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Landmark goes where others fear to tread

Landmark Hotels, based in Dubai, sees opportunities for growth in Angola and Libya.

The Dubai-based Landmark Hotels group is eyeing opportunities to expand into Angola and Libya.

The company, which manages eight hotels in the three and four-star segment, most of which are in Dubai, says both countries are undersupplied with hotels.

"In Angola there's a lot of oil, so there's a lot of development happening there," said Deen Sadiq, the group director of the Landmark Zenath Group, which owns Landmark Hotels.

"But [companies] are afraid to go to these countries. This is a place where there are only two five-star hotels, a handful of four-star hotels, so the rates are very high. A place like this needs hotels.

"We're also looking at taking our trading business to Angola, restaurants, construction. We'll set up an office, we'll put a team there, and we need to sign up with a developer."

Mr Sadiq said the company was about to sign a contract for a hotel in Libya before the revolution, and was keen to open a hotel there as soon as things settled down politically.

"Infrastructure has been destroyed in many places which will require extensive rebuilding and investment in the country's travel and tourism industry in the long term," said Nadejda Popova, a travel and tourism analyst at Euromonitor International.

"However, Libya benefits from large oil, gold and natural gas reserves and offers the strongest economic growth potential of all the Arab Spring states."

Landmark owns other hotels in the UAE as well as a hotel in Jeddah. The company recently launched a three-star hotel in Ahmedabad in India under a management contract.

"We are looking at establishing our office in India to take on more properties," Mr Sadiq said, adding that the group was in talks to manage other hotels in the subcontinent. "It's only the big cities that have all the hotels. There are so many tier-two cities which are actually starting to grow and they need hotels. We are only targeting three-star and four-star."

Although the company had developed its own properties in Dubai, it was now looking to manage hotels to expand at a faster pace and to try to compete with global players, Mr Sadiq said.

"We can't build 100 properties, so we're looking at management contracts. We've learnt a lot in Dubai in the last 15 years, so we feel we can use this know-how in growing countries, such as India, Saudi Arabia, Qatar.

"In the next five to 10 years we would like to expand to at least 50 hotels." There was still more potential for the company to develop more hotels in Dubai, he added.

Landmark Zenath, which started out as a property company, opened its first hotel in old Dubai in 1996. This week, it launched the Landmark Grand Hotel Rigga, in Deira, Dubai.

rbundhun@thenational.ae

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