On a recent trip to North Korea, Naguib Sawiris toured a beverage factory and a dolphinarium.
The founder and executive chairman of Orascom Telecom appears to be quietly courting the last Stalinist state on earth….
Sawiris’ ties with North Korea will be fully exposed when the world’s tallest hotel will open next year in the capital of Pyongyang, Bloomberg reports.[caption id="attachment_940" align="aligncenter" width="442"] Wikipedia Commons, The Ryugyong Hotel, North Korea[/caption]
His company, Orascom Telecom Media & Technology Holding, is funding the hotel as part of a $400 million mobile-phone license it won from the North Korean government in 2008.
Perhaps as some kind of elaborate joke, or outlandish gesture of thanks, the 105-story Ryuguong Hotel is pyramid-shaped.
Even Reto Wittwer, the CEO of the German luxury-hotel operator Kempinski in charge of the management of the hotel calls it a “pyramid monster hotel”.
“I said to myself, we have to get this hotel if there is ever a chance, because this will become a money-printing machine if North Korea opens up,” he said in the Bloomberg report.
It is meant to be a way to help boost foreign currency to North Korea’s totalitarian regime which is burdened by international sanctions.
But what’s in it for Sawiris aside from a reminder of his heritage? There are other upsides the investment.
“Orascom’s investment is compensated by very unique modules,” said Wittwer.
“In North Korea, they compensate with mining rights, raw materials, commodities and commodity exchanges because they don’t have cash.”
Ah, now it all makes sense.