Lebanese businessman Amine Moukarzel storms the Syrian hotel market

The opening of the Golden Mazzeh hotel in Damascus - 11 October 2022 (SANA)

The opening of the Golden Mazzeh hotel in Damascus - 11 October 2022 (SANA)

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Enab Baladi – Jana al-Issa

The Syrian regime’s Prime Minister Hussein Arnous inaugurated on 11 October the five-star Golden Mazzeh hotel on the Mazzeh highway of Damascus under the management of the Flamingo Hospitality company, which owns a chain of hotels in a number of countries.

The opening of the hotel, which was set up as a hotel investment for the benefit of the Teachers Syndicate in the eastern Mazzeh Villas area, included raising the curtain, behind which was written that the opening of the hotel was under the patronage of the regime’s head Bashar al-Assad, without revealing the identity of the investor.

According to the statement of the Minister of Tourism, Mohammad Rami Martini, to the government newspaper, al-Thawra, the investment cost of the hotel amounted to 36 billion Syrian pounds, explaining that it was agreed that the Central Teachers’ Syndicate (Teachers Pension Fund) would receive 10.5% of its revenues, with a minimum of 1050,000000 SYP paid annually to the union, according to the largest amount between them.

The new hotel consists of 111 rooms and suites, divided into two levels, “Deluxe” and “Businessmen,” ten restaurants and bars with various specialties, in addition to a swimming pool, a gym, a banquet hall, and three rooms for meetings and various events, one of which is a theater.

The opening of the Golden Mazzeh hotel in Damascus - 11 October 2022 (Nabel Khaddour)

The opening of the Golden Mazzeh hotel in Damascus – 11 October 2022 (Nabel Khaddour)

Who is the investor of the hotel?

The official website of the Golden Mazzeh hotel shows that the name of the hotel is linked to the Flamingo Hospitality Management Company, while the media close to the regime said that the company is managing the hotel only, without mentioning that it is the investor.

In March 2019, the Syrian Tourism Ministry issued a modified tourist employment license for the hotel itself, which is owned by the social solidarity fund of the Teachers Syndicate, but with a four-star standard.

The ministry’s announcement included that the company that will invest in the hotel is the Mawiyah Tourism Investments Limited Liability Company and managed by the Golden Tulip company, and its investment cost at the time was one thousand billion and 600 Syrian pounds.

The Internal Trade ministry approved in June 2015 the establishment of the Mawiyah Company for Tourism Investments Limited Liability in Damascus, with a founding capital of 4 million SYP.

According to the incorporation decision, the company’s goal is to establish, invest and operate tourist facilities and import, export and distribute all permitted materials, except for housing construction, selling, or trading.

According to the decision, the founders of the company are Munther Rami Nuzha, Majid Rami Nuzha, Murhaf Rami Nuzha, and Mona Rami Nuzha, each with a 25% stake in it.

Enab Baladi searched for Golden Tulip and Flamingo Hospitality Management Company, and it turned out that the owner is Amine Elias Moukarzel, a 68-year-old Lebanese businessman based in the UAE.

Vice President of Flamingo Hospitality, Paul Diab, said in a press statement during the opening of the Golden Mazzeh hotel on 11 October, “We are proud of opening the first hotel for Flamingo in the heart of the Syrian capital, noting that the company is working on opening other hotels in Damascus and other Syrian cities, he said.

Diab explained that the company chose Syria because of its “confidence with the hotel owners that tourism and life will return to it in the near future.”

The opening of the Golden Mazzeh hotel in Damascus - 11 October 2022 (Nabel Khaddour)

The opening of the Golden Mazzeh hotel in Damascus – 11 October 2022 (Nabel Khaddour)

In an interview with the pro-regime al-Watan newspaper, the Minister of Tourism said that the trial opening of the Semiramis Hotel will take place early next year, adding that the hotel, which is currently under renovation, is owned by the Hijaz Railway Corporation, with annual revenues amounting to one billion Syrian pounds.

Martini explained that the investor of the Semiramis Hotel is the same as the company that invests in the Golden Mazzeh Hotel, with the same investment mechanism.

The minister added that the management of the Golden Mazzeh hotel will be an “international company, with a French general manager,” without naming him.

Who is Amine Moukarzel

Amine Elias Moukarzel is a Lebanese businessman, born in 1954 and residing between the UAE and Lebanon. He is the founder and president of Flamingo Hospitality Management Company since 1998 in the UAE.

Moukarzel has 43 years of experience in hotel and restaurant management. He holds a doctorate in hotel management in 1998 from Kennedy University in the United States and completed postgraduate studies in hotel management in 1982 at Cornell University in the United States.

According to the Arabian Hospitality Investment Conference, Moukarzel is a recognized stalwart of the Middle East hospitality industry. He was the driving force behind the launch of some of the most successful hotels in the region, including the Crowne Plaza hotels in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Amine Moukarzel decided it was time to create his own regionally inspired hospitality projects and to establish a company called Flamingo Hospitality Management Company which was born in 1998 with three employees, and today the company operates throughout the Middle East & North Africa region, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan with more than 60 hotels.

Amine is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including Hotelier Middle East (ranked as Top 9) and Hotelier Express Middle East, ranked as Top 6 in 2017. He is a veteran lecturer, speaker at major universities, trade shows, conferences, and symposiums, the latest speaker at the Association of the Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCAME) in Barcelona, as well as a speaker in Georgia at the Hotel Management Conference.

Amine is an advisory board member of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference and the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management. He is the Vice President of the Mediterranean Hotels and Restaurant Association (MHRA) and the Vice President – Middle East of International Hotels and Restaurant Association (IHRA) which is affiliated with UNWTO. He is also a board member of the Al Hokair Group of Tourism and Development, in addition to his position as the President of Louvre Hotels Group/Golden Tulip MENA and Flamingo Hospitality Management. Also, he is a board member of the Lebanese American University (LAU).

 

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