Dubai: The Lebanese Pragma Group will invest $100 million (Dh367 million) in the Palladium in Dubai Media City to transform it into a holistic lifestyle venue coupled with a boutique hotel.
"We've been searching for a venue for over a year to become a forum for holistic lifestyle concepts, including entertainment and sports. The Palladium's space and location represented 90 per cent of what we were looking for," said Joe Tabet, chairman of Pragma Group.
The Palladium is currently used as a multi-purpose venue for performances, exhibitions and other events. Current events will run on for as long as possible whilst Pragma converts the building taking about a year.
The new concept, Tabet said, is currently being fine-tuned and without revealing too much will take on a more homogenous feel focusing on the latest lifestyle activities supporting body, mind and spirit. And adapting to its surroundings will be accessible to mid-to high-end customers.
"People want to party in their own style and live a healthy lifestyle. They will be able to do both in the same place," he explained.
One could imagine having a good time and then go off to relax in a spa for example, a boutique hotel, several international operators under consideration, will be at hand.
The Pragma group is investing $100 million in this venture, including the acquisition of the building and its development. Tabet said the Palladium was bought from a group of UAE institutional investors but would not reveal the price.
He wouldn't reveal the new name for the venue either, but confirmed that Pragma now owns the building outright.
"In future we may not own the whole building. We'll be launching a Pragma fund, worth $200 million in September covering our international expansion plans like Cavalli as well.
"We look for local partners in international ventures so wouldn't own more than 50 per cent of a building," Tabet said.
The Pragma Group is not interested investing in real estate as such but is in the process of streamlining its portfolio and venture capital investments, comprising over 10 companies turning over $300 million a year and another nine related companies turning over $150 million.
Pragma concepts to be expanded include the Health Factory into Saudi Arabia and Egypt this year and Club 400 into major cities, starting off in Sardinia at the Billionaires Club. The Cavalli Club is to expand from its Dubai home base to Beirut, Istanbul, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur and Moscow. And the Cavalli cafés, a reduced concept of the club, will make its first appearance in Florence and will then be rolled out in the GCC and the Levant. Tabet is optimistic, expecting Far Eastern and European investors to bite onto the fund, and is already looking in Abu Dhabi for a venue to repeat his new holistic lifestyle concept there.