Dubai investor buys into Las Vegas nightclub firm

  • Reuters
  • Wednesday February 20 2008
(Adds details on Light Group)
DUBAI, Feb 20 (Reuters) – Dubai-based Zabeel Investments said on Wednesday it bought 50 percent of Las Vegas-based nightclub and restaurant developer Light Group.
Zabeel is owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed al-Maktoum, one of the sons of the ruler of Dubai, the Financial Times reported in April; he has since been appointed heir-apparent.
Light Group’s properties include Las Vegas Strip nightclubs and bars like the Bare Pool Lounge at the Mirage casino-hotel and The Bank at the Bellagio resort.
“Our goal is to develop the hospitality industry in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and across the region,” Zabeel Executive Chairman Mohammed al-Hashimi said in a statement. Hashimi declined to say how much Zabeel paid for the stake when Reuters called.
Zabeel last year participated in the purchase of an interest in Airbus parent EADS for a fund managed by Dubai International Capital, which Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum owns.
Zabeel said it would help Light Group — which will manage an environmentally friendly hotel brand called Harmon Hotel in Las Vegas — expand its brands across the United States.
Islam forbids investment in companies involved in the production and trading of alcohol, as well as in gambling and pornography.
Andrew Sasson, Light Group’s founder and owner, said in a statement that the deal “will see us escalating our portfolio throughout the U.S. and further afield.”
Investment group Dubai World last year started accumulating shares in MGM Mirage, saying it planned to invest up to $5.2 billion to acquire a 20 percent stake in the world’s second-largest casino operator.
Dubai, home to man-made islands shaped like palm trees and an air-conditioned indoor ski slope in the desert, attracts more tourists each year than any other Arab destination outside Egypt.
Other Dubai investors have also taken an interest in U.S. assets. (Writing by John Irish, with additional reporting by Deena Beasley in Los Angeles; Editing by Paul Bolding and Gerald E. McCormick)

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