AHIC Hotel Investment Briefing in Jeddah Highlights Development as Critical for Hospitality Industry Success

Richard Thompson, Editorial Director, MEED, leads a panel discussion at the AHIC briefing in Jeddah; from left: Hala Matar Choufany, President Middle East & Africa, HVS; Abdellah Essonni, Chief Hospitality Officer, Maad International Co.; Ismail AlKamal, Director, Al Kamal International; and Usamah Al Senan, Chief Executive Officer, Shamayel.

Dubai, UAE – Hoteliers in Jeddah and the Holy Cities attending this year’s Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) highlighted the government’s efforts in diversifying the economy by investing in large-scale development projects in efforts to boost the hospitality industry.

The briefing on 14 March, saw hoteliers, hospitality investors and owners discuss the key regional issues impacting the local market ahead of AHIC, which is running from 25 to 27 April 2017 at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai.

In a panel discussion, delegates discussed the large-scale projects underway in the region and what that meant for investment in the tourism sector. The projects include King Abdulaziz Airport, King Abdullah Economic City and the Haramain High Speed Rail, which will link the Holy Cities of Medina and Mecca as it passes through the new City, the new Airport and Jeddah.

Abdellah Essonni, Chief Hospitality Officer, Maad International Co, pointed out that the Maad Hospitality Towers, with its 11,000 rooms will be delivered in phases starting at the end of 2017. “This project, along with a dozen other mega-developments across the Kingdom, are a living testament to the government and the people’s will to break the economy’s dependency on oil,” he said.

“The World Travel & Tourism Council foresees the total contribution of travel and tourism to Saudi Arabia’s GDP will reach close to 10 percent from its current seven percent, and we at Maad International are proud to be allowed to play a small role in these diversification efforts.”

Hala Matar Choufany, President Middle East & Africa, HVS, welcomed the government’s drive to build the new developments, as well as infrastructure, adding, “Now is the time when I would encourage the government to review its visa policies to facilitate the employment of more people as the demand for manpower grows ever bigger to support the mixed-use developments underway. Improving the system would provide substantial growth in the hospitality sector.”

Master developer of the Mayasem project in Jeddah, Shamayel United Development Company, in studying the need for family entertainment as part of its overall masterplan, Usamah Al Senan, its Chief Executive Officer, called for new hotels in the city to explore stronger propositions for family leisure with dedicated resorts. “I would urge smart hotel operators to partner and promote different types of entertainment options in the city to further enhance the visitor experience.”

The lively discussion was aided in its assessment by the thorough presentation of Ismail AlKamal, Director of AlKamal International on the opportunities and challenges facing hospitality construction in Saudi Arabia.

“Being in the hotel construction industry, the AHIC regional briefing was a great opportunity to gain insight on the actual indicators of hotel supply versus demand in the local market,” he said.

“The information provided was extremely valuable to us and will definitely assist us in planning for the years ahead. In addition, the vibrant discussion between operators, investors and developers at the briefing highlighted the challenges faced by each and where the opportunities are in the market.

“I’m really looking forward to attending the conference in Dubai next month, to expand on the themes we talked about during the briefing and exchange ideas with other leaders in the industry, Ismail concluded.

The full programme for AHIC 2017 is available here.

AHIC 2017 will bring together more than 700 hotel owners, investors, developers, operators, consultants and experts from professional services to debate the hospitality investment climate against a backdrop of global catalysts for change and the macroeconomic environment.

The conference will feature panel sessions entitled: The MacroEconomic Outlook for Middle East Hospitality; Do You Need An International Brand?; An A-Z of Reflagging Your Hotel; The Investment Climate Warms Up to the Mid-Market; and Concepts for the GCC.

Sessions specifically targeted at hospitality investors will tackle issues such as white label operations, asset management, alternative models of investment, how to exit a contract, overseas acquisitions, working with master developers and achieving ROI on F&B.

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