Dubai billionaire Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor believes 2018 will be a much better year for businesses in the UAE after a tough year in the previous 12 months.
The founding chairman of the Al Habtoor Group acknowledged a challenging 2017 when the business climate “wasn’t that great” but said that he has seen “significant growth” so far this year, adding that “progress will continue”.
He also said that taking Al Habtoor public with an initial public offering is still under consideration.
“The UAE is resilient. We are unlike anywhere else in the region because the people of the country work hand in hand with the government. We are partners with the leaders to ensure our success,” he said in a video of a recent breakfast briefing with journalists in Germany.
Al Habtoor told the briefing that he will refrain from further expansion in the UAE for the time being given his company’s rapid expansion over the past few years.
“We are taking time to breathe in the UAE to finish our existing project. I am always open to investment opportunities abroad,” he said, adding that he will only consider international assets in the hospitality and commercial real estate sector.
The company is behind the Al Habtoor City mega project in Dubai which comprises three ultra-luxurious residential towers, three five-star hotels, a permanent Las Vegas-style water-based theatre production by Dragone, and an array of retail and leisure facilities, as well as a boulevard, marina promenade, tennis academy and landscaped gardens.
He stressed the importance of continuation and succession planning, adding that an IPO is still under consideration.
“The idea of taking the Al Habtoor Group public remains a possibility in the future. Maybe after 2020 we will consider it again.”
When asked about Saudi Arabia’s plans to boost tourism and how the Kingdom’s 2030 vision could impact the UAE, Al Habtoor said: “We are happy for Saudi Arabia to expand. I wish them the best of luck. I think the young leadership is doing a great job.
“The UAE is different to Saudi Arabia. We have had the foundations in place for a long time thanks to our fathers and forefathers, and our visionary leaders. I think it will take a long time for Saudi Arabia to build their vision, so there will be no negative impact on the Emirates.”