The African division of Dubai World yesterday announced it is investing $200 million (Dh730m) in the Bilene hotel – a luxury resort, golf estate and eco-development on 4km of beachfront in Mozambique.
The 1,000-hectare site, situated in a holiday village near the capital, Maputo, in the south of the country, encompasses the Sao Martinho Lagoon, a nature reserve and turtle breeding area.
Dubai World Africa will help create an international competition-standard golf course and a five-star hotel plus beach villas and condos. The resort will be served by its own airport, Bilene Praia.
Eco-tourism will be the prime focus of the development. The nature reserve will be run by Dubai World Conservation Africa, which is being established as a holding company for a number of prime reserves.
“Growing tourism appeal and opportunities in Mozambique will serve to boost local economies and help both development and conservation projects,” said Dubai World Chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem.
“We are bringing to Bilene all the necessary resources, skills and expertise that have helped us transform Dubai into the iconic city that it is today. We have the chance to create a truly world-class resort.”
Sultan bin Sulayem listed Africa alongside China and India as the group’s investment hotspots.
“There are vast opportunities in Africa, opportunities unlike anywhere else in the world, such as the magnificent Bilene Hotel,” he said. “Our presence on the continent places us at an advantage for African investment.”
Dubai World Africa CEO James Wilson said the company has a dedicated team seeking investment opportunities. “We have a long-term commitment to Mozambique and the region to ensure Bilene becomes one of the leading tourist destinations on the continent and in the world,” he said.
“The investment demonstrates confidence in the Mozambique economy and signals strengthening commercial links between the Middle East and Africa. The huge potential of enhanced tourism collaboration in the region presents many exciting opportunities.”
Mozambique’s Minister of Tourism Dr Fernando Sumbana Junior said: “Dubai World Africa’s commitment will play an important role in enhancing our country’s status as an international tourism destination of choice. Tourism is a commercial activity that should be driven by the private sector.
“It is the industry of the future and this resort will serve to promote Mozambique internationally as a superb destination, not only for tourists but also for trade. We welcome and encourage the development of tourism infrastructure in our country, which offers a combination of virgin natural resources and a popular culture to make tourists feel at home.”
The resort will have extensive watersports facilities, including a diving centre that will enable visitors to explore pristine coral reefs and view marine life. The area is home to the largest type of turtle, the leatherback, which can grow to more than 3m long and 2.5m wide.
Dubai World’s strategy is to acquire high-end assets in key destinations around the world. Sultan bin Sulayem has said the company will invest $1.5 billion in Africa over the next five years. Dubai World Africa has rapidly established itself as a player in the continent’s top-end property sector. It has invested in prime assets, including the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront and the Pearl Valley Signature Golf Estate and Spa – both in Cape Town, South Africa – Le Galawa Beach Hotel in the Comores, Muyuni Beach Resort in Zanzibar and the Kempinski Hotel in Djibouti, among others.
The company has already invested in Mozambique, securing an interest in a container terminal in Maputo. And Dubai World recently took a stake in the company responsible for managing the port of Maputo, together with Grinrod and the Mozambique Ports and Railway Company, CFM.
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