16,000 new hotel rooms for Riyadh and Jeddah by 2018

Updated 22 April 2015
0

16,000 new hotel rooms for Riyadh and Jeddah by 2018

A new report published by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) for The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia 2015 reveals that the major cities of Saudi Arabia — Riyadh and Jeddah — are forecast to see an increase of 16,000 new hotel rooms by 2018.
Of these, over 50 percent will be part of new five-star hotel developments, as international hotel brands put in place ambitious expansion plans.
The number of rooms in Jeddah is expected to increase by 2,700 in 2015 alone.
AccorGroup has plans to open nearly 10 hotels by 2018, while current market leader, InterContinental Hotels Group, which has 24 hotels throughout the Kingdom, has announced the opening of a further 9 outlets including the world’s largest Holiday Inn in Makkah.
Pascal Gauvin, chief operating office, India, Middle East & Africa at InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), said: “Saudi Arabia has been one of our strongest markets and a key focus for us within the region since we entered 40 years ago. Our largest presence in the Middle East is in Saudi Arabia where we have 24 hotels open across our InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn brands, and a further nine in the pipeline due to open in the next three to five years.”
He continued: “The positive reports we are seeing on projected growth in visitor arrivals contribute to our optimism for the market — industry has forecast a 400 percent growth in domestic tourism to around 640 million nights by 2019, for example.”
He said: “The number of pilgrims expected to visit the kingdom is set to more than double, and reach five million religious visitors this year, which presents a great opportunity for us to continue to expand our footprint in the country.”
Gauvin said: “We are in a great position to cater for this growth with the opening of Holiday Inn Makkah in 2016, which will be the largest Holiday Inn hotel in the world with 1,238 rooms.”
According to another new report published by Euromonitor International for The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia 2015, the Saudi travel market is currently booming owing to the launch of the “Umrah plus” visa which the government of Saudi Arabia introduced in 2014, that enables pilgrims to visit any city of the country freely after performing their religious duties.
Inbound tourism has historically been largely dependent on religious tourists traveling to Makkah and Madinah.
However, in recent years an ambitious plan to bring in more foreign investment has led to various industrial areas including the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), alongside large-scale expansion projects currently being carried out at the Holy Mosques, especially in Makkah.
Ismail AlAkamal, director at AlKamal International Saudi Arabia, will be speaking on Makkah and Madinah as a unique market for hospitality projects at the first ever Vision Conference at The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia 2015.
He said: “One can hardly recognize Makkah’s city center anymore with the sheer amount of demolition and construction work going on. From the Haram expansion, the First Ring Road, King AbdulAziz Boulevard, Haramain High Speed Rail and Makka Metro project to the private sector developments such as the Jabal Omar Development Project, Jabal Al Kabaa Project and many other independent developments around the central Haram area. It is no surprise that most of the private sector development is focused on hospitality with more than 22,000 keys forecasted to enter operation by the end of 2016. Of course, this opens numerous opportunities for all verticals catering for this unique market and at the same time presents a few challenges.”
Grant Salter, head of Travel, Hospitality and Leisure Advisory at Deloitte, will also be speaking on hotel performance by sector and opportunities for investment at The Vision Conference, Saudi Arabia 20


No need for more talks over draft budget: Lebanon finance minister

Updated 21 May 2019
0

No need for more talks over draft budget: Lebanon finance minister

  • Lebanon’s proposed austerity budget may please international lenders but it could enrage sectors of society
  • Lebanon has one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens at 150 percent of GDP

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s finance minister said on Tuesday there was no need for more talks over the 2019 draft budget, seen as a vital test of the government’s will to reform, although the foreign minister signalled the debate may go on.
The cabinet says the budget will reduce the deficit to 7.6% of gross domestic product (GDP) from last year’s 11.2%. Lebanon has one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens at 150% of GDP.
“There is no longer need for too much talking or anything that calls for delay. I have presented all the numbers in their final form,” Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said.
But Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil suggested the debate may go on, telling reporters: “The budget is done when it’s done.”
While Lebanon has dragged its feet on reforms for years, its sectarian leaders appear more serious this time, warning of a catastrophe if there is no serious action. Their plans have triggered protests and strikes by state workers and army retirees worried about their pensions.
President Michel Aoun on Tuesday repeated his call for Lebanese to sacrifice “a little“: “(If) we want to hold onto all privileges without sacrifice, we will lose them all.”
“We import from abroad, we don’t produce anything ... So what we did was necessary and the citizens won’t realize its importance until after they feel its positive results soon,” Aoun said, noting Lebanon’s $80 billion debt mountain.
A draft of the budget seen by Reuters included a three-year freeze on all forms of hiring and a cap on bonus and overtime benefits.
It also includes a 2% levy on imports including refined oil products and excluding medicine and primary inputs for agriculture and industry, said Youssef Finianos, minister of public works and transport.
“DEVIL IN THE DETAIL“
Marwan Mikhael, head of research at Blominvest Bank, said investors would welcome the additional efforts in the latest draft to cut the deficit.
“There will be some who claim it is not good because they were hit by the decline in spending or increased taxes, but it should be well viewed by the international community,” he said.
Jason Tuvey, senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, said: “The numbers will be of some comfort to investors, but the devil will be in the detail.”
“Even if the authorities do manage to rein in the deficit, it probably won’t be enough to stabilize the debt ratio and some form of restructuring looks increasingly likely over the next couple of years,” Tuvey said.
The government said in January it was committed to paying all maturing debt and interest payments on the predetermined dates.
Lebanon’s main expenses are a bloated public sector, interest payments on public debt and transfers to the loss-making power generator, for which a reform plan was approved in April. The state is riddled with corruption and waste.
Serious reforms should help Lebanon tap into some $11 billion of project financing pledged at a Paris donors’ conference last year.
Once approved by cabinet, the draft budget must be debated and passed by parliament. While no specific timetable is in place for those steps, Aoun has previously said he wants the budget approved by parliament by the end of May.
On Monday, veterans fearing cuts to their pensions and benefits burned tires outside the parliament building where the cabinet met. Police used water cannon to drive them back.