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It's not surprising that the Middle East is prioritizing hotel development to accommodate a growing influx of tourists. This proactive approach aligns with their broader economic and tourism strategies to foster long-term growth and competitiveness in the global tourism market.

Series: Middle East Travel Roundup

Middle East Travel Roundup

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In the second quarter of 2023, the Middle East’s hotel construction pipeline has seen significant growth, marking its highest project count since the first quarter of 2020, according to Lodging Econometric’s Middle East Hotel Construction Pipeline Trend Report.

The report shows a steady 10% year-over-year increase in the number of projects and a 5% rise in room count, bringing the total pipeline to 597 projects encompassing 146,521 rooms.

Top five countries that account for 92% of all hotel projects in the Middle East’s current pipeline:

  • Saudi Arabia leads the Middle East in hotel construction projects, boasting an all-time high of 276 projects and 72,144 rooms.
  • The United Arab Emirates (UAE) follows with 106 projects and 27,921 rooms.
  • Egypt has 91 projects with 20,814 rooms.
  • Qatar has 43 projects with 10,267 rooms.
  • Oman has 33 projects with 6,792 rooms.

Within the UAE:

  • Dubai features prominently in the construction pipeline with 67 projects comprising 19,200 rooms.
  • Ras al Khaimah has 15 projects with 4,464 rooms.
  • Sharjah has 13 projects with 1,766 rooms.

Top five cities represent 42% of the total projects and 36% of the total rooms in the pipeline.

  • Saudi’s Provincial region leads with 113 projects and 25,312 rooms.
  • Riyadh has record-high 86 projects with 16,618 rooms.
  • Jeddah’s 50 projects have 10,995 rooms.
  • Doha holds 38 projects with 9,383 rooms.
  • Cairo has 32 projects with 7,287 rooms.

Top five hotel companies account for 57% of all projects in the region’s total pipeline

  • Hilton Worldwide has achieved record project counts with 104 projects and 25,785 rooms.
  • Accor with 79 projects (17,798 rooms).
  • Marriott International with 78 projects (23,534 rooms).
  • IHG Hotels & Resorts with 55 projects (12,974 rooms).
  • Radisson Hotel Group with 23 projects (4,686 rooms).


  • Doubletree by Hilton brand has 29 projects with 6,418 rooms.
  • Accor’s Novotel brand follows with 11 projects (2,351 rooms).
  • Marriott’s Courtyard brand has 14 projects (3,735 rooms).
  • IHG Hotels & Resorts’ InterContinental brand has 13 projects (3,546 rooms).
  • Radisson’s Blu brand features in 9 projects (1,585 rooms).


In the first half of 2023, the Middle East has witnessed the opening of 16 new hotels comprising 3,892 rooms, with an additional 93 new hotels and 21,306 rooms scheduled to open by the end of the year.

Looking ahead

Analysts predict that in 2024, new hotel openings will rise to 113 projects (28,857 rooms), and by the end of 2025, an estimated 97 projects (18,914 rooms) are expected to open in the region.

Abu Dhabi Invites Chinese Visitors for Golden Week in October

Inviting Chinese tourists to experience Golden Week, Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi is offering curated offers, including hotel stays, dining as well as shopping experiences.

What’s Golden Week? A national holiday celebrated annually during October, Golden Week is a popular holiday in China and is celebrated from October 1-7.

Some Context: Chinese domestic tourism revenue totalled $40 billion during the Golden Week holiday in 2022, according to data released late by the ministry of culture and tourism. This is 56% lower than the same period in 2019.

What’s on Offer?

  • Rosewood Abu Dhabi is offering up to 25% off on rooms, as well as an eight-course set menu at Dai Pai Dong.
  • Emirates Palace Mandarin Oriental guests is offering a suite accommodation with complimentary limousine transfers.
  • The Galleria Al Maryah Island also announced an AED 1 million worth of gift cards as part of its Golden Week festivities. Guests who spend up to AED500 or more can enter the draw.

