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Kuwait's Al-Aqeelah thinking big in Malaysia

By Roziana Hamsawi
Published: 2008/07/09

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The Kuwaiti group, which will set up an offshore Islamic bank, is planning an aviation academy near Senai Airport and a Scandinavian-Mediterranean style condo project in the Klang Valley

KUWAIT'S Al-Aqeelah Group has big plans for Malaysia, which is now its Asian hub.

Apart from setting up an offshore Islamic bank, it is planning a US$100 million (RM326 million) aviation academy in Johor, the world's biggest, and a luxury property project in the Klang Valley.

Group's chairman and managing director Hamed M. Khajah (above) told reporters at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday that the list will only get longer.

Hamed owns the Al-Aqeelah Group, which has projects worth some US$50 billion (RM163 billion) in the Middle East. Among others, it has a takaful company in Syria and is also building an airport in Iraq.

Bank Negara Malaysia has given the group an approval in-principle to set up an offshore Islamic bank here to be called Al-Aqeelah International Bank. The lender will start business in January next year.

Hamed said the bank will have an initial paid-up capital of US$100 million and will concentrate on three main activities, namely private equity and direct investment, corporate and structured financing, and asset management.

As for the aviation academy, which will be located near Senai Airport, the project has been approved by the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority, he said.

"The initial cost of this project is about US$100 million and we are still in discussion with various parties on some issues such as land acquisition, project partners et cetera," said Hamed.

Some firms based in countries like Australia and Japan have already expressed interest to outsource their training to the academy.

"We have a French technical partner for this academy which can accommodate training for 400 pilots initially," he said.

Al-Aqeelah also plans to build 10,000 luxury Scandinavian-Mediterranean style condominiums in the Klang Valley, a project copied from its current one in Alexandria, Egypt.

The group has identified an unnamed technical partner from Malaysia for its car manufacturing project in Egypt.

"We have many projects in our hands right now and with our entry into Malaysia, we are also looking for good local partners that could work with us not only here but internationally as well," said Hamed.

For the past year, the group's main local consulting, technology and outsourcing partner is the iA Group. Its chief executive officer, Datuk Dr Hamzah Kassim, said the iA group has been advising the Al-Aqeelah group on its local investments.

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