Dubai: Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Founding Chairman of Al Habtoor Group (AHG), one of the largest privately-owned business conglomerates in the region, said the first quarter of 2021 fared better-than-expected thanks to the post-pandemic recovery in the UAE.
Al Habtoor said AHG took measures early in 2020 to ensure it could withstand the fallout from Covid-19, which is still impacting much of the world, including industrialised nations.
“The Covid-19 pandemic, which took the world by storm, took everyone by surprise. It was something no country was prepared for, let alone companies or individuals. Many industries around the globe were brought to a standstill or faced complete collapse, particularly the travel and tourism industry,” he said.
A ‘boom’ in staycations has been a contributing factor in the resurgence of hotel occupancy rates in Dubai, which reached 71 per cent in December, the highest level since February 2020; oscillating between 50 and 70 per cent over the past three months throughout the Emirates.
Al Habtoor noted that the real estate sector in Dubai recorded strong sales growth of 17 per cent in January 2021 compared to the same period a year earlier.
“We have seen solid growth in our real estate division, achieving a more than 300 per cent surge in the volume of sales compared to the same time last year. This growth is being driven by investor confidence in the Dubai Real Estate market and the superior quality of the product,” said Al Habtoor.
Al Habtoor said that UAE’s hospitality sector has managed to withstand the impact of the pandemic to regain a healthy level of business and noted that his hotels have witnessed a steady rise in occupancy rates.
“A ‘boom’ in staycations has been a contributing factor in the resurgence of hotel occupancy rates in Dubai, which reached 71 per cent in December, the highest level since February 2020; oscillating between 50 and 70 per cent over the past three months throughout the Emirates,” he said.
He acknowledged that it was hard to see hotels close their doors at the start of the COVID-19 crisis, with hotel lobbies looking like ghost towns. He said the UAE’s success is down to the excellent crisis management and transparency of the authorities, as well as the collaboration between the private and public sector.
Al Habtoor said other parts of the business are faring well. The Group’s car leasing business, Diamondlease, increased its fleet size by 24 per cent to reach more than 10,000 vehicles in the period from March 2020 to March 2021, with 90 per cent utilization. He also noted strong results at Al Habtoor Motors, which match pre-pandemic numbers, and increased demand at Emirates International Schools.