Complete Property Market Updates of Singapore

May 12, 2008

HPL in frame as Libya seeks more hotels

Filed under: General,Hotel,World Property — Propertymarketupdates @ 1:50 am

THE North African country of Libya needs an extra 40,000 hotel rooms as it faces a massive influx of foreign businessmen and tourists after trade sanctions were lifted about four years ago, according to its tourism ministry.

And Ong Beng Seng’s Hotel Properties Ltd is said to be one of the companies in talks on hotel projects to help meet the demand. Libya now has only 12,000 hotel rooms.

‘The country has 2,000 miles of coastline and white beaches – and not a single beach resort,’ said Louis Tay, deputy regional director for the Middle East, Africa and South-east Asia at Surbana International Consultants.

He is part of a 20-strong business delegation in Libya accompanying an official trip by Senior Minister Goh  Chok Tong and National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan.

Mr Goh met with the chairman of the Libyan National Oil Corporation Shukri Ghanem to discuss the future direction of the Libyan economy.

Mr Mah, who met four ministers from Libya yesterday morning, said that representatives from Singapore would likely visit the country again in June to tie up agreements over investment guarantees and avoidance of double taxation. He added that Libya was looking to tap Singaporean expertise in building townships and free trade zones near the main cities of Tripoli and Benghazi, where infrastructure has been stretched by the burgeoning population.

Teng Theng Dar, chief executive officer of the Singapore Business Federation, said: ‘As a businessman, you love a virgin market where the space for growth is tremendous. Libya fits that description.’ The biggest challenge, he said, is knowing the market.

Mr Tay said that one factor holding back Singapore companies is a preference to engage Western companies. ‘This is an old issue,’ he said. ‘When we first entered the Middle East, clients had a preference for Western consultants. But through our hard work, we established ourselves and managed to neutralise the preference.’

One way to get around the problem is to ‘hunt in packs’, according to him. So Surbana is in ‘friendly discussions’ with HPL, ST Electronics and Boustead on collaborating in Libya. Boustead chairman Wong Fong Fui is visiting the country as part of the business delegation.

‘We need time to explore further,’ Mr Tay said. ‘I won’t be surprised if it takes one or two years before anything materialises.’

Mr Teng said: ‘The hardware is in place in Libya. All they need is the software and an integrated approach to developing the whole tourism sector.’ This is something that Singapore can provide, he said.

Source : Business Times – 7 May 2008


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