Makkah’s hospitality sector eyeing recovery

The hotel sector in Makkah is the strongest in the Middle East, says expert. (SPA)
The hotel sector in Makkah is the strongest in the Middle East, says expert. (SPA)
Short Url
Updated 25 July 2021

Makkah’s hospitality sector eyeing recovery

The hotel sector in Makkah is the strongest in the Middle East, says expert. (SPA)
  • Several services can also be built upon within the hospitality industry to create diverse “backup sectors” that the industry can fall back in exceptional circumstances

MAKKAH: The hospitality sector in Makkah is beginning to look forward to a strong recovery from the devastating economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and experts predict hotels could begin to see results within two years.
The city, the third-most densely populated in the Kingdom, is particularly well served in terms of hotels — almost two-thirds of all those in Saudi Arabia can be found there. Before the pandemic it was a thriving sector, its growth fueled by the ever-increasing numbers of visitors from around the world who flock to Makkah for the annual Hajj pilgrimage or to complete their Umrah rituals.
COVID-19 changed everything. However, experts predict that after the dramatic decline in business caused by the pandemic, “hotel recuperation” plans could begin to yield results by 2023 as the world slowly starts to emerge from lockdown.
Fadhel Manqal, manager of a hotel in the city and a member of the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and industry hotels committee, told Arab News that the sector has faced immense challenges for almost two years.
“The sector has experienced an economic downturn,” he said. “This has crippled its economic power, which is an important contributor to the local economy. It has borne the burden of the effects of the pandemic, which has had a negative effect on all areas of the global economy, including significant implications for the hotel sector.

FASTFACT

The city, the third-most densely populated in the Kingdom, is particularly well served in terms of hotels — almost two-thirds of all those in Saudi Arabia can be found there.

“Makkah’s hotels were not spared; they have suffered substantial losses, leading some to close down and others to suspend their activities or recover partially. Many have suffered losses worth billions.”
Manqal said that the hotel sector in Makkah is the strongest in the Middle East, with more than 1,300 hotels that are expected to receive 30 million pilgrims by 2030, as visitor numbers increase as a result of the National Transformation Program and the wider Saudi Vision 2030. But it is still suffering real hardship, he added, despite the early signs of recovery.
The hospitality industry has been irreversibly changed by the health crisis, he said, adding that despite the efforts of some governments to minimize the effects and reduce losses, it has been an economic catastrophe for the sector and the fates of many businesses hang in the balance.
“Not everyone is capable of recovery, adapting or even reorganizing,” said Manqal. “The large five-star hotel chains near the Grand Mosque in Makkah will certainly recover quickly, especially the ones in the central area or the commercial districts near the holy sites in Al-Aziziyah.
“There is no doubt that the unfolding effects on the industry pose a challenge even for more-experienced hotel owners.” For this reason it is vital that businesses plan for the future and confront obstacles, he added.
Saudi authorities began to look for ways to help people and plan for recovery early in the pandemic, said Manqal. For example, they provided assistance through the SANED unemployment insurance program for the families of Saudi hotel workers.
With continued support from the authorities, and the gradual return of Umrah pilgrims from within the Kingdom and, in initially limited numbers, other countries as vaccination rates increase around the world, Manqal said that he expects the sector to begin to recover by 2023.
This gives hospitality providers time to consider their options and develop a better understanding of their perfect hotel guest, he added, but some service providers will face greater challenges than others, particularly those that were heavily dependent on the annual Hajj and Umrah seasons.
Economic analyst Fadl Abu Al-Ainain told Arab News that he expects the sector will continue to experience hardship until the end of this year and that greater public and private sector support, in the form of exceptional incentive programs, as well as the Kingdom’s rapidly expanding vaccination program, will alleviate the continuing effects of the pandemic on Makkah’s hospitality industry.
“Recovery is linked to the return of pilgrims at levels similar to those in the past, and this cannot be achieved due to the coronavirus,” he said. “Consequently, change in the sector is closely linked to a full recovery from the pandemic. Thus, there should be greater focus on reducing the effects of the pandemic on the sector through the provision of government support, as well as measures to reduce the financial burdens on the sector.
“There should be a mechanism for coping with exceptional circumstances, which would also require an enhancement of crisis management that would cover financial and operational damage,” Al-Ainain added.
“The sector has not achieved efficiency in combating crises, and its ability to withstand shocks is nonexistent, but the pandemic situation might open the door for the development of strategies to urgently manage crises in the future.
“I think that reconsidering the value of lease agreements and fixed costs, in partnership with the government, are tools that could be used to address this crisis, and that more sharing of risk among all parties to a contract might reduce the magnitude of losses and the burden of them falling mostly on just one side.”
Several services can also be built upon within the hospitality industry to create diverse “backup sectors” that the industry can fall back in exceptional circumstances, Al-Ainain said, lamenting the fact that “no one searched for them in the past due to the steady and easy income during the high season.”


