The Lebanese-based company behind the Cavalli Club in Dubai says it has acquired the Palladium in the emirate and plans to turn it into a US$100 million (Dh367.2m) upmarket entertainment complex. The Palladium, which opened last year in Media City, includes a concert theatre. "We are not going to keep the Palladium as such," said Joe Tabet, the executive chairman of the investment group Pragma, which announced the acquisition yesterday.
"We are going to change the concept to include a hotel and a pool of restaurants." Mr Tabet said there was a lot of unused space in the building and Pragma was planning to link up with "an international name" to make use of the theatre area, but he declined to elaborate. "That's something that's going to be unique in the region," he said. Mr Tabet said the company was in discussions to see if it would close the Palladium soon or keep it going for some time before starting work on the developments. "Ideally speaking, we would like to keep the Palladium for some period of time but maybe it's not going to be possible," he said. "We are in a hurry to implement the concepts." Mr Tabet believes there is still room in the Dubai market for good restaurants and clubs. "A certain category of people are not finding what they want in Dubai," he said. "They still travel to happening cities like London, New York, Kuala Lumpur to entertain themselves."
Mr Tabet said bringing an existing brand from London to Dubai would not work. "Dubai needs things that are tailor-made for people living in Dubai," he said. "There are lots of restaurants available but not many that are inviting for an outing for the evening. This is what is lacking in Dubai." The company is also planning to launch other ventures, including a "bohemian" cafe chain, with its first outlet opening at Jumeirah Beach Residence within the next month.
The company also wants to take the Cavalli Club to other cities, with Beirut, London, Shanghai and Istanbul among the destinations being considered. Meanwhile, the Cavalli Cafe, an aclohol-free version of the club, was expected to open in Riyadh by next February before being rolled out across the region, Mr Tabet said. He said he was confident Pragma would be able to raise the financing for the ventures. "I think the market is coming back. We're not finding it very difficult." Pragma is also exploring opportunities for expansion in Abu Dhabi.