The Qatari private sector is set to invest more than $5bn in Europe's hospitality sector in the next couple of years, top businessmen have said.
Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the five-star Retaj Hotel in the Turkish city of Istanbul, they said Qatari entrepreneurs were keen to tap opportunities in the European hospitality industry, "which is highly promising".
Retaj Hotels and Hospitality, one of the leading companies operating in Qatar, last week inaugurated its maiden overseas project in Istanbul. Retaj officials said they had launched negotiations for another one in London.
Retaj Royale Istanbul – a hotel with an Islamic concept like all properties of the group back home – is a five-star facility in the heart of the city with its focus on satisfying the luxury needs of a trans-Arabic clientele.
Retaj Group vice chairman Mohamed bin Johar al-Mohamed said his company was now planning another outlet in Istanbul. And the group had high ambitions for future, he added.
"We are eyeing the market in mainland Europe as well…we know there are openings for us. We are already in negotiations for taking a start in London," Johar revealed.
Retaj's entry into the European hospitality industry is part of a collective push by Qatar's private sector for investment in the continent that has gone through severe economic turbulence in recent years due to the global slowdown.
According to Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA) chairman Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani, the state's private sector is eager to tap opportunities in Europe's hospitality industry and the level of investment could reach the $5bn mark in a couple of years.
"I can clearly see a lot more openings for Qatari businessmen in Europe," he told reporters after delivering the keynote speech at the Retaj opening where he was the guest of the honor along with several other dignitaries from both the countries.
The disclosure of private sector ambitions to venture in the European market came on the heels of reports that Qatar's Katara Hospitality plans to acquire more outlets in Europe and the United States.
Retaj CEO Maagid El Saarany said that the private sector was keen to expand its operations to Europe.
"Here is our first step. We are looking beyond borders now," he said about the Turkish venture and plans.
A 5-star deluxe hotel, Retaj Royale Istanbul is a 10-minute drive from Istanbul's Atatürk Airport. It has 187 rooms, including 11 suites, two ballrooms with a capacity of 400 people and nine meeting halls.
Qatar-based Al Rayyan Tourism and Investment Company (ARTIC), the international hospitality division of Al Faisal Holding company, signed two agreements last month with SEB ImmoInvest to purchase the Grand Hyatt and Maritim hotels in Berlin.