Palestine hotel room count ‘to double’

Political artist Banksy — whose artworks sell for millions of dollars — opened his “Walled Off” hotel in Bethlehem earlier this year. (Reuters)
Updated 11 November 2017
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Palestine hotel room count ‘to double’

LONDON: Palestine’s hotel room count is set to double by the end of the decade.
Elias Al-Arjah, who is chairman of the Arab Hotel Association and the owner of The Bethlehem Hotel, predicts that the number of hotel rooms in the country will rise from 6,000 to 10,000 by 2020.
Speaking on the sidelines of London’s World Travel Market, Al-Arjah told Arab News: “In Bethlehem in 1994, before the peace process, we had 800 rooms, now we have 4,000 rooms. We are growing faster than our neighbors, such as Tel Aviv and Amman.”
The Arab Hotel Association (AHA) — which represents 120 hotels throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem — is tasked with promoting tourism to the region through events and marketing.
The AHA chairman said: “Most Palestinian tourism is religious, but there is about five percent of tourism which is cultural and historical.” Al-Arjah said that Palestine and Israel are “working together” to promote Jerusalem as a tourist site.
“When the tourists come, they come to see more than East Jerusalem, they want to see all of the holy sites. Business-wise, we are working together with Israel, even if there is very bad political conflict,” Al-Arjah said.
“Our area has been quiet and there has been no problems in the last three or four years — it has been a good situation. Thank God there is no conflict, so there are more tourists,” he said.
According to the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Palestine is the world’s fastest growing tourism destination. The country saw a 57.8 percent increase in international arrivals in the first half of this year, compared to the first half of 2016.
Earlier this year political artist Banksy — whose artworks sell for millions of dollars — opened his “Walled Off” hotel in Bethlehem. The hotel, which the artist described as having “the worst view of any hotel in the world,” exists both as a hotel and a museum space that explains the turbulent history of the region. Rooms start at $60 and go up to $965 for the presidential suite.


Dubai rents stabilize for the first time in two years

Updated 22 April 2018
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Dubai rents stabilize for the first time in two years

  • Dubai rents unchanged in Q1, 3.1% lower year on year
  • But rental rates forecast to fall 5-7% in 2018 as new stock enters the market

Dubai residential rents stabilized for the first time in two years last quarter, according to real estate consultancy Cluttons, even as the imminent delivery of new rental stock is likely to further depress rates throughout the year.

Rental rates were unchanged for the first quarter of the year, Cluttons reported on Sunday, with 3.1 percent lower than the year-ago period. But rents are expected to fall by 5-7 percent over the remainder of the year, the consultancy forecast.

“We expect newly completed rental properties to command the attention of tenants, while older and more secondary property will register rent falls,” said Murray Strang, Head of Cluttons Dubai.

“This flight to quality phenomenon will likely result in the creation of a very distinctive two-tiered market. In the short-term, we expect rents to slip by up to 5-7% over the remainder of 2018.”

Sales values across the emirate’s residential market continued to slip in the first quarter, declining 2.5%, even as more affordable areas such as Discovery Gardens and International City were stable.

“One of the key factors that has likely contributed to the stability in values in Dubai’s more affordable residential areas is the distinct lack of new supply in these markets,” said Faisal Durrani, Head of Research at Cluttons.

“Affordability aside, We expect demand to remain firmly centered on new homes priced under 800 dirhams per square foot (psf) as affordability takes center stage in the market.”

Cluttons expects values to slip by up to 5 to 7 percent in 2018, with the decline persisting well into 2019, “catalyzed by the buoyancy of the supply pipeline.”

Office rents remained largely unchanged across the emirate, despite a 21 percent correction in upper limit rents in Bur Dubai. Such flat conditions are likely to continue through until the end of the year, Cluttons forecast, with free zone rates bucking the trend due to their desirability as submarkets.