings taken by developers without any chance of compensation. RERA supposed to regulate this sector has not done a single thing to assist investors.

I think Asia is far safer region to invest in.