Hospitality projects to look forward to in the Middle East

Naim Maadad explains the many reasons to be optimistic amid the pandemic

Expo 2020

There is no doubt that the pandemic has put brakes on many of the hotel development projects globally. In this perspective, the Middle East is no exception. Does it mean all gloom for the industry? Well, not at all. As per the estimates of Top Hotel Projects, there are 632 hotels and 192,417 rooms in the active project pipeline in the Middle East.

The pandemic has slowed the pace of development for sure. Many of the said projects are currently on hold as a direct result of the freeze in economy, and huge restrictions in airline travel globally.

How the global economy pans out in the short-, mid- and long-term is anyone’s guess. Brand and hospitality infrastructure developers remain optimistic for the post-pandemic period and are estimating there will not be more than a six-month delay in the projects. Only time will tell if that plays out.

What we can do is look at the hotel projects in the pipeline for the period ahead and monitor the turn of events with an optimistic and positive outlook.

We can expect the postponed Expo 2020 (due to start in Q4 2021) to be the catalyst to rejuvenate the economy of Dubai in particular and UAE in general.

In 2020, 219 hotels with 61,153 rooms were planned, but most will be delayed until 2021. In addition, in 2021, 157 hotels with 48,917 rooms were in the pipeline. Another 88 hotels were planned to open in 2022 and add 28,169 rooms to the regional inventory. Then, in 2023, 41 hotels are estimated, with 127 in the plan for 2024 and beyond.

Saudi Arabia has 162 hotels and 70,854 rooms in the pipeline, Turkey has 45 and Oman has 35. Bahrain has 14 hotels in the works and Kuwait has 13.

Hilton is investing heavily in the region and its brands have taken over the top three positions of the Middle East hotel brand leader board. DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Hilton Garden Inn will launch 18, 17 and 14 hotels respectively.

Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts will open 12 new hotels. Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts, the Address Hotels & Resorts, Radisson Hotels & Resorts and Courtyard by Marriott will each grow their footprints by 12 properties. Radisson Blu Hotels & Resorts and Novotel will each celebrate 11 launches.

The largest hotel in the world is also expected to open in 2021 – the 9,760-room Abraj Kudai Towers in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. The 1.4m sqm development will house residential units, five-star hotels and a variety of commercial and leisure zones. Its proximity to the Holy Kaaba will make this property an attractive destination for religious travellers visiting the Holy City for their pilgrimage.

The 1,490-room Jabal Omar Address Makkah is another imposing project just steps away from the Grand Mosque with two identical towers linked by a sky bridge. It will include a mall, leisure and lifestyle facilities and prayer rooms.

The 641-room Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island Resort will be on Yas Bay, an area which is anticipated to become one of the region’s most iconic and vibrant waterfront destinations. The resort’s facilities will include a multi-purpose conference centre, seven dining outlets and an innovative urban beach concept with an infinity pool suspended above the Arabian Gulf. Large-scale events in the nearby Yas Arena will attract visitors and overnight guests.

Miral and Warner Bros are opening the world’s first Warner Bros hotel on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi in 2021. The $112m The WB Abu Dhabi will boast Warner Bros décor. It is now 40 percent complete.

There are truly exciting times ahead and a lot to look forward to.

*With more than 28 years of hospitality experience globally, Naim Maadad is the founding CEO of Gates Hospitality, which owns and operates Ultra Brasserie, Bistro des Arts, Reform Social & Grill, Publique and Folly by Nick & Scott. The company also has ownership of Six Senses Zighy Bay.*

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