Ryugyong Hotel, a looming, pyramid-esque construction site that has towered over the skyline of Pyongyang for decades, is finally nearing the end stages of its construction, with reports that the hotel may even be ready for business next year.
The Ryugyoung — affectionately known as the "Hotel of Doom" by observers — is set to be the tallest hotel in the world, and might even be a sign of new, more audacious North Korean capital.
However, the site won't just be a hotel. In an interview with Forbes' Simon Montlake, Egyptian telecom billionaire Naguib Sawiris has confirmed that his North Korean venture would be based in the building.
Sawiris made his billions through the creation of Wind Telecom, which was eventually sold to a Russian group in a deal worth $6.5 billion. He then made an aborted attempt to get involved in Egyptian politics after the fall of Hosni Mubarek, but now appears to be focusing on telecoms ventures again. One of the most important of these ventures is Koryolink, North Korea's only cell network, that Sawiris operates as a joint venture with the North Korean government (with a 75:25 split).
Sawiris has also played a role in the funding of the Ryugyong, with $180 million invested for the building's facade, Bloomberg reported earlier this month.
Koryolink reportedly has over 1 million subscribers in North Korea. It is believed that the North Korean governments acceptance of the technology is part of a bid to increase overseas investment.
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