Guyana woos UAE company to invest in local hotel, resorts
…as potential exists for investment in agriculture, mining
Following last month’s successful engagements in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Guyana continues to pursue potential investors from the Middle East.
On Tuesday, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh facilitated a virtual follow-up meeting between Managing Director of the Al Habtoor Group LLC located in Abu Dhabi, Mr. Maan Halabi, and Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister, Oneidge Walrond, along with Guyanese private sector representatives.
The meeting took place in the Boardroom of the Ministry of Finance and formed part of a series of meetings hosted by Dr. Singh recently as a follow-up to meetings first held in Dubai during a visit by President Irfaan Ali and a team of Government Ministers for the Dubai 2020 Exposition.
During that visit to Dubai, the Al Habtoor Group had expressed interest in expanding its global footprint in the tourism properties market.
As such, the Finance Ministry said on Tuesday that the Guyana Government continues to court the group into taking up available investment opportunities in the hotel and resort industry here or partnering with local private sector investors to expand the industry.
“Today’s meeting allowed for the discussion of investment opportunities in these areas,” the missive from the ministry detailed.
Dr Singh indicated to the company officials that there is a wide range of opportunities for the Group to invest in Guyana, particularly in the tourism sector. These include greenfield investments in new flagship hotel projects, partnerships with existing investors currently developing hotel projects, and establishment of large-scale nature-based tourist resorts.
He further outlined that the tourism sector is poised for rapid expansion in Guyana and is therefore attractive to international investors like the Al Habtoor Group which already has a global footprint of premium flagship hotels worldwide.
“The tourism industry in Guyana even before the COVID-19 period had started to gain international acclaim recognition especially for eco-tourism. With the advent of the oil and gas sector and that attention, we also began seeing increased interest with just visitors and businesses for the oil and gas sector so one of the good problems that we have so far in Guyana is that we have the need for good quality rooms,” Minister Walrond explained to Halabi.
She further noted that within a month of Government being in office, expressions of interest were sent out for internationally-branded hotels to be built in the country since one of Guyana’s premier hotels-the Marriott- is currently fully booked out until January 2022.
Noting that there has already been sod-turning for a number of new additional hotels, with two having taken place close to the Timehri International Airport, the Tourism Minister added that Government will soon send out expressions of interest for luxury-branded eco-tourism facilities within the eco-tourism industry as it hopes to have at least 2000 hotel rooms available for visitors to the country.
Meanwhile, former President of the Guyana Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG), Mitra Ramkumar, said during the virtual engagement that he believes the tourism industry in Guyana had already taken off even before the advent of oil and gas. He added too that this country can learn much from the UAE on how its tourism industry can be a spin-off from the oil and gas sector especially since Guyana has pristine rainforests, a diversity of people, beauty and nature as well as vast lands for development and investment and as such, further investment can catapult its success.
The Al Habtoor Group is one of the UAE’s most respected and successful businesses that provides engineering and construction services but also operates in the hospitality, automotive, real estate, education and publishing sectors with vast investments in tourism.
Only last Friday, Minister Singh hosted another meeting between Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), Ahmed Bin Sulayem, and his team and Guyana’s Ministers of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha; Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat and Minister Walrond, along with other private sector key stakeholders within the Agriculture and Gold and Diamond mining sectors in Guyana.
At that meeting, the teams indicated to the DMCC that Guyana has the capacity for the large-scale production of many agricultural commodities such as soya bean, ginger, corn, rice, coconuts, eddoes, cassava and plantains which can be exported to Dubai. It was emphasized that with Dubai being a major global commodity trading hub, Guyana stands to gain access to wider markets for its products. Meanwhile, other investment opportunities were noted, such as those in the forestry and mining sectors.
Upon hearing about these investment opportunities, DMCC then expressed interest in learning more about Guyana’s agricultural and mining potential including commodities such as coffee, cocoa and rare earth minerals. The Guyanese representatives from both the public and private sectors thereby noted that now is the opportune time for Guyana’s abundant resources to be transformed into wealth for the prosperity of all citizens. (G8)