With almost 100 active hotel deals in the Middle East and North Africa pipeline, Hilton has ambitious expansion plans.
In July 2018, Hilton made the global debut of its luxury collection brand LXR Hotels and Resorts with the re-branding of Habtoor Palace, LXR Hotels and Resorts in Habtoor City.
In March 2019, Hilton announced the introduction of its lifestyle brand Canopy by Hilton to open at the Avenues – Riyadh, with an expected opening date of 2023.
The company also opened the Middle East and North Africa’s first Hampton by Hilton property in September of 2018. A master development agreement with Alshaya Group to launch and develop 70 Hampton by Hilton hotels in the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and Russia was announced this past July.
With the first hotel expected to open in Kuwait in 2021, Under Ajami’s leadership, Hilton’s footprint in KSA is rapidly expanding. With 13 hotels in operation and 41 in the pipeline in KSA, Hilton is set to quadruple its presence in that country alone over the next five years. In addition to this, Kamel oversees Hilton’s hotels across the Levant region. He has also overseen the successful opening of Hilton Beirut Downtown last year, joining two other Hilton properties in Lebanon’s capital.
When talking about Hilton’s plans for the future, besides expansion, Ajami claims to focus on his team and developing ‘young talent’. He said: “At Hilton, we have already made impressive progress towards Saudisation and other nationalisation agendas when it comes to resourcing and staffing our hotels.
The next level we need to get to is nurturing these individuals to become not just great Team Members but also leaders who are going to safeguard the future of our industry and the rich tradition and heritage of hospitality that exists within Arab culture.”
Some of the positive initiatives taken by Hilton is the partnership with the government on HR programmes in KSA and collaborating with the Queen of Jordan on an effort to see the establishment of a hospitality university and a youth job service.
The brand is also working to attract more females to careers in the hospitality industry and help its own female Team Members reach leadership positions through various management development programmes.