Saudi billionaire buys half of Meridian
Lebanon, Business, 10/17/1997
Saudi billionaire Prince Al-Waleed BinTalal on Wednesday announced the purchase of half of the unfinished Meridian hotel and finalized his deal with Solidere, the company in charge of rebuilding central Beirut, to construct a Four Seasons hotel in the downtown district.
"I came to visit the prime minister to explore avenues of cooperation on various levels," he said after meeting Rafik Hariri, during a fleeting visit to Lebanon.
The Four Seasons hotel will cost between $75 m and $100 m, he said. "God willing, construction will begin next year and be completed in three years."
"There is no doubt that each trip I make, I find significant progress in the country and I hope to see more of the same on my next trip," he added. The Meridian, on Beirut's Raouche seafront, will be renamed the Moevenpick after an agreement was concluded with the owners. The 302-room hotel will include 71 chalets, 1,100 beach club cabins and a 40-store shopping center.
Al-Waleed, a nephew of Saudi Arabia's King Fahd, did not disclose the cost of the hotel. But media reports had estimated the hotel would cost $75 million.
The prince's plans for high-profile investment in Lebanon, his mother's native country, began earlier this year when he bought a stake in Lebanon Invest, one of the country's leading financial institutions. At the time, he pledged to assist in the country's reconstruction process.
He has extensive investment in the entertainment industry in the Arab world, the US, Canada and Europe.
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