BY SHAME MAKOSHORI
Prince Sultan Khalil Ibrahim Albalishi, the billionaire founder and chief executive officer of Dubai-based Rind Properties, disclosed Thursday that he was targeting deals in Zimbabwe’s real estate and aviation sectors, as he arrived to meet authorities in Harare.
Albalishi, who had already lodged investment proposals with the Zimbabwe Investment Development Authority (Zida) ahead of his arrival, said he was also keen to explore opportunities in the southern African country’s mining industry.
The youthful tycoon is a member of one of UAE’s ultra-rich royal families.
He has already established a real estate empire with a footprint in major global markets.
In an interview with Standardbusiness after touching down at the Robert Mugabe International Airport, Albalishi said his decision to join a string of UAE tycoons who have been scouting for opportunities in the country came out after visiting the Zimbabwean pavilion at the Dubai Expo, an international exhibition that has just ended.
He said he has options to visit Kenya and South Africa, but he chose Zimbabwe following advice from a local pilot who works at Emirates, the global airline.
“The purpose of this trip is to look for opportunities in real estate, mining and aviation — the commercial and private side of aviation, including establishing a flight school in Zimbabwe which will be the first of its kind,” Albalishi said, speaking through a local representative.
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“We had engagements at Dubai expo. The value of the proposal (lodged with Zida) is that it will bring change here in Zimbabwe.
“Right now after the Zida clearance I am sure everything would flow as planned. We are looking at about a week (time for clearance).
Albalishi’s Ring Properties has expended out of its roots in Dubai to clinch deals in several global markets, including in France, the United States of America, Lebanon, Kuwait, Algeria, Libya and in Britain.
His ambition is to replicate the firm’s success elsewhere on the Zimbabwean market.
He joins several companies from Dubai who have recently trooped to Zimbabwe to exploit deals in several industries, encouraged by improved access since Emirates launched flights into Harare about a decade ago.
Zimbabwe has also been on an offensive to establish stronger diplomatic and trade links between the two countries, and trade between the two countries has increased significantly in the past ten years.
One of the biggest Dubai transactions involved Albwardy Investments, which in 2020 took full control of Meikles Hotel after pouring US$20 million to run the iconic facility.
The transaction, which had been on the radar for years, was concluded after more than 70% of Meikles Limited shareholders backed.
Albwardy, which has presence in over 20 countries with a total workforce of 10 000 across the world, undertook to spend US$30 million in face-lifting the 312-room hotel.
It is a holding company founded in 1976 by United Arab Emirates national, Ali Saeed Juma Albwardy.
In 2020, its annual turnover was said to be in excess of US$1 billion.