The Hilton Dubai Creek ... DEPA project.

DEPA/Arabtec Interiors, a specialist in interior contracting for five-star hotels, is steadily making its mark in hotels across the region.

Having completed major interior projects for the Burj Al Arab and The Fairmont Dubai in the UAE, it is now working on another imposing project in the country - the Grand Hyatt in Dubai, which is due to open by the end of this year.

Elsewhere in the region, DEPA is busy with JW Marriott Mirage City in Cairo and the Four Seasons Nile, both in Egypt, and the Four Seasons Doha in Qatar.

Growing from strength to strength, the company has offices now in the UAE (Dubai and Abu Dhabi), Egypt (Cairo), Italy (Milan), Jordan (Amman) and Turkmenistan (Askabat).

DEPA Interiors is part of DEPA Holdings, a group that includes interior contracting, joinery factories, a quality fit-out yacht division and is supported by design and logistics facilities. In addition, DEPA now has a new division offering finance and investment facilities for new projects.

The company has set a goal to increase its visibility and promote its steady growth, which is reflected in its repeat sponsorship of the DEPA Middle East Hotel Awards, held at the Semiramis Intercontinental Hotel in Cairo.

In its second year, the interest and attendance of many major hotel groups consolidated this prestigious event, the company says.

According to the firm, the aim of the awards is to raise awareness of the standards and service of the ever-increasing number of quality hotels across the region, quality and high standards being part of DEPA's motto.

Accompanying the event, a seminar was held at the JW Marriott Mirage City with two sessions entitled 'Reactivating Tourism in the Middle East' and 'Finance and Investment in hotel projects.'

At the seminar, Mounir Ghabbour, chairman and CEO of Mirage Corporation, voiced hope for a brighter future for the hotel industry.

Also at the event, after much discussion on ways to survive the September 11 aftermath on the tourist industry, it was agreed that a concerted approach by all sectors was needed to tackle the problems and implement solutions. In particular, the Press was urged not to report unspecific news about the Middle East, as it is a large region and most destinations are safe for tourists, the company reports. Dubai was held up as a model of success, which other countries could learn from.

At the event, DEPA presented its new venture in financing and investments for projects. Dr Fawaz Sabri, who is in charge of the new venture, explained that DEPA could now arrange finance for FF&E (furniture, fixtures and equipment) projects where the owners were unable to complete their projects due to short-term financial difficulties.

The strength of DEPA's financing package is that it does not require any bank guarantee additional or mortgage on the project, the company explains. Working to strict eligibility criteria, with feasibility studies to assess whether the project would be able to generate enough income to pay back the loan over the credit duration and assurance that the terms of loan are acceptable, DEPA says it has been successful in arranging finance for a handful of projects since the commencement of the venture over the past year.

In certain cases, DEPA says it can offer an FF&E lease agreement to the hotel owners where the advantages are that they provide better financial terms and conditions since the FF&E title stays with the financier until the final loan settlement; it eases the balance sheet of the owner; it makes possible the replacement of FF&E and also provides for lease renewal; and finally, the advantageous terms of maintenance and replacement contracts produce a saving in maintenance costs and expenses.

In the UAE, DEPA has executed work on the Hilton Dubai Creek, The Fairmont Dubai, the Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Ritz Carlton, Al Bustan Rotana Dubai, Rotana Al Ain, the Renaissance, Al Nahel Palace and the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (Adwea).

In Oman, it has done work on the Grand Hyatt Muscat and the SAS Radisson Muscat, while in Bahrain it undertook renovation work on the Sheraton Bahrain.

Its major projects in Egypt include the Crowne Plaza Sharm El Sheikh, Sheraton Alexandria, J W Marriott Mirage City Cairo, Hilton Luxor, and Four Seasons Sharm El Sheikh.

In Jordan, it has worked on the Sheraton, Grand Hyatt, InterContinental and Le Royale Amman.

Elsewhere, it has been involved with the Marriott Athens in Greece, Hilton hotels in Guam and Japan (Nagoya Osaka), the Sheraton Helsinki in Finland, the SAS Radisson Cannes in France and the Radisson Orlando in the US.