Rotana announces expansion plans in Saudi Arabia

Updated 09 February 2018
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Rotana announces expansion plans in Saudi Arabia

Rotana, a leading hotel management company in the region, has laid out plans for aggressive expansion of its portfolio in the Kingdom.
Rotana has planned five hotels in major cities across the country to add more than 1,150 keys to its already strong portfolio, the company’s chief operating officer Guy Hutchinson said on the sidelines of the Rotana Hotels 2018 GCC Roadshow.
He said the aim is to contribute to the country’s efforts to achieve its goals outlined in the Saudi Vision 2030, and its initiatives aimed at promoting the domestic tourism sector, including the Red Sea coastline project.
With its rapidly growing economy, the Kingdom is one of the fastest growing markets for Rotana, which currently operates four hotels and 1,258 rooms in Riyadh, Jeddah and Makkah.
Rotana has planned to open four new hotels under its “Centro by Rotana” brand in Riyadh, Jeddah, Alkhobar and Madinah. Another hotel, Dana Rayhaan by Rotana, will open in Dammam. The company already has more than 500 keys at two operating hotels for budget-conscious travelers in Riyadh and Jeddah.
Hutchinson said: “Travel and tourism continued to be one of the world’s fastest-growing sectors in 2017, and the outlook for the industry in 2018 remains robust, given the anticipated increase in the number of travelers from developing and emerging countries and rising disposable income of people coupled with their yearning for unique experiences.
“Increasing airline competition that has brought down the cost of travel, and strong demand for business travel will further drive growth in the sector. Driven by recent reforms and the country’s endeavors to diversify its economy, the hospitality sector in the Kingdom is headed for a growth it has never seen. The initiatives such as the $500 billion Red Sea coastline project and plans to issue tourism visas will accelerate the country’s economic diversification to achieve less reliance on oil and transform it into a global tourism destination.
“We have diversified our portfolio to match the needs of travelers of all kinds, and with our strong market presence and unique offering, Rotana is well-positioned to capitalize on the booming growth of the sector in the Kingdom,” Hutchinson concluded.


Russia: West is obstructing aid to Syria, return of refugees

Updated 24 sec ago
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Russia: West is obstructing aid to Syria, return of refugees

MOSCOW: Russia has lashed out at Western countries, accusing them of blocking UN aid for Syria’s reconstruction and trying to prevent the return of refugees.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said after talks with his Lebanese counterpart, Gibran Bassil, that the US refusal to provide assistance for rebuilding Syria after more than seven years of fighting would deter Syrians from returning to their homes.
Russia has been the chief backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, helping his forces to regain control over most of the country. Now Moscow is calling on Western countries, which backed the opposition, to help fund reconstruction efforts, saying it would reduce the flow of refugees and migrants to Western Europe.
Speaking after the talks with Bassil, Lavrov bristled at the US and its Western allies for making assistance to Syria contingent on a political transition process.
He also accused the West of pressuring the UN to stay away from reconstruction efforts in Syria.
Lavrov said Moscow is looking into why the UN cultural agency, UNESCO, is dragging its feet on the reconstruction of world-famous archaeological sites in the Syrian city of Palmyra.
He said the UN Secretariat’s political department has explicitly banned any involvement in reconstruction in Syria pending a political settlement.
Lavrov added that he voiced a strong protest against the move in a phone conversation with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“It’s inadmissible when a group of countries manipulates secretariats of international organizations, which are supposed to be unbiased and independent,” Lavrov said.
“The UN was created on the basis of ... equality of all countries. I strongly urge our Western partners to return to that principle and not try to covertly exploit international organizations.”
He also criticized recent comments by Filippo Grandi, the head of the UN refugee agency, who said last week that it was too soon to talk about the mass repatriation of the more than 5 million Syrian refugees.
Lavrov said the UNHCR should not be a “subsidiary of a group of Western countries.”
Lavrov also charged that Al-Qaeda terrorists located near Al-Tanf in southeastern Syria, where US military advisers are based, have launched raids intended to prevent refugees from coming back from Jordan.
Bassil said Lebanon, which is hosting more than 1 million refugees, fully supports Russian efforts to help Syrians return.
“Lebanon supports the quick and safe return of Syrian refugees without any link to a political solution,” Bassil said.
“The circumstances in Syria have changed and many areas are safe, and for that reason there is no reason for the refugees to stay.”
He said Lebanon would be in contact with Syria to support Russian initiatives to help the refugees return.