Central American magazine El Economista has named Abdul Waked as Panama’s Businessman of the Year. The award, announced February 20 in the Jan/Feb issue of the magazine, acknowledges the success of Grupo Wisa’s retailing activities in 14 countries across Central and South America; and recognizes the development of the $350m Soho Complex in downtown Panama City. The 80,000 sqm two tower development – which Mr. Waked has described as the main commercial investment project in the country after the Canal– includes the first Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Central America, a casino, residential and office accommodation and a 34,000sqm shopping mall.
The luxury mall will be the biggest attraction of the Soho development and is expected to open within weeks along with the first tower of office accommodation. The hotel, casino and second tower are scheduled to open in 2016.
Abdul Waked commented, “We will have the best premium brands in the world. This will be a different mall. [Panama] is of the richest countries in the world, and I wanted to bring the best to Panama. The project was designed to be the most luxurious mall in Latin America.”
Looking ahead, Waked said there were two important decisions to make for the future of the group – how to go forward with planned investments in Chile and in Brazil. In both cases Waked is looking at purchasing businesses that are already established.