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Saudi royal boss to invest $300 million in Turkey, shifting away from unrest

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A Saudi hotel developer will invest $300 million in Turkey, to increase the number of his company’s “My Tuana” hotels, the Hurriyet Daily News website reported on Tuesday.

Increasing interest in Turkey has been the result of a recent tourist influx into the country after the Arab Spring unrest had hit popular Middle East tourist destinations throughout 2011.

Bander bin Fahd al-Fehaid, the chairman of the Arab Tourism Organization (ATO) and member of the Saudi royal family, has said that by the end of 2012 the number of his hotels in Turkey will rise to 20 and grow to 50 in five years.

Agreements regarding four hotels have been inked, said Turkish businessman Mehmet Yücel, al-Fehaid’s partner, adding that talks for another seven hotels were in progress.

“The chain will grow to 50 hotels in five years. Some of the hotels will be built from scratch,” Yücel said, noting that all the hotels would be in the five-star category.

“All of the ‘My Tuana’ hotels will feature salt rooms, salt treatments, salt massage, salt water therapy,” al-Fehaid said. “We combine salt treatment with thermal water treatment.”

Revenues for Middle Eastern businesses in tourism and hospitality sectors have suffered an estimated $10 billion loss during the political unrest, figures from the recent the ATO meeting in Egypt revealed.

As an upshot, many businesses – once heavily operating in the region – have been increasingly shifting their investments to Turkey, the newspaper reported.

As part of the ATO investment initiative towards Turkey, the first Turkish-Arab Travel and Tourism conference will be organized in the western province of Bursa from April 13 and 20.

According to the Hurriyet, Some 400 Arab investors are expected to participate and could yield significant investment decisions. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is also scheduled to attend the event.

(Written by Eman El-Shenawi)