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Friday, October 22, 2021

Qatar opens $1 billion St. Regis Hotel in Cairo


After years of dispute, both countries restored their full diplomatic ties on Tuesday.

Qatar Diar Real Estate Company officially opened its prestigious and wholly-owned St. Regis Hotel in the Egyptian capital on Tuesday, just hours after the signing of the A-Ula declaration in Saudi Arabia.

The opening ceremony, also attended by US Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin in Cairo, welcomed Qatar’s Finance Minister Ali Al Emadi, the first official to visit Egypt since the 2017 rift erupted. 

“By investing through Qatari Diar in this distinguished project, the State of Qatar practically affirms its commitment to contribute to supporting the tourism sector for its vital role in economic development and creating job opportunities,” said Al Emadi.

The project commenced in 2012 and although the ceremony may seem to have been timed with the GCC summit on Tuesday, sources have told Doha News that this is totally coincidental. 

“This project represents a new addition to the Qatari investments in Egypt, exceeding $5bn in various fields,” the minister added.

Read also: Key points from Al-Ula declaration ‘unity’ statement

The $1 billion investment into St Regis is considered one of the company’s most prominent projects in Egypt, offering an ultimate expression of contemporary luxury in the country’s capital. 

“We congratulate Qatari Diar for the inauguration of this pioneering hotel, which is a result of the company’s decision to invest in the tourism sector, one of the most important sectors for Egyptian economy,” said Egyptian Finance Minister Mohamed Moait. 

“Increasing foreign investments in Egypt is one of the most important goals of the Egyptian government, and the private sector is one of the most important sectors of investment in Egypt,” he added.

The building area exceeds 197,000 square meters, with two 135 meters high towers, in addition to a seven-story service building, encompassing lounges, restaurants, ballroom, meeting rooms, swimming pools, health centre, sauna and service rooms. 

Timeline: How the GCC crisis erupted over three years

Located on the banks of the Nile River in the heart of Cairo, St. Regis consists of 286 hotel units, including luxurious rooms and suites and 80 hotel apartments of different sizes. 

“We are excited about the opening of the hotel today, as it marks the start of the completion of many projects in the Arab Republic of Egypt in the coming period,” said the Chairman of Qatari Diar, Khalid bin Khalifa Al Thani. 

Part of the Al-Ula Declaration was to develop the strategic partnerships between all countries involved in the reconciliation to ensure common interests. The opening of this project is considered a fresh milestone in investments for both countries. 

Read also: BREAKING: Full diplomatic relations to be restored between Qatar, blockading GCC states.

The company’s investments in the Egyptian market currently exceeds $3billion, spread over a number of projects, comprising more than 40 million square meters and ranging from tourist to residential to mixed-use projects. 

“[The] project provided more than 5,000 direct job opportunities for the Egyptians, including around 1,000 engineers from various disciplines during the construction phase,” said the CEO of Qatari Diar Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah. 

“The project also directly supported local industries as we relied on the local market to provide construction materials and components, which exceeded 70 percent of the project needs,” Al Attiyah added.

Full diplomatic relations restored

The latest venture in Egypt came after leaders and diplomats of the Gulf Cooperation Council met in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday to sign the much-anticipated Al-Ula Declaration that put an end to the Gulf crisis.

The declaration, signed by the blockading quartet and Qatar, closed a gloomy chapter in GCC relations that posed a serious threat to the unity of the bloc as well as security in the region.

The restoration of relations includes all former blockading countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.

Airspace will now be open to Qatar and relations shall return to normal, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said on Tuesday.

“What happened today is… the closure of the folder of all points of difference and a full return of diplomatic relations,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan told a press conference to conclude the landmark regional summit.

The remarks came just hour after Qatar’s Amir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signed a declaration to end the Gulf dispute during a ceremony at the 41st GCC Summit.

The Al-Ula declaration, signed in the presence of Gulf leaders and senior US advisor, Jared Kushner, ensures the end of the GCC crisis over a shared desire for unity within the council.

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