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   Gulf in $18bn hotel blitz

Dubai and its Gulf Arab neighbours are developing hotels worth about $18 billion, including the world's largest, according to data from a Dubai research firm, as the region uses record oil wealth to diversify its economy.

The UAE is leading the drive, building or planning hotels worth about $12.7 billion, the organisers of a hotel exhibition in Dubai said on Monday, citing data from Dubai-based ProLeads.

Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, "are in the midst of a massive construction boom", Maggie Moore, exhibition director of the Hotel Show 2008, is quoted as saying in a statement.

At 6,500 rooms, Dubai's $1.63 billion Asia-Asia Hotel will overtake Las Vegas's MGM Grand as the world's largest hotel, DMG Media, the organisers of the show, said in the statement.

Abu Dhabi investment agency Mubadala Development Company is developing the region's most expensive hotel, the MGM Grand Hotel complex Abu Dhabi, at a cost of $3 billion, DMG said.

About 100 hotels will open in the UAE by the end of 2010, adding 30,000 rooms, DMG said.

State-owned Dubai World said in August it will invest up to $5.2 billion in MGM Mirage by buying shares and half of a Las Vegas project, making the state-owned investment firm a player in the biggest gambling destination in the US. (Reuters)

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