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Saudi Arabia has created another investment fund, this time under the banner of its mega-city Neom. The Neom Investment Fund will spread its vast amount of cash around the world, investing in businesses it sees as futuristic or industry-changing.

Series: Middle East Travel Roundup

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Saudi Arabia’s super-city of Neom has created its own investment fund. The Neom Investment Fund will largely focus on mergers and acquisitions and venture capital in tech startups, said the organization. The Neom Investment Fund will also work with global organizations through joint ventures to boost its many sectors, including travel and tourism.

Neom is Saudi Arabia’s futuristic city being built from the ground up as a new global benchmark for sustainability, livability and tourism. The area will be home to various giga-projects, including The Line, ski destination Trojena, and super-luxury yachting island Sindalah. Should all its contracts be awarded, Neom has a total value of around $500 billion.

“The vision of Neom is to address global challenges that redefine liveability, conservation and business. As Neom’s strategic investment subsidiary, the [Neom Investment Fund] will play a critical role in converting Neom’s vision to reality,” said Nadhmi Al Nasr, chief executive of Neom.

“The [Neom Investment Fund] will enable Neom to sustain its contribution to realizing the ambitions of the kingdom over the long term, cementing its position as a driver of economic diversification and job creation.”

The strategy is designed to align Neom’s development objectives with those of innovators and institutional investors, “de-risking opportunities for them to participate in creating core global growth businesses and a thriving economy” in the city, added the fund’s chief executive, Majid Mufti.

Travel Sector Should Always Be Prepared for Tensions

The governments of the Middle East “must take a long-term view” to protect their tourism industries from regular regional shocks. That is the advice of Khalid Al-Rumaihi, a prominent figure in Bahraini society and the former CEO of the kingdom’s holding company, Mumtalakat.

Speaking at a conference in Riyadh last week, Al-Rumaihi said the region must brace for shocks every three years or so, such as the war between Israel and Hamas.

He said: “How can governments insulate against what’s happening in the world? You’ve got to have a long-term view. This region [the Middle East] is quite familiar with shock, we have a shock every three or four years. If you’re going to build a hotel, you need to think about it in terms of decades.”

“Governments have to adopt long-term policies. Every crisis is going to be different. Governments need to ensure they create an environment where investments feel safe. Investors should feel comfortable even in high-stress situations.”

25hours-Branded Residences To Open in Dubai Downtown

Ennismore will deploy its 25hours brand for a standalone residential building in Dubai’s tourist hotspot Downtown district. Called 25hours Heimat – the German word for “home” – the residence will span studio, one-, two- and three-bed units. No opening date was given for the project, but it is the latest in a branded residences boom in Dubai.

Accor announced its Accor One Living division this year, an arm of the business dedicated to growing its branded residences portfolio. Elsewhere in the Accor stable, a standalone SLS residences, a set of Raffles-branded villas and more affordable Mama Shelter apartments in the Business Bay area.

Six Senses Continues Saudi Expansion

IHG’s luxurious wellness-focused Six Senses brand is growing rapidly in Saudi Arabia. Typically a brand that deploys one or two resorts per country, a third such resort in Saudi Arabia has been signed, this time in AlUla. Set to open in 2027, Six Senses AlUla joins outposts at The Red Sea – now open – and in nearby Amaala.

Six Senses AlUla will span across 1,200,000 square meters and will feature 100 guest villas and 25 residences. AlUla is a historical desert district of Saudi Arabia, touted as the kingdom’s “living museum”. The site is home to UNESCO World Heritage site Hegra, as well as an increasingly large set of luxury hotels. Other AlUla hotels include a Habitas, a Banyan Tree and a Chedi property in the pipeline.

U.S. Office Demand Could Be Permanently Damaged, Says Starwood Boss

Barry Sternlicht, founder and CEO of the Starwood Capital Group has said that demand for U.S. office space could be stifled for good. “The real issue [in real estate] sits in the offices sector,” said the U.S. billionaire and long-time hotel magnate, during a conference in Riyadh last week. “On the office side, it is more difficult. The question of what the purpose of an office is debatable [after Covid].”

After the conclusion of the pandemic, there has been a slow return of employees to the office. In the first quarter of this year, the office vacancy rate in the United States reached a historic high of 13.1%, as reported by the National Association of Realtors.

AlUla Looks To Go Global With Airport Expansion

The historic AlUla area of Saudi Arabia is looking for visitor numbers in the millions, with travelers coming from all over the world. A cherished area for Saudi culture, AlUla chiefs have previously been wary of mass-tourism. Now, a new airport expansion seems to show a shift in priorities. A new terminal is being added to the AlUla International Airport, looking to boost arrival numbers from 400,000 as they are now to more than six million. The airport will grow to approximately 2.4 million square meters, allowing it to accommodate up to 15 aircraft.

Dubai Ranks As A Top City For Remote-Working

Dubai has been placed as the second-best major city in the world for remote workers, according to a new study from WorkMotion. The rankings were based on visa regulations, remote-working infrastructure, safety, mobility, happiness, affordability, and income tax rates, where Dubai did particularly well since it has no personal income tax.

The United Arab Emirates has introduced a raft of new longer term 5 and 10-year residency Golden Visas, 80,000 of which were issued in 2022, to make the country more appealing for skilled overseas workers. Dubai Tourism is very much focused on promoting remote work in the city – during December last year, the authority partnered with Airbnb on a “Live and Work Anywhere” program to promote using Airbnbs during longer stints of work in Dubai.

Dubai Party Brand Five Eyes Overseas Growth

Five Holdings, the owner and operator of Dubai’s party hotel brand Five, is ready to export its services. Its hotels, Five Palm Jumeirah and Five Jumeirah Village Triangle are two of the most notorious in the city, known for hosting all-out parties and music events that walk the line of what is acceptable in the conservative Middle East region. Five has confirmed its acquisition of Ibiza nightclub group Pacha in a filing on the Nasdaq.

“This acquisition marks a pivotal moment in FIVE Holdings’ strategic growth and worldwide expansion journey,” reads the filing. The acquisition comprises a range of assets that includes the Pacha Nightclub, Destino Pacha Hotel, El Hotel Pacha, Toy Room Club, and WooMoon Storytellers as well as registered trademarks such as the brand name “Pacha.”


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Photo credit: Neom, Credit: Unsplash

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