Middle East hotel projects under contract up, Saudi Arabia has most rooms under construction

Above, construction cranes outside the Grand Mosque in Makkah. Hotels are being built in Makkah to accommodate the surge in number of pilgrims. (Reuters)
Updated 13 September 2017
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Middle East hotel projects under contract up, Saudi Arabia has most rooms under construction

DUBAI: Optimism runs high among Middle East hospitality operators with 583 hotel projects under contract as of August, global hotel data STR said in its latest Pipeline Report.
STR defines hotels under contract as projects in the construction, final planning and planning stages but including projects in the unconfirmed stage.
The 583 hotel projects under contract represent a 5.4 percent increase from a year ago, with 309 hotels now under construction involving 98,027 rooms. The number of rooms was 17.2 percent higher in year-over-year comparison.
Among the Middle East countries, Saudi Arabia had the most number of rooms in construction at 40,020 involving 89 projects; the UAE with 35,050 rooms in 121 projects and Qatar with 9,627 rooms in 41 projects.
JLL earlier said among the hotel properties under construction in Saudi Arabia include the Double Tree by Hilton in Makkah involving 668 keys; the Staybridge Suites Her’a Dyafa Center in Jeddah with 200 keys; the Movenpick Hotel & Apartments Al Thalia Jeddah with 164 rooms; the Somerset Corniche in Jeddah with 135 rooms and the Hyatt House Sari Street also in Jeddah with 104 rooms.
Meanwhile, STR said that 208 hotel projects were under contract in Africa, with 28,620 rooms from 160 hotels now under construction as of August, 5.6 percent lower compared with the previous year.
Among the African countries that reported more than 4,000 rooms under construction are Angola with 4,451 rooms (32 projects) and Egypt with 4,169 rooms from 12 projects.


Zimbabwe devalues currency to tackle economic crisis

Updated 16 min 24 sec ago
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Zimbabwe devalues currency to tackle economic crisis

  • Zimbabwe adopted the dollar in 2009 but introduced a parallel system of bond notes that it pegged at 1:1 to the US currency

HARARE: Zimbabwe’s central bank began trading a sharply discounted replacement currency on Friday, attempting to ease a cash crunch that has hobbled the economy and plunged millions deep into poverty.
Zimbabwe adopted the dollar in 2009 but, as a chronic hard currency shortage worsened, introduced a parallel system of bond notes that it pegged at 1:1 to the US currency.
Effectively reintroducing a national currency, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) said on Wednesday it would carry out a “managed float” of the surrogate, which fetches far less than a dollar on the black market.
The bond notes and electronic dollars, locked in individuals’ accounts for months due to a lack of cash, will be merged into a separate currency called RTGS — or real-time gross settlement — dollars, the central bank said.
It sold US dollars to banks at 2.5 RTGS dollars on Friday morning, Bank Governor John Mangudya told business leaders.
Commercial banks reopened on Friday after a bank holiday, but with exchange facilities from bond notes to US dollars at the same 2.5 rate limited to individual and corporate holders of foreign currency accounts, queues outside appeared to be no longer than usual.
Other members of the public should, in theory, be able to go to banks on Monday and buy US dollars with bond notes or electronic dollars.
But it is not clear how many US dollars the central bank, which only has enough foreign exchange for two weeks of imports, has sold to banks.
The bond notes and notional electronic funds have plummeted on Zimbabwe’s black market in recent months to around 4 per dollar.
Many foreign traders have stopped accepting bond notes as legal tender, leaving businesses such as millers, brewers and miners hamstrung.
Economists cautiously welcomed the central bank’s decision to allow its currency to devalue.
The RBZ hopes its new measures will temper demand for dollars on the black market and ease inflation as the new currency settles at fair value.