Each week, HotelNewsNow.com provides a news roundup for a different global region. Today’s roundup comprises Middle East/Africa.
Jabal Omar planning 10 Mecca hotel towers
Jabal Omar Development Company intends to open 10 hotel towers in Mecca during 2013 in an attempt to accommodate an expected increase in Islamic pilgrims, according to Bloomberg.
The company is developing 2.2 million square meters (24 million square feet) of land near the Grand Mosque, Sameer Al-Quraishi, executive general director of Jabal Omar, said. The site was designed to include 38 hotel towers and the country’s biggest shopping mall.
“Saudi Arabia is aiming to increase the number of people who are allowed to perform the annual pilgrimage,” Al-Quraishi said. “It’s also mostly trying to accommodate more religious visitors and that will surely increase demand for hotels.”
Qatar on hotel spending spree
The Qatar Investment Authority has been busy gobbling up hotel investments. This year alone, Qatar's hotel owner and developer Katara Hospitality has bought two flagship Raffles hotels in Singapore and Paris and also is set to buy four luxury hotels in France from Starwood Capital for $940 million. While Qatar Holding will own the hotels, it will ask U.S. hotel group Hyatt to manage them, according to the French newspaper Le Figaro.
The QIA is also looking to acquire a portfolio of 42 U.K.-based Marriott hotels in a deal worth up to approximately $1.1 billion, according to The Sunday Times.
“Qatar has identified an opportunity to obtain assets in a favorable environment where asset owners are looking to offload their properties at a time where most of Europe is continuing to struggle with high debt,” said Christopher Hewett, consultant at TRI Hospitality Consulting. “This is particularly the case with the 42 Marriott hotels in the United Kingdom.”
Cairo hotels on recovery path
After more than a year and a half, Egypt has a president and its citizens can finally start looking toward their future, writes HotelNewsNow.com blogger David Grossniklaus.
The country’s economy certainly needs to get its tourism business back on track—an important task considering 11% of its gross domestic product is directly linked to tourism expenditure.
But it won’t be easy. Last year’s political protests and the subsequent uncertainty surrounding the government transition and election process scared off would-be visitors. During the first five months of 2011, revenue per available room in Cairo’s hotel industry was down nearly 50% in the luxury and upper-upscale segments.
Sub-Saharan Africa a hotel development hotbed
A recent study by Lagos, Nigeria-based consultancy W Hospitality Group revealed hotel development in Sub-Saharan Africa is showing a big increase in hotel development.
The number of rooms in the Sub-Saharan pipeline is up 42% to 20,625 rooms, according to W Hospitality.
“Africa is receiving increasing attention from the international chains, who clearly see the need to expand their presence, particularly with above-average growth in the number of travelers to the region, and some of the fastest-growing economies in the world,” W Hospitality Managing Director Trevor J. Ward said in a news release.
Deals and development
- InterContinental Hotels Group signed its first hotel in Algeria: the 243-room Holiday Inn Algiers-Cheraga Tower in Algiers.
- Hilton Worldwide signed a management agreement for the 300-room Hilton Erbil Hotel & Spa in Erbil, Iraq.
- The Oetker Collection’s Le Bristol Abu Dhabi is scheduled to open in 2013.
- Accor has acquired the 209-room Hotel Ivoire in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
- Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts has taken over management of the Bilila Lodge in the Serengeti National Park; the property will be relaunched as the Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti, Tanzania, according to Forbes.
Compiled by Shawn A. Turner.