Bin Majid eyes growth

DUBAI — The Bin Majid Group, a diversified business conglomerate, recorded steady growth in the first half and plans to expand its hospitality division in the UAE and Gulf region, its top official said.

By Muzaffar Rizvi (INTERVIEW)

Published: Sat 18 Aug 2012, 10:39 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 2:33 PM

The group — a conglomerate of several companies including Bin Majid Hotels, Impala Rent-a-car, Bin Majid Tours and Travel, and Gulf Hotel Supplies — sees a recovery in the tourism and real estate sectors and said the UAE’s safe-haven status will increase its attractiveness to both travellers and investors.

“We had an excellent performance in the hospitality section. We observed an overall 20 per cent more occupancy during the first half of the year compared with last year,” Dr Ali Kasapbashi, group general manager of the Bin Majid Group, told Khaleej Times in an interview.

He said the levels of occupancy were not great last year, as expected, due to the market slowdown. However, the tourism industry is now being revived and the market is looking good, paving way for the group to expand its business in the region.

“We certainly have huge plans to expand, first in the UAE and then in the GCC market,” Dr Kasapbashi said.

The Bin Majid Group is one of the leading professional service providers in the UAE. It has been continuously expanding its client base since 1978. Its commitment is to provide a high-quality service, meeting time schedules and cost implications demanded by visitors to the Arabian Gulf.

Bin Majid Hotels operates Bin Majid Beach Hotel, Bin Majid Beach Resort, Acacia Hotel and the newly-opened Mangrove Hotel. All four hotels are located in Ras Al Khaimah, while two new properties are scheduled to open in Abu Dhabi and Dubai during the third quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013, respectively.

“Bin Majid Hotels is an upcoming and growing chain of hotels in the Gulf region. We have seen success in the operations of our Ras Al Khaimah properties, thus we know that we are mature enough to expand to the other emirates,” he said.

In reply to a question about the demand for mid-scale and low-segment hotel brands, he said the global recession brought the emergence of budget hotels in the spotlight, paving the way for more travels especially from the mid-scale or low-segment market.

“Big names in the hospitality industry have ventured into budget hotels so we can see that the demand is there and is growing, but I don’t think it will directly compete with the luxury or up-scale properties because they have different market segments,” Dr Kasapbashi said. “During the global slowdown, businesses implemented a lot of strategies in order to stay in the market. One of the strategies was to reduce prices in order to make the cash flow so I could not really say that the mid-segment or low-end properties were more in demand,” he added.

“During the global recession, customers became very conscious of their expenses, so those who want to stay in upscale properties that offer first-class service and facilities but has limited budget had to do a lot of research but those who have the money to spend did not alter or change their travelling and spending habits.”

To a question about the increased competition, he said it is part of every business. “Competition occurs because of the demand from consumers, so I commend the UAE government for its vision and for always aiming high to make each and every industry attractive to its target market especially the tourism and hospitality industry,” Dr Kasapbashi said.

Referring to Jones Lang LaSalle report, he said the UAE hospitality market will benefit from continued investments in tourism-related infrastructure like airports and airline fleet expansion in 2012.

“The local real estate market will continue to be impacted by regional and global events due to the ongoing Arab Spring and the economic troubles of the eurozone, so buyers are now very conscious of their investments. However, the UAE’s safe-haven status will continue to be a beneficial factor for the sector during 2012,” he said.

“The UAE real estate sector will continue to grow. With more properties opening this year, there will be more choices of quality products, but the UAE’s role as a safe-haven will increase the attractiveness of the UAE market to both travellers and investors,” Dr Kasapbashi added.

He said the 2011 Arab Spring has confirmed the UAE’s role as something of a safe-haven within the region and it resulted into more visitors to the UAE which has greatly benefitted the hotel and retail markets.

“More investment happened in the residential sector because of affordable housing and with the UAE’s infrastructure continues to improve; it shows more and more stability for the investors. However, some corporations still delay their expansion plans until the global pictures becomes clearer. But overall, I think the UAE continues to cement its place as the preferred business and financial centre within the region,” Dr Kasapbashi concluded.

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