Dubai World in talks with Benin for large-scale tourism projects

DUBAI — Dubai World announced yesterday that it has entered negotiations with the Government of Benin to develop large-scale tourist attractions in the West African country, including a 32 kilometre beachfront development, which will be masterplanned, as well as an international hotel in the capital city of Porto Novo.

By A Staff Reporter

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Published: Fri 18 Apr 2008, 11:13 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:40 AM

The leading global holding company chose Benin for major investments during the West African tour by Chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem and a team of senior officials from various group companies, including James Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai World Africa, the group’s investment arm in the continent.

The Dubai World executive team met President of Benin Boni Yayi and discussed potential business partnership opportunities.

Commenting on the visit Bin Sulayem said: “The steadily growing trade relations between Dubai and Benin are encouraging. This gives confidence to Dubai World to engage in business ventures with Benin, which has high growth potential in West Africa.

He commended President Yayi’s efforts to give a new focus for the country’s economy with farsighted plans for overall development.

“Benin has made impressive economic recovery in recent years and is now poised for a future that holds huge promise. The government’s policy on clear governance, liberalisation and privatisation has provided the economy the much needed vigour for growth. This is the kind of investment atmosphere that Dubai World is searching for,” he noted.

James Wilson said that the MoU with the government of Benin will provide Dubai World Africa with another opportunity to shape eco-tourism in the continent.

“The involvement of Dubai World Africa in the masterplanning of the beachfront and the development of game parks, will not only boost the country’s tourism industry, but will also preserve the unique qualities of Benin’s natural beauty,” Wilson added.

“Dubai World Africa will be sending wildlife and ecology experts from it existing game reserves in South Africa to Benin to evaluate its national parks This is in keeping with the group’s strategy to rehabilitate, develop and manage high-end game reserves across the African continent, demand for Eco tourism and adventure tourism has shown a 90 per cent growth over the past five years and is growing by 20 per cent per annum” he said.

Dubai World has also shown interest in the international port of Cotonou on the Atlantic coast, which has modern facilities and is a key trade gateway to the West African market. DP World, the group’s flagship marine terminal operator, is looking at the prospect of investing in port management and a possible free zone, areas where the group has stamped its seal of excellence across the world. The port handles trade in cotton, crude oil and palm products among other things.

According to the Statistics Department of Dubai World, non oil trade between Dubai and Benin amounted to Dh225.565 million in 2007, which included import, export and re-export.

Dubai World Africa’s major projects in the continent include the world-class Shamwari Game Reserve, Sanbona Wildlife Reserve and Jock Safari Lodge in South Africa, which are members of the Mantis Collection. The company also owns other prime African properties, such as the iconic Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and the Pearl Valley Signature Golf Estate and Spa, both in Cape Town, South Africa, the Kempinski Beach Resort and Residences in the Comoros, One & Only Zanzibar, Djibouti Palace Kempinski and Nyungwe, Akagera National Park and Gorilla’s Nest Lodge all in Rwanda, among others. There are plans for further expansion of its portfolio.

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