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Emaar Hospitality plans to expand MENA operations

Emaar Hospitality is planning to open new properties in the UAE and the Middle East and North Africa region this year and next as part of a continued recovery in international tourism from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The hospitality arm of UAE’s biggest developer Emaar Properties is eyeing expansion with a new hotel in Bahrain in 2022, followed by openings in Egypt and Saudi Arabia in 2023, Mark Kirby, head of Emaar Hospitality, told a press conference at the Arabian Travel Market on Monday.

In the UAE, it will expand with new properties in Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina, Dubai Creek Harbour and Fujairah.

Emaar Hospitality recorded occupancy levels of more than 75 per cent in the first quarter of 2022 and expects an “upward trend” for the rest of the year, Mr Kirby said.

Expo 2020 Dubai, the return of business conferences and exhibitions, the continued popularity of staycations, seasonal boosts from Easter holidays and the UAE remaining open as a tourism destination were the key drivers of growth, he told reporters.

“Into May, we’re seeing very strong pace and pickup in all of our hotels,” Mr Kirby said. “It’s really just making sure we now get through the summer and then I think we would have a very solid quarter.”

UAE hotels recorded a 24 per cent increase in occupancy rates in the first quarter of 2022, compared to the same period last year, with the increased demand due to the winter holidays and last three months of Expo 2020, a Mena hotels report by Colliers released on Monday found. Dubai and Sharjah posted the highest growth in occupancy of 33 per cent and 30 per cent year-on-year, respectively.

The branded hospitality market in the UAE reached 116,330 keys by the end of the first quarter, compared with 106,890 in the same period in 2021, with Dubai being the largest contributor to the new supply, the report said. Around 2,054 branded hotel rooms and suites opened in Dubai during the first three months of the year.

Emaar Hospitality said it will open Palace Fujairah in the coming months as a luxury resort in the emirate. It also has five new openings in Dubai, with Vida Dubai Marina scheduled for the end of 2022 and Vida Dubai Mall set to open in 2023. The Address Grand Creek Harbour is scheduled to open at the end of 2022, followed by the openings of Palace Dubai Creek Harbour and Vida Creek Beach in 2023.

As part of its international expansion, Emaar Hospitality will open the Address Beach Resort Bahrain, adding to its currently operating Vida Marassi al Bahrain.

In Egypt, the openings of Address Marassi Marina and Vida Marassi Marina will follow in 2023.

“With these projects, the group will significantly add to the success of the master-planned lifestyle and tourist potential of Egypt,” Emaar Hospitality said in a statement.

Egypt’s easing of travel restrictions led to “significant inbound leisure demand” in the first quarter of 2022, positively affecting demand for hospitality products in the country, the Colliers report said. The strengthening of political ties between Egypt and some of its vital source markets such as Europe and the Middle East further supported the recovery of this market, it said.

Overall supply in the Egyptian market is expected to increase at a compounded annual growth rate of 1 per cent between 2022 and 2024, with 4,210 keys anticipated to enter the market, Colliers said.

In Saudi Arabia, the opening of Emaar’s Address Jabal Omar Makkah near the Grand Mosque is scheduled for 2023 and will offer 1,484 rooms. An Address hotel in Diriyah Gate is planned for 2025, Mr Kirby said.

The Fifa World Cup in Qatar this year is also expected to boost international tourism, Mr Kirby told reporters.

Asked about the effects of the Ukraine war on visitors from Russia, who make up about 3 per cent of the group’s total guests and 10 per cent of those hiring its beachfront properties, Mr Kirby said the number of Russian visitors remained stable compared to 2019 but with longer holiday stays.

(Source: The National News)

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