DUBAI-Government-owned Tatweer, a unit of Dubai Holding, has announced plans for a AED100-billion ($27.2-billion) hotel development project, named Bawadi, that officials say will become the largest hotel-strip construction in the world. The project will double the emirate’s hotel capacity and spearhead its drive to become a global tourism hub.

Bawadi, which will cover 10 km in the desert outskirts of Dubai, will comprise 31 hotels, including the world’s largest, to be known as Asia Asia. This will total 6,500 rooms, along with 11 other hotels offering a further 16,750 rooms. The entire project will create an extra 29,200 rooms.

Tatweer will manage the project and provide 40% of the AED100 billion ($27.2 billion) investment capital. The government hopes to raise the rest from regional and international investors.

Tatweer chief executive Saeed al-Muntafiq, says Bawadi is designed to meet the surging demand for hotel space in the fast-growing Dubai, which last year attracted six million visitors. By 2016, Bawadi alone will attract 3.3 million guests, 21% of the total number coming to and passing through Dubai.

The project’s first phase—calling for five luxury hotels–will open in 2010. It will be located in Dubailand, a theme-park development also under the control of Tatweer.

In a separate announcement, state-run Dubai World Central, has unveiled plans to invest $33 billion in what officials say will be the world’s largest airport and city in Jebel Ali, home to the region’s biggest free-trade zone. A statement said the multi-phase 140-skm development around the planned international airport will include a cargo city, residential and commercial quarters and a Golf course.

“Dubai World Central International Airport will be the world’s largest with a capacity equal to that currently of Chicago’s O’Hare and London’s Heathrow combined,” it said. “Dubai World Central will be a new city where eventually some 750,000 people will live and work.”

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