By Conrad Egbert
Joint developers of US $2.7 billion ‘ihottz' to release main construction tender early next year with build to begin in March.
Bids for the main construction package on the US $2.7 billion (AED10 billion) International Hospitality Trade and Training Zone (ihottz) in Ras Al Khaimah will be invited in January next year.
Ras Al Khaimah's Investment and Development Office will develop the zone along with US-based Argentum Development Company. According to the developers, the new zone is expected to become a regional hub for the global hospitality industry.
Spread across 1.4 million m2 of prime real estate, ihottz will include a 1 million m2 hospitality industry free trade zone development and an additional 364,000m2 hospitality education campus.
"It will take about five years to build the education segment and another two to complete the entire project, so we're looking at about seven years for it to be totally completed," said Bobby Batmanghelidj, president and CEO, Argentum Development.
"Tenders for the main construction package will probably go out in January next year with construction starting in March 2008. The project will be built in phases and we're doing it in such a way that those attending school will have the least disturbance by ongoing construction activity."
The Hospitality Training Campus will include a culinary school, an entrepreneurial college, a language and call centre training school, a security and concierge training facility and a 7,500m2 spa and sports training building.
"We chose Ras Al Khaimah for this project because it is an undiscovered jewel in this region. It's less expensive, there's less traffic, but yet it is as good as any other thriving emirate," said Mary Ann Pettorini, executive vice president, Argentum Development Company.
"This is our first project in the UAE and we have many other projects in and around the Washington DC area."