Saudi Defense Ministry hosts its first Strategic Communication Forum

Saudi Defense Ministry hosts its first Strategic Communication Forum
Updated 17 September 2021

Saudi Defense Ministry hosts its first Strategic Communication Forum

Saudi Defense Ministry hosts its first Strategic Communication Forum
  • Event is part of project to develop ministry’s internal and external communications to meet the requirements of modern media applications and practices

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Defense held its first Strategic Communication Forum on Thursday in Riyadh. The aim was to engage the ministry’s communication staff across the Kingdom with its targeted operating model, to help achieve the objectives of its transformation program.

The event, which took place under the patronage of Khalid Al-Biyari, assistant minister of defense for executive affairs, also formed part of the ministry’s project to develop its internal and external communications to meet the requirements of modern media applications and practices.

The forum included a number of workshops, presented by Prince Ahmed bin Salman Applied Media Academy, focusing on communications-related subjects such as creative content creation, video production for social media and event management. The participants included officials and communication specialists from the Saudi Armed Forces, joint forces and the military’s Health Services Department.

Al-Biyari said during the forum that the ministry views strategic communication as a crucial approach to achieving excellence in performance.

“Adding strategic value to communications raises our media practices to a more advanced level in terms of planning the dissemination of key messages,” he said. “The rapid and frequent advancements in technology make it inevitable that all organizations, not only the Ministry of Defense, must think of communication with audiences strategically.”

Ahmed Ali Asiri, the deputy minister for strategic affairs and a keynote speaker at the event, stressed the importance of strategic communications to the ministry’s media activities. He said it is imperative for all employees to receive updated information accurately and in a timely manner, to ensure the quality and efficiency of operations.

He added that strategic communication is vital to send the right messages about the work of the ministry.

Abdullrahman Al-Sultan, the ministry’s director-general of strategic communications and media, gave a presentation about the role of his directorate, its organizational structure and the strategy behind its operating model.


Saudi crown prince, Spanish prime minister hold call

Saudi crown prince, Spanish prime minister hold call
Updated 17 September 2021

Saudi crown prince, Spanish prime minister hold call

Saudi crown prince, Spanish prime minister hold call

NEOM: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was in a phone call on Thursday with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
The pair discussed bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Spain and ways to enhance them.


Saudi aid agency KSrelief delivers food aid to Mali, medical support to Uruguay

Saudi aid agency KSrelief delivers food aid to Mali, medical support to Uruguay
Updated 17 September 2021

Saudi aid agency KSrelief delivers food aid to Mali, medical support to Uruguay

Saudi aid agency KSrelief delivers food aid to Mali, medical support to Uruguay

BAMAKO: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center recently launched a project to distribute food aid to the poor in Mali.

An event to mark the distribution was attended by Saudi ambassador to Mali Khalid Al-Khalid, a KSrelief team and a number of Malian officials.

The aid includes 15,038 bags of rice, weighing 752 tons. It will be distributed to a number of Malian regions, benefiting 120,304 individuals.

It comes within the framework of humanitarian and relief projects being implemented by the Kingdom, through KSrelief, for countries and peoples around the world.

Meanwhile, KSrelief delivered medical and preventive assistance to Uruguay in order to help the country combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

On behalf of KSrelief, Saudi Ambassador to Uruguay Eyad bin Ghazi Hakim officially handed over the support in the presence of Uruguayan Minister of Public Health Daniel Salinas.

Salinas said that Uruguay has “benefited greatly” from Saudi assistance in its fight against the pandemic.


Saudi Arabia raises awareness on World Patient Safety Day

Saudi Arabia raises awareness on World Patient Safety Day
Updated 17 September 2021

Saudi Arabia raises awareness on World Patient Safety Day

Saudi Arabia raises awareness on World Patient Safety Day

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has joined the world in celebrating World Patient Safety Day 2021.

The Saudi Patient Safety Center said that the 72nd World Health Assembly, affiliated with the World Health Organization, adopted in May 2019 a global action on patient safety, which guarantees celebrating a world day on patient safety each year.

The SPSC noted that this year saw the inauguration of an awareness campaign under the theme “safe maternal and newborn care,” which aims at raising community awareness on the safety of mothers and newborns.

It also aims to support the best health practices to reduce risks and deaths that can be avoided during delivery.


Deal signed to empower locals in Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah community

Deal signed to empower locals in Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah community
Updated 17 September 2021

Deal signed to empower locals in Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah community

Deal signed to empower locals in Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah community

RIYADH: The Diriyah Gate Development Authority has signed a memorandum of understanding with Jahez International Company to strengthen their partnership, activating initiatives for charitable and community work, supporting working families