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Qatar funds to build Harrods hotels in Malaysia, Paris, UK

KUALA LUMPUR -- Gas-rich Qatar's sovereign wealth fund plans to build luxury hotels in Malaysia, Paris, London and China named after Harrods, the world-famous department store, a report said Wednesday.

Under a US$636 million plan Qatar Holding will partner a local Malaysian firm Jerantas to construct a hotel in Kuala Lumpur's golden triangle's shopping district of Bukit Bintang.

Construction work is expected to begin next year on the development, which will comprise up to 300 hotel rooms, apartments and retail space covering a 5.5-acre (2.2-hectare) site, the Star newspaper said.

“We are looking to invest more in Malaysia because we believe the local economy will grow over the next two years at around 5 percent,” Qatar Holding Vice Chairman Hussain Ali al-Abdulla said.

Besides London where a Harrods hotel would be opened, Qatar Holding said: “The target plan is to open Harrods hotels in key cities such as Kuala Lumpur, New York and Paris as well as China.

“Preference will be given to construct on sites already owned by Qatar Holding ... for example at Chelsea Barracks in London or Costa Smeralda in Sardinia,” it said in a statement Tuesday.

Qatar Holding bought Harrods in 2010 and plans to establish a hotel management company to conduct feasibility studies as part of a decision-making process to select suitable sites around the world for development of Harrods hotel properties.

“Qatar Holding ultimately intends to grow Harrods into a global enterprise that defines the luxury retail and leisure sectors,” it said.

Egyptian-born businessman Mohamed al-Fayed previously owned the popular London department store.

In April SWF declared assets under management had far exceeded US$100 billion.

It was one of the high-powered cornerstone investors in the recent listing of Malaysian palm oil giant Felda Global, the world's second-largest IPO this year.

Qatar, a member of the oil cartel OPEC, celebrated in 2011 raising its production capacity of LNG to 77 million tons annually, boosting its position as the world's largest producer. It pumps some 800,000 barrels per day of oil.

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