Aboud eyes Marina

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Shane Ni­chols

SYR­IAN bil­lion­aire Ghas­san Aboud is be­lieved to be close to an­nounc­ing plans for a ma­jor new re­sort at the Reef Marina.

Ru­mours about a pos­si­ble new de­vel­op­ment at the Reef Marina have been cir­cu­lat­ing for some time, with prom­i­nent busi­ness­man John Mor­ris also be­lieved to be a key fig­ure in the deal.

The two busi­ness­men are well known to each other.

Nearly two years ago the 49-year-old Syr­ian ex­pat bought Mr Mor­ris’s Crys­tal­brook cat­tle sta­tion and up­mar­ket re­sort and his cruiser MV Ba­hama, based in Port Dou­glas.

Since then he had has lit up the prop­erty scene in Cairns with swift progress on three new ho­tel de­vel­op­ments, badged as the Crys­tal­brook Col­lec­tion and worth more than $370 mil­lion.

The Gazette has seen a let­ter to the CEO of Mr Aboud’s GA Group Aus­tralia in Cairns, Mark Davie, from the mayor of Port Dou­glas, Ju­lia Leu.

The let­ter, dated June 14, 2017, is headed “Re: GA Group – Po­ten­tial In­vest­ment in Port Dou­glas”.

In the let­ter, the mayor says, “I re­fer to our re­cent meet­ing with the Prime Group” – the Cairns con­struc­tion com­pany work­ing on GA Group’s ho­tel projects – “who de­tailed the in­ter­est of GA Group in in­vest-

-ing in a Ho­tel De­vel­op­ment within The Reef Marina Precinct. I wish to thank you for the meet­ing and the op­por­tu­nity to hear about your com­pany’s plans.

“My Coun­cil wel­comes in­vest­ment in­ter­est in our Shire and we look for­ward to work­ing pos­i­tively with you on your pro­posed projects,” the mayor said.

“We have watched your com­mit­ment to pro­gress­ing your projects in Cairns with great in­ter­est.”

The let­ter goes on: “As we ex­plained to your rep­re­sen­ta­tives at our meet­ing, we do con­sider our­selves as the guardians of a very spe­cial part of the world in Dou­glas Shire, and again re­spect­fully take this op­por­tu­nity to high­light the pri­or­ity that we give to en­vi­ron­men­tal and ap­pro­pri­ate de­sign out­comes in all plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tions.

“An in­vest­ment of this scale in Port Dou­glas is of great in­ter­est to Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil and we look for­ward to re­ceiv­ing your pro­posal.”

Mr Aboud, who stud­ied jour­nal­ism and runs his own me­dia group, ap­pears to have made a con­sid­er­able for­tune from his Dubai-based Aboud Car Group, claimed to be the “world’s lead­ing ex­porter of cars”.

Mr Mor­ris sold his equity share in the $380 mil­lion Mt Emer­ald more than a year ago and since then has done his Crys­tal­brook deal with Mr Aboud and pushed ahead with de­vel­op­ing his Choo Choo’s precinct at St Crispin’s, where the first wed­ding at the café was held re­cently.

He has also bought the for­mer Hog’s Breath restau­rant premises at the Bally Hoo­ley ter­mi­nus at the Marina, with plans to turn it into an­oth­ery eatery with Choo Choo’s brand­ing.

An in­vest­ment of this scale in Port Dou­glas is of great in­ter­est to Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil

Mayor Ju­lia Leu

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