According to a research conducted by MEED Projects in Q4, 2018, hotel construction in the Middle East and North Africa continues to grow with close to US$30bn worth of contracts set to be awarded in the region between now and 2023. These figures were revealed in the second annual Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) Hotel Investment Forecast, which also highlighted that hotel development is most active in three countries — UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
As reported by our sister publication, Hotelier Middle East, Ed James, MEED projects director of content and analysis, says: "More than 800 new hotels worth in excess of US$44bn have been built over the past seven years in the Middle East and North Africa, as the region benefits from increased visitor numbers, new world-class tourist attractions and investment in transport infrastructure." Saudi Arabia has recently announced that it'll soon unveil US$425bn worth of infrastructure projects.
He adds that the UAE is leading the way with more than US$20bn-worth of hotel construction contracts awarded since 2012. The second in the list was Saudi Arabia, which saw just over US$10bn-worth of hotel deals awarded in the same timeframe.
The investment continues, the report reveals, and with just under US$30bn contracts due to be awarded, the UAE still has pole position with almost $11bn-worth of planned and un-awarded hotel projects. These include projects such as The Address Harbour Point, MGM Resorts and Warner Bros hotels in Dubai, and Marriott Resort Ras Al Khaimah.
Egypt is the second largest future market, added James, with just over US$4bn-worth of hotel projects, followed by Saudi Arabia at US$3.9bn. Bench Events chairman and AHIC founder, Jonathan Worsley, says: "Saudi Arabia has made tourism a centrepiece of its 2030 Vision with the multi-billion-dollar Neom and Red Sea mega-developments. At the same time, investment in new hotels and renovations of older properties has helped propel the Middle East into one of the world’s fastest growing tourism hotspots."
The W Dubai – The Palm is expected to open in the first week of February, even as the Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai made its grand debut. Other high profile names expected to open in the near future is the Mandarin Oriental and W Abu Dhabi. There has also been an increased interest in smaller properties, such as the Bait Al Sharjah by Godwin Austen Johnson and the Al Faya Lodge by Anarchitect, also located in Sharjah, and The Edition Abu Dhabi.
What does this mean for the interior design industry which derives a big chunk of its business from the hospitality sector? Designers and architects are upbeat about the prospects of exciting projects in the region. The large scale projects also feed sub-sectors such as F&B, retail and niche spaces such as spas within the hotels. A case in point: Dubai-based Bishop Design has been commissioned to design the much-talked about Torno Subito restaurant at the W Dubai – The Palm by famous chef, Massimo Bottura, which makes it the first eatery outside of his native Italy.
In addition to the new projects, refurbishment properties such as the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, are also providing new opportunities to the industry, benefitting not just designers, but also suppliers. With this new thrust in business, things are clearly on the upswing for the hotel sector.