Middle East Sees Strongest Rebound in Post-Covid Global Tourism Recovery

What HSBC Global Research’s “Jet Set Go” report says about tourism recovery in the Middle East:

  • The Middle East has seen the strongest rebound in the post-pandemic global tourism recovery with tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2023, up 15% on 2019 figures.
  • Having reached 90% of pre-pandemic visitor numbers, Europe was placed second.
  • Globally, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are the best performing destinations.
  • In terms of tourist arrival in the first quarter, Turkey stands fourth globally, having reached 104% of pre-pandemic levels.
  • The study also highlights that the Middle East has the highest share of GDP from tourism, at 5%.

“The Middle East saw the strongest performance in terms of recovery in tourism, and is the first region in the world to recover beyond pre-pandemic numbers,” said Maitreyi Das, author of the report and economist at HSBC Securities and Capital Markets.

Abu Dhabi to Open One of The World’s Largest Airport Terminals in November

Abu Dhabi International Airport’s state-of-the-art new terminal — Terminal A — is scheduled to begin operations in early November 2023.

What’s New? Covering 742,000 square meters of built-up area, Terminal A is among the largest airport terminals in the world. Said to be equipped with the latest technologies, Terminal A boasts of interconnected biometric systems, with the aim of providing a seamless experience from pre-travel to the boarding gate. This would be facilitated by self-service kiosks, streamlined security checkpoints and advanced baggage handling systems.

What Does This Mean for Abu Dhabi? The terminal will significantly increase Abu Dhabi International Airport’s passenger and cargo capacity. Once operational, the new terminal will accommodate up to 45 million passengers per year, and would be able to process 11,000 travellers per hour and operate 79 aircraft at any given time.

Riyadh and Jeddah’s Hotel Development Pipeline

We read JLL’s Saudi Arabia Real Estate Market Overview and here’s what we thought you should know about the hospitality sector

No new hotel projects were completed in the Saudi Arabian cities of Riyadh and Jeddah during the second quarter of 2023, keeping the total existing stock stable at 21,000 keys in the capital and 16,000 keys in Jeddah.

Around 1,400 keys are scheduled to be handed over in Riyadh and 600 keys are planned to be completed in Jeddah in the remainder of this year.

The government’s initiatives to enhance the tourism sector, including investments, visa reforms, improved connectivity to new markets, and a well-organized calendar of events showcasing numerous tourist attractions, have been the primary drivers behind the sector’s recent success, the report noted.

According to hotel data giant STR, Riyadh’s occupancy reached 62% and the average daily rate (ADR) climbed to $196 in June, which led to revenue per available room (RevPAR) rising by 15% to $120.

In Jeddah, occupancy rate increased to 64% in June and ADR rose by 4% to reach $215. This consequently resulted in RevPAR increasing by 21% y-o-y to reach USD 137 for YT June 2023.

Riyadh Air’s Ambitious Recruitment Plans

Saudi Arabia’s newest carrier Riyadh Air targets to hire as many as 700 pilots in the next 3 years.

While the airline has said that it has started the process of hiring for the first batch of pilots, the formal induction of new employees would begin from January next year.

The airline said it has been screening applicants for cabin crew and will also be travelling to other countries to recruit cabin crew. This process will commence in October and extend into 2024.

Riyadh Air and Saudi Arabia’s Tourism Goal

The airline is scheduled to begin operations from early 2025. The establishment of Riyadh Air is part of Saudi sovereign fund Public Investment Fund’s strategy to unlock the capabilities of promising sectors that can help drive the diversification of the local economy, adding $20 billion to non-oil GDP growth, and create more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs.

As part of its mission to fulfil Saudi’s Vision 2030 goals, Riyadh Air seeks to optimize the country’s strategic location of connecting the three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe.

Wyndham Surpasses 100 Open Hotels in Turkey

Wyndham Hotels and Resorts now has approximately 105 open and operating hotels in Turkey, with another 20 additional properties in development.

Wyndham in Turkey:

  • Wyndham’s portfolio in Turkey, is its fifth largest market globally by hotel count.
  • The company said it is the largest international hotel group by number of properties, where it is now present in more than 45 cities.

Recent Openings in Turkey:

  • Days Hotel by Wyndham Istanbul Esenyurt
  • Ramada by Wyndham Karapinar
  • Istanbul New Airport Hotel, Trademark Collection by Wyndham
  • Wyndham Afyonkarahisar Thermal & Spa
  • Ramada Encore by Wyndham Sisli

Expected Openings:

  • Wyndham Istanbul Old City
  • Operla Airport Hotels, Trademark Collection by Wyndham
  • Ramada by Wyndham Istanbul Pera

Having received over 51 million inbound visitors in 2022, Turkey is targeting 60 million travelers this year.

