From: Reuters
Published December 3, 2007 05:29 AM

Dubai leads $18 bln Gulf Arab hotel drive

DUBAI (Reuters) - Dubai and its Gulf Arab neighbors are developing hotels worth about $18 billion, including the world's largest, according to data from a Dubai research firm, as the region uses record oil wealth to diversify its economy.

The United Arab Emirates federation, of which Dubai is the second-largest member, is leading the drive, building or planning hotels worth about $12.7 billion, the organizers of a hotel exhibition in Dubai said on Monday, citing data from Dubai-based ProLeads.

Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, "are in the midst of a massive construction boom," Maggie Moore, exhibition director of the Hotel Show 2008, is quoted as saying in a statement.

At 6,500 rooms, Dubai's $1.63 billion Asia-Asia Hotel will overtake Las Vegas's MGM Grand as the world's largest hotel, DMG Media, the organizers of the show, said in the statement.

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Abu Dhabi investment agency Mubadala Development Co is developing the region's most expensive hotel, the MGM Grand Hotel complex Abu Dhabi, at a cost of $3 billion, DMG said.

About 100 hotels will open in the UAE by the end of 2010, adding 30,000 rooms, DMG said.

Dubai World said in August it will invest up to $5.2 billion in MGM Mirage <MGM.N> by buying shares and half of a Las Vegas project, making the state-owned investment firm a player in the biggest gambling destination in the United States.

(Writing by James Cordahi; Editing by Rory Channing)

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