Muscat: Muriya Tourism Development Company, the Sultanate’s leading integrated tourism project developer, plans to invest $500 million for completing high-end hotels and other facilities in its two major destinations — Salalah and Jebel Sifah.
“We need another $500 million to build the remaining hotels and recreational facilities in both destinations in the next six to eight years,” Samih Sawiris, chairman of Muriya and of Orascom Development Holding, told Times of Oman in an exclusive interview.
Egypt-based Orascom Development has 70 per cent stake in Muriya Tourism Development, while the remaining 30 per cent is held by state-owned Oman Tourism Development Company (Omran).
Sawiris, who was in Salalah to mark the official opening of the first phase of its integrated tourism complex, said that Muriya plans to build three more hotels here to make it a critically-sized destination to be able to bring more and more air traffic. “We have three hotels with 700 rooms in Salalah.”
“So far, we (Muriya) have invested $500 million in Oman for developing both destinations. Then we have taken $50 million loan from banks (for building the tourism project),” added the Sawiris.
He said that both tourism projects (Salalah and Jebel Sifah) will be sufficiently massed to attract additional tourists to Oman.
“In Salalah, we are building a destination and not just one or two hotels. We invest a lot in infrastructure facilities (marina and desalination plants) in the beginning. We grow from there. It is a bit different from other projects,” added Ahmed Dabbous, chief executive officer of Muriya.
Sawiris noted that Muriya was the only company that continued to invest in a project without waiting for bank loans for development.
“During a crisis, banks will not finance projects, especially tourism and real estate projects. And everybody uses banks as an excuse (for delaying/scrapping tourism projects). We have decided that we will complete the projects with equity capital and we did not stop,” said Sawiris. As a result, the investment by way of equity was high in the ratio of 9:1, compared to the normal project funding ratio of 40:60 in tourism projects.
Earlier this month, Muriya opened its third hotel, the four-star 218-room Fanar Hotel and Residences in Salalah. Since its inception, Muriya has been spearheading the growth of the high-end tourism, real-estate and leisure sectors. The company’s development strategy has been to help transform Salalah into a leading prime international destination.