By Andy Sambidge
Tony Fernandes, of Air Asia, F1's Lotus fame, sees opportunities for Tune Group in Gulf
Tune Group, a Malaysia-based conglomerate founded by Tony Fernandes, the man behind Air Asia and F1 team Lotus, has joined forces with a prominent Qatari businessman to set up a Middle East unit, based in Doha.
Tune Middle East has been set up in partnership with Mohamed Al Saad and will look at investing in a range of business ventures in Qatar, the GCC and the MENA region.
Tune Group is a group of entertainment and leisure companies, founded by Malaysian entrepreneurs Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun.
The group's brands includes low-cost airline Air Asia and Formula One team Lotus Racing. Fernandes is also the chairman of English Premier League football club Queen's Park Rangers.
Fernandes said Tune Middle East would “immediately” venture into hospitality and financial services industry in the region.
He added: "Tune Group is extremely pleased to be partnering with Mohammed Al Saad; we have the same vision, enthusiasm and motivation, together with a shared belief in the intrinsic value of building businesses.
"Tune Middle East will be the nucleus for our expansion in Qatar and the Middle East... the Middle East is a vibrant market for Tune to tap into and we look forward to building our businesses here."
He said Tune Middle East would be a platform to roll out Tune brands in GCC and the Middle East and to bring skills, investment and marketing opportunities to the region.
“There are some really strong synergies that have brought us to this exciting mutual commitment. Both Malaysia and the UK, where the Tune Group has a strong presence, enjoy superb relations with Qatar," he added.
Separately, low-cost carrier AirAsia is interested in flying to Doha, Fernandes said, adding that discussions were underway with Akbar al-Baker, the Qatar Airways CEO.
Currently, AirAsia flies to Tehran in the region.