Dubai group to build 5-star hotel

HARARE - Dubai-based property firm Joz Group (Joz) plans to build a multi-million dollar five-star hotel in Zimbabwe.

Muhammad Nabeel, Joz’s chief executive, was recently in Harare scouting for a site to build the hotel.

Sources close to the developments said Nabeel met a number of representatives in the hospitality industry, including Tourism minister Walter Mzembi and Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive Karikoga Kaseke.

Yesterday, both Mzembi and Kaseke could neither confirm nor deny the developments as they were in Nairobi, Kenya on business, with the latter referring questions to his chief operating officer Givemore Chidzidzi.
Chidzidzi’s mobile phone went unanswered.

Joz manages a number of properties in Asia and East Africa and has also built a reputation in the beauty industry.

The potential investment comes at a time most foreign investors have adopted a wait-and-see attitude in light of the impending elections and the mounting indigenisation pressures.

Zimbabwe’s government has upped the ante on foreign-owned companies to comply with the Indigenisation law, which compels foreign companies to give up 51 percent shareholding to black locals.

Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere has said no sector will be exempted.

“After touring the country, Nabeel dispelled the indigenisation fears and said this was the best time to invest in the country and his organisation was keen to spread its wings into Zimbabwe,” said a source.

The country — currently hard-pressed to provide accommodation for over 5 000 visitors expected to attend the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly in August — has not seen the construction of major hotels in the past decade.

The hyperinflationary period that ravaged the country between the year 2000 and 2008 and subsequent political turmoil forced investors to flee leaving Zimbabwe’s industry in tatters, particularly hospitality and tourism.

In Dubai, Joz provides high quality property management solutions in a broad spectrum of areas.

The diversified conglomerate has a portfolio of managed and controlled companies located in various countries such as Bahrain, Kenya, Oman, Uganda, Qatar and United Arab Emirates.

Of late, the Tourism ministry and the ZTA have taken advantage of the instability gripping most of north Africa and parts of Middle East in the wake of the “Arab Spring” to attract investment.

In recent months, the ministry has made excursions into the cash rich Middle East to woo investors and tourists.

The region is currently awash with cash on the back of high oil prices on the international market.

Tourism experts say the Zimbabwe Investment Authority “one stop shop” had bolstered investor confidence in the country as projects could be given the green light within five days of application.

Last week, Meikles Hotel managing director Karl Snater said there have been many encouraging signs of renewed growth in the country’s travel and tourism.

“Along with our many colleagues throughout the sector, we look forward to increased interest in Zimbabwe as a destination for travellers of all kinds,” he said. - John Kachembere

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