Baghdad Airport to be Modernised

International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has signed an agreement with the government of Iraq to develop Baghdad Airport under the public-private partnership model.

This will be Iraq’s first airport project under public private partnership as well as IFC’s first PPP mandate in Iraq, the corporation said in a press statement.

IFC’s Role: IFC will act as lead transaction advisor to rehabilitate, expand, finance, operate and maintain Baghdad International Airport and bring its facilities, safety, and services in line with international standards.

IFC Partnerships in Middle East

IFC’s PPPs in the Middle East include Queen Alia Airport and the Tafila wind farm in Jordan, and the Madinah Airport and healthcare partnerships in Saudi Arabia.

DubaiDestinations 2023 Summer Campaign Sets New Records

The summer phase of the 2023 #DubaiDestinations campaign concluded on Sunday. In two months, the campaign received over 1.8 million engagements and more than 3.4 million video views across social media platforms. Approximately 5,000 pieces of content were posted on social media channels and websites.

Featuring interactive storytelling and visually engaging content, the #DubaiDestinations campaign, was first launched in 2021, and aims to celebrate the city’s unique appeal across seasons.

Preparations are afoot to launch the winter phase of the campaign later this year. The new campaign will spotlight Dubai’s top experiences, outdoor adventures, exceptional dining and hospitality options, and other offerings in the cooler months of the year.

Kazakhstan’s FlyArystan Expands International Network

Kazakhstan’s low-cost airline FlyArystan has expanded its international network with new services to India and Central Asia being launched in the next two months.

Fleet: Part of the Air Astana Group, the airline operates a fleet of 16 A320s and will add two more Airbus A320neo aircraft to its fleet by the end of 2023 to support its ambitious international network expansion.

New Services: FlyArystan’s new service from Almaty to New Delhi starts in late September and will be the second service to India with flights from Shymkent to New Delhi having been launched in May 2023.

FlyArystan will additionally commence operations between Astana and Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan in October.

Plans:  The airline has said it is also evaluating the launch of new services to destinations including UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia during the next stage of its network expansion.

In addition to India, the carrier currently offers services from Kazakhstan to destinations in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, China, UAE and Uzbekistan.

Flynas to Launch Operations Base at Madinah

Saudi Arabian low-cost carrier Flynas will be launching its operations base at Madinah airport, making it the only carrier with four bases across the kingdom. Flynas has signed an agreement with Tibah Airports Operation Company to launch its base at Madinah.

The domestic and international destinations and routes that will be linked to Madinah Airport will begin operating at the end of the last quarter of the current year 2023, coinciding with Flynas’ delivery of new aircraft.

Diversification: The new operations center falls within the framework of enhancing operational capabilities and diversifying the carrier’s international and domestic destinations and routes, said Bander Almohanna, Flynas CEO and managing director.

Objective: This is also in line with the goals of the Pilgrims Experience Program and the National Civil Aviation Strategy to increase the number of international destinations linked to Saudi Arabia to 250 international destinations by 2030 and increasing the number of pilgrims and tourists to Madinah, Almhanna said.

New Hotel Openings

>>Egypt-based real estate developer, Sodic has partnered with Nobu Hospitality to develop two luxury hotels, branded residences, and the popular Nobu restaurant in West Cairo and on the North Coast.

>>Ras Al Khaimah-based developer Marjan has announced the launch of a W Hotel on Al Marjan Island. Slated for an early 2027 opening, W Al Marjan Island will be Marriott International’s second hospitality venture on the island and W Hotel’s first property in Ras Al Khaimah.


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Tags: abu dhabi, accor, china outbound, dubai, Dubai's Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), egypt, golden week, hilton, ihg, jll, marriott, middle east newsletter, oman, qatar, radisson, ras al khaimah, riyadh, Riyadh Air, social media marketing, turkey, uae, wyndham

Photo credit: A guest room at a Choice Hotel in Saudi Arabia run in partnership with Seera Hospitality. Choice Hotels

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