Just 4 years after the first investment in Maldives the Qatari businessman has invested again. The first investment in Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi resort is believed to be around $150mn – $200mn. The resort was opened in 2019 in Ithaafushi island, about 20 minutes by speedboat from Velana International airport. The resort offers luxury yacht transfer for tourists, instead of the regular speedboat in most of the resorts.
This businessman from Qatar is Ramez Al-Khayyat. His company Ramez Al-Khayyat Asset Group bought a lagoon in July 2023. This lagoon is adjacent to their already successful Waldorf Astoria Maldives resort, it is just 1 mile away. Known as Vaavehdhifalhu, this lagoon can be reclaimed to an island to build about 150 private villas. The lagoon was reported bought for $20mn which is very high for a lagoon. Higher price is justifiable as this is a strategic location that has already proven to be highly success. Islands and lagoon that are closer to airports have more potential, therefore more expensive. Properties that are closer to international airports are even higher in price and Vaavehdhifalhu is located close to the main international airport that welcomes over 95% of tourists arriving the country.
Ramez Al-Khayyat Asset Group has not announced construction of the new resort yet. But, owner of one of the leading hotel construction company is a close associate of Mr Ramez. The same company carried construction of Waldorf Astoria resort. Therefore, it is expected that the new resort will be developed by the same company and construction is likely to start in 2014. Dredging of the island would be the first task which may happen within months. There are some international dredgers already operating in Maldives on government project, after completion they may take other private sector projects before withdrawing their equipment to home country. These companies are known to complete island reclamation quickly, just like it would be expected by the wealthy businessman from Qatar.
Middle Eastern investors are no strangers in the Maldives. In 2021 Alpha Dhani Holdings acquired Cheval Blanc Randheli for USD 2016 million. The previously owner of the resort was also believed to be a Middle Eastern businessman. Managing Director of Alpha Dhabi Holdings, Mr Hamad Al Ameri, stated that they invested $680 million in various hospitality projects and Randheli become their first investment in the Maldives.
Located in Noonu Atoll, Randheli is just 12 miles from Maafaru International Airport and 7 miles from Manadhoo which is the atoll capital. Compared to Waldorf Astoria owned by Ramez Al-Khayyat Asset Group the Randheli island is smaller in property size as it contains only 45 villas. Randheli is made up of 5 small islands. Both resorts are considered the most luxurious resorts in Maldives but locations are different.
Maafaru airport is an investment of $60 million granted from Abu Dhabi Fund For Development. The construction was carried out by Singapore’s Tuff Infrastructure. The airport has a 2200 metre long runway at a width of 40 meters. It believed that the owner of Cheval Blanc Randheli facilitated this grant. The owner usually visit the resort at least once an year, he is treated as a top VIP in the airport. The airport keeps some luxury cars exclusively for him.
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