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Saudi developer set to restart Dubailand project

Saudi Arabia-based developer Al Hokair Group is planning to resume construction on its stalled Al Sahara Kingdom hotel and entertainment project in Dubailand in 2013, its deputy CEO has said.

The Al Sahara Kingdom has been master-planned over a 4.6 hectare area in Dubailand, the delayed real estate development backed by Dubai Properties Group (DPG).

The project is set to include two four-star hotels – to be run by Al Hokair-owned MENA Hotels & Resorts, an indoor theme park, restaurants, residential areas and a retail souk..

“This is on hold now, but we will try to [restart construction] of the hotels and theme park in 2013, combined with the apartments and villas. This is our plan,” said Sami AM Al-Hokair in comments published by Hotelier Middle East.

When asked when the firm expected the project to be completed, Al-Hokair said construction would take two years.

“[We’re] starting with the theme park, hotels and with the serviced apartments, and the retail – it’s coming phase by phase, but phase one [will open in] 2014,” he said.

Al-Hokair added that the developer’s plan to resume the project was in response to increased demand in line with growing tourist numbers to the emirate.

“There is a lot of demand. We expect more tourism is coming to Dubai. I think we’re expecting 15 million visitors to Dubai by 2015,” he said.

Dubailand was one of the Gulf emirate’s most ambitious developments, announced at the height of the real estate bubble.

The resort was originally slated to be twice the size of Walt Disney World, and was reportedly worth AED335bn at its peak. It was placed on hold after the financial crisis triggered the collapse of Dubai’s real estate market in late-2008.

In October, DPG said the firm was in talks to renegotiate four projects in the resort, with plans to unveil details of a sustainable city by end-2012.

Alongside details of a planned sustainable city within the resort, three further projects funded by Middle East investors will be confirmed in 2012, CEO Khalid Al Malik said.

He added: “We are currently in talks with three other investors. They [include] a couple of investors from the region who would like to start projects in Dubailand.

“We are in serious negotiations with them, hopefully next year [in 2012, we can expect announcements], in the first and second quarter.”

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