- Dubai World and the government of Benin have entered negotiations to develop large-scale tourist attractions in the West African country, including a 32 km beachfront development and building of an international hotel in the capital city of Porto Novo.
Benin was chosen for major investments by the leading global holding company after its Chairman, Mr Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem and a team of senior officials from various group companies, including James Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai World Africa, the group's investment arm in the continent.
The company's executive team also discussed potential business partnership opportunities with the President of Benin, Boni Yayi.
"The steadily growing trade relations between Dubai and Benin are encouraging," Mr Sulayem concurred. "This gives confidence to Dubai World to engage in business ventures with Benin, which has high growth potential in West Africa."
He hailed President Yayi's "efforts to give a new focus for the country's economy with farsighted plans for overall development."
"Benin has made impressive economic recovery in recent years and is now poised for a future that holds huge promise. The government's policy on clear governance, liberalization and privatisation has provided the economy the much needed vigour for growth. This is the kind of investment atmosphere that Dubai World is searching for," he said.
For Mr. James Wilson, the the Benin partnership will provide Dubai World Africa with another opportunity to shape eco-tourism in the continent.
"The involvement of Dubai World Africa in the masterplanning of the beachfront and the development of game parks, will not only boost the country's tourism industry, but will also preserve the unique qualities of Benin's natural beauty," he said.
"Dubai World Africa will be sending wildlife and ecology experts from it existing game reserves in South Africa to Benin to evaluate its national parks. This is in keeping with the group's strategy to rehabilitate, develop and manage high-end game reserves across the African continent, demand for Eco-tourism and adventure tourism has shown a 90% growth over the past 5 years and is growing by 20% per annum," he said.
Dubai World has also shown interest in the international port of Cotonou on the Atlantic coast, which has modern facilities and is a key trade gateway to the West African market.
The group's flagship marine terminal operator, DP World, is said to be looking at the prospect of investing in port management and a possible free zone, areas where the group has stamped its seal of excellence across the world. The port handles trade in cotton, crude oil and palm products among other things.
Dubai World Africa's major projects in the continent include the world-class Shamwari Game Reserve, Sanbona Wildlife Reserve and Jock Safari Lodge in South Africa.
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