Abdullah Khoory, Vice President of Al Khoory Group, talks about the group’s strong commitment to the UAE economy and the opening of their new hotel
Abdullah Khoory, Vice President of Al Khoory Group (2nd from left) and Arun Kumar, General Manager of Al Khoory Hotels, announce the opening of the Al Khoory Sky Garden Hotel in the Port Saeed area of Deira in Dubai on November 27. Photo provided
The Al Khoory Sky Garden hotel is located on land where the Emirati group began its business activities in 1971, the year the United Arab Emirates was founded.
Now, 50 years later, the group has recreated history with their new hotel, just days before the UAE’s National Day, December 2, when the country makes a fresh start for the next 50 years.
As the UAE prepares to celebrate its founding golden jubilee, the Al Khoory family has opened their sixth property, the Sky Garden Hotel. The group’s hotel arm, Al Khoory Hotels, opened the property in the heart of Deira, where it all began.
The hotel’s location was once known as the Port Saeed district which stretches to the shores of Dubai Creek. It is a short walk from the Al Khoory Group Office and Yard, where wooden merchant ships transported goods to and from India’s economic gateway, Mumbai; Karachi, Pakistan; Bandar Abbas, Iran; and other ports of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Dubai Creek and Port Saeed served as an economic lifeline for Dubai – then a commercial outpost – before Port Rashid in Shindagha became a major port. The wooden boats (dhows) can still be seen carrying goods to and from their berths at Dubai Creek, next to the Al Maktoum Bridge where Dubai Customs has their operations.
The emirate’s economic landscape has started to expand on both sides of Dubai Creek due to the hectic business activity.
Khaleej Times spoke to Abdullah Khoory, vice chairman of the Al Khoory group, about the group’s “strong commitment to the economy of the United Arab Emirates and in particular the tourism sector”.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
How diverse is the Al Khoory group? What are its main business interests?
Al Khoory Group is a well-diversified UAE family business conglomerate with interests in real estate, automotive, equipment trading, engineering consulting services, environment, management waste, tourism and hotels. The company assembles water pumps, electrical control panels, garbage cans, chutes and electric generators. The group has established its presence throughout the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar.
The vision and foresight of Mohammed Tayyeb Khoory, President of Al Khoory Group, were brought to life by his sons, who ensured high quality specialist services, a highly skilled workforce, professional management and a commitment to a constant improvement in the level of service. These factors have combined to make the group a success and one of the most respected business houses in the UAE.
The Al Khoory group comprises six large companies, including Mohammed Tayyeb Khoory Sons; Aikah for general trade; Al Khoory Automobiles; Mohammed Tayyeb Khoory Immobilier; Al Baha Engineering Consultants and Al Khoory Hotels.
What sectors do you expect to emerge stronger in the post-pandemic world of Covid-19 and why?
We strongly believe in the long term sustainability of the UAE economy. While some industries may do better than others, all sectors will continue to grow at their own pace. Among the group’s portfolio, we see both the hospitality and real estate sectors as sectors that will grow faster than others.
UAE Unique Selling Proposition (USP) such as world class infrastructure and connectivity to the rest of the world, quality of life, safety and security, ease of doing business, etc., will continue to attract visitors and investors and help create more well-paying jobs in key sectors. Dubai’s economy is dependent on tourism, retail and commerce and there is pent-up demand in these sectors. Thus, companies in these sectors will continue to prosper.
How is the UAE hotel industry looking after the pandemic for two consecutive years?
It has recovered so well that hotel occupancy and room rates have reached pre-2019 levels. Most of the hotels that conceded losses due to the pandemic from March 2020 to April 2021 have started to recover losses and they will come out of it fully next year. As the UAE opened its borders to vaccinated visitors, the country’s tourism industry began to thrive thanks to Expo 2020, which helps attract more visitors to the UAE. Thus, the hospitality industry is preparing well for the next phase of growth.
Has Expo 2020 Dubai made a difference in boosting tourism?
A lot. Reservations from September have resumed in part thanks to Expo 2020 Dubai. In addition, those who have not been able to travel for 18 months due to Covid-19, have now started to travel.
What are your existing properties in the hospitality sector?
Al Khoory Hotels debuted in 2008 and now operates six properties in different parts of Dubai. Another property is getting ready for business. As a hotel brand of the United Arab Emirates, Al Khoory Hotels offers its guests a unique experience of hospitality in some of the best hotels and apartment hotels in Dubai.
Al Khoory Hotels will open an additional property in the United Arab Emirates in the coming months, while two more hotels are currently under development in Oman – which will double its hotel portfolio – in a short period of time. Existing hotels are strategically located near major business centers, including Business Bay, the Dubai World Trade Center (DWTC) and Expo 2020 site, as well as major leisure and entertainment destinations, such as Dubai Mall, Burj Khalifa, Mall of the Emirates, La Mer, Jumeirah Beach and the historic Al Fahidi district. The ideal location of our hotels and easy access to public transport and the Dubai Metro make them the ideal choice for business and leisure travelers alike.
Al Khoory Hotels are managed by Al Khoory Hospitality, a subdivision of the Al Khoory Group, a conglomerate with diverse interests in different industries. The group’s business interests lie in the areas of real estate, automotive, environment, engineering services, consulting, hospitality and general commerce, etc.
How do you plan to develop?
We have a new property which is in the process of opening its doors in the next few months. In addition, we have two new properties that are preparing to launch in Oman next year.
What is the USP of your last Sky Gardens property?
Perfect location. It is located in the heart of Dubai City, next to Deira city center, close to metro station and Dubai International Airport. It enjoys easy access to public transport networks. In addition, it is a family-run hotel with a number of built-in energy efficiency and sustainability features.
How does the government support the hotel sector?
The tourism department provides tremendous support to hoteliers and tour operators. They promote Dubai and the tourism industry globally, and when tourists land in Dubai, we all benefit from hotel occupancy, consumption, etc. Our activity is growing thanks to the proactive measures of the government. We have opened two new hotels since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world. This is our group’s long-term commitment to the economy of the UAE.