Dubai pushes midmarket ahead of World Expo 2020
Dubai pushes midmarket ahead of World Expo 2020
27 APRIL 2016 8:40 AM

Dubai is open to a huge surge of midscale properties as the destination and region looks to diversify its inbound traffic.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates—As Dubai approaches the 2020 World Expo with its vision to welcome 20 million visitors, economy and midscale is where to be, according to speakers at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference, which kicked off Tuesday.

Dubai has tax incentives in place for economy and midscale hotels set to be up and running by the end of 2017, according to speakers. The hope is that additional revenue from residential property owners, retail and tourism attractions will make the city even more of a world-class destination than it is already.

The job, speakers said, is on to find the right product for the right market—even the right micro-markets—while being culturally relevant and respectful and keeping ahead of the technology curve.

Photo of the day

Indicative of how cool Dubai is—and its sustainability, with the ice melting into the hotel pool and thus recycled—a post-Day One AHIC party at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dubai Jumeirah Beach has its F&B staff pulling no stops in ingenuity and brand marketing. (Photo: Terence Baker)

Editor’s takeaway

The conversations heard most on this first day of AHIC were all about the huge opportunities and the requirements needed for the burgeoning traveler from China, India and elsewhere, who will be looking for experiences, bandwidth and a more affordable visit. The drop in price point will be met by the new breed of hotels, but a larger struggle will be for Dubai to maintain its integrity of offering, to increase value and to not lose what it already has in terms of it being of a 5-star destination. That requires work from not just hotels but tour operators, government officials and destination management companies. The sense here is that this particular emirate has more than what it takes to be successful.This region of the world is booming. Rather like Las Vegas realized several years ago, it is not just about high rollers looking for luxury—with the rapid rise of the global middle class and a diversified customer base. Hotel investors, owners and operators know they now have to move fast to get their midscale products into the right locations.

This push will spill over into other regions of the United Arab Emirates. As the tweet below suggests, Oman has ambitious plans by 2040. Other hoteliers at AHIC spoke about huge opportunities in Saudi Arabia, mostly for domestic and religious visitors, and the rise of a far more mature investor and owner eager for brand affiliation.

—Terence Baker, Reporter, Europe

Quotes of the day
“We’re still obviously very keen on franchises, but our big focus (in the Middle East) is on our management presence. In 2008, we had no management contracts in the region, but we will have seven new managed deals announced at AHIC. Of the deals we have in our pipeline, 80% are managed.” —Geoff Ballotti, president and CEO, Wyndham Hotel Group, during an interview with Hotel News Now

”In Dubai, it feels like we are now where we were in Las Vegas 20 years ago. It is very exciting. Next year, we are opening the Hampton by Hilton Dubai Al Qusais, which with 420 rooms will be the largest Hampton in the world.” —Mark Nogal, regional head, focused service brand management, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Hilton Worldwide Holdings, speaking to HNN

Tweet of the day

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