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Al Habtoor steers away from recession-hit Europe

Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor Wam
Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor says he is concentrating on Dubai as a result of factors including the feared UK recession and sanctions on Russia
  • Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor is focusing on Dubai and the UAE
  • Al Habtoor Group owns hotels in European cities
  • Ambitious Habtoor Tower broke ground this week

The founding chairman of property empire Al Habtoor Group has dismissed plans to invest in Western Europe, focusing instead on launching its latest multi-billion-dirham project in his Dubai home market.

Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor’s company owns hotels in Budapest, Vienna, Beirut and London. He told Bloomberg in January he was looking to invest $3 billion this year and was eyeing opportunities in Central Europe.

However, he told AGBI this week he is now focused on projects in the UAE.

“I am here now concentrating on Dubai. We are invested in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates in general,” he said.

Al Habtoor stressed that he remained neutral in the ongoing conflict between Russia and the Ukraine. However he admitted that the seizure of assets belonging to high-profile Russians in the West as a result of strict sanctioning measures “makes you worried”.

“I am not supporting Russia, I am not supporting Ukraine, but if you go and take over their money and their property, that’s scary,” he said.

“How we invest tomorrow and what will happen if we have a dispute? There would be trouble.”

Referring to the UK in particular, Al Habtoor said he had no interest in adding to his Hilton London Wembley hotel as a result of an impending recession in the country. He claimed any recession was “created by themselves”, alluding to the economic fallout from the UK’s Brexit referendum in 2016.

In January the International Monetary Fund forecast that the UK would be the only G7 economy to shrink in 2023, in large part because of an inflation rate that remains above 10 percent.

Habtoor Tower broke ground this week and is planned to be 81 storeys tall

Al Habtoor made the comments as his company broke ground on the Habtoor Tower building on Thursday.

Based in Al Habtoor City on the banks of the Dubai Canal on a built-up area of 3.5 million square feet, the residential tower will be one of the biggest in the world. It includes three basements for parking, seven podiums above ground and 81 floors comprising 1,701 rooms.

The level of investment in the project was not revealed, but reports in December suggest it could be in the region of AED4.5 billion ($1.22 billion).

Al Habtoor Group was previously involved in building the Burj Al Arab, Dubai International Airport Terminals 1 and 3, and Abu Dhabi Officers’ Club, among others.

“I have never done a project like this,” said Al Habtoor.

Habtoor Tower forms part of a AED9.5 billion investment in three residential projects across the emirate.

These include a AED2.5 billion development in the Habtoor Grand Resort in Jumeirah Beach Residences and a AED2.5 billion project to redevelop the Habtoor Tower in Dubai Marina.

The latest development in Al Habtoor City, expected to be complete withinthree years, will further boost Al Habtoor Group’s portfolio, which includes real estate, hospitality, automotive and education.

Dubai premium residential prices are lower than many other world cities