Makkah, Riyadh projects to add almost 30,000 rooms in Saudi hotel market

Above, construction cranes are seen outside the Grand Mosque in Makkah in this January 2016 photo. About 23,307 hotel rooms are now under construction in Makkah, which will add to the 32,377 rooms already in the market. (Reuters)
Updated 14 February 2018
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Makkah, Riyadh projects to add almost 30,000 rooms in Saudi hotel market

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s focus on tourism as one avenue to diversify the Kingdom away from oil dependence is receiving a boost with a slew of hotel projects now under construction.
Industry monitor STR, in its latest update on the Middle East and Africa hotel sector, said that projects now being undertaken in Makkah and Riyadh would add almost 30,000 rooms to the current supply.
In Riyadh, a total 6,290 hotel rooms are now being built to complement the 13,104 rooms in inventory while in Makkah about 23,307 are now in construction, which will add to the 32,377 rooms already in the market.
In other Gulf areas, current hotel projects in Dubai would add 36,394 rooms to the 97,736 rooms in supply while in Abu Dhabi about 4,064 rooms are now being constructed to boost the 26,678 rooms available to clients.
STR also noted that 333 properties are under construction in the wider Middle East region, comprising 105,037 hotel rooms while 146 projects are being implemented in Africa, equivalent to 26,030 rooms.
Meanwhile, STR said that the revenue per available room (RevPAR) and average daily rate (ADR) of Jeddah hotels slightly dipped in January despite an increase in demand during the month.
The ADR was 2.4 percent lower to SR732.33 while RevPAR slipped 2.1 percent to 370.33 on an industry occupancy rate of 50.6%. RevPAR, a key hotel industry performance indicator, is obtained by multiplying a hotel’s ADR by its occupancy rate.
“The month’s high demand growth figure was boosted by the school holiday during the middle of January,” STR said in its report.
Hotel room availability in Jeddah was up 11.7 percent in January, while demand grew at a faster 12.1 percent rate.


Trump administration weighs slapping tariffs on auto imports

Updated 35 min 8 sec ago
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Trump administration weighs slapping tariffs on auto imports

WASHINGTON: The US Commerce Department said Wednesday it launched an inquiry that could allow the Trump administration to impose tariffs on auto imports over national security concerns.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced he initiated a so-called Section 232 investigation on auto trade — which would provide the legal basis to impose tariffs, if his department finds imports threaten US national security — after speaking with Donald Trump on the matter.
“There is evidence suggesting that, for decades, imports from abroad have eroded our domestic auto industry,” Ross said.
“The Department of Commerce will conduct a thorough, fair, and transparent investigation into whether such imports are weakening our internal economy and may impair the national security.”
In a separate statement released by the White House, Trump said he had “instructed” Ross to “consider” kicking off the probe.
“Core industries such as automobiles and automotive parts are critical to our strength as a nation,” Trump’s statement said.
The Trump administration had used the same justification to slap steep tariffs on steel and aluminum, raising the specter of a trade war.
A similar move in the auto industry would open yet another front in the Republican president’s confrontational rows over trade that have drawn global outcry from allies and partners.
The latest announcement comes as negotiations with Canada and Mexico over revamping the continent-wide North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have stalled over auto demands.
Earlier Thursday, Trump had blamed the US neighbors to the north and south for being “difficult” in talks to renegotiate the pact.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Wednesday that Trump was asking for vehicle import tariffs as high as 25 percent.
Trump has frequently lambasted China’s high import duties on foreign cars.
During recent negotiations, President Xi Jinping offered to cut the rate to 15 percent from 25 percent.
The Journal, citing sources in the auto industry, said US moves to retaliate likely would face significant opposition from trading partners and auto dealers that sell imports.
Japan was quick to lash out, with its trade minister Hiroshige Seko saying on Thursday that such a move would “plunge the world market into confusion” and be “extremely regrettable.”
Passenger cars make up around 30 percent of Japan’s total exports to the US and Tokyo has already threatened Washington with retaliation at the World Trade Organization for the steel tariffs.
In its statement announcing the inquiry, the Commerce Department cited figures showing that US employment in automobile manufacturing had dropped by 22 percent from 1990 to 2017.
Trump appeared to tease Wednesday’s announcement with earlier tweets, saying: “There will be big news coming soon for our great American autoworkers.”
“After many decades of losing your jobs to other countries, you have waited long enough!”
In another missive referring to trade talks with China, he said that, while the discussions were proceeding nicely, “in the end we will probably have to use a different structure.”
Trump — whose protectionist platform helped launch him to the White House — has repeatedly floated the notion of steep tariffs that would shield the US auto industry.
He has specifically targeted Germany, and argued that American cars are slapped with higher tariffs than those imposed on European autos.
US cars sold in the EU are hit with 10 percent duties, while the US imposes just 2.5 percent on cars from the EU.
But Washington imposes 25 percent tariffs on European pick-ups and trucks — which the EU taxes at a much lower 14 percent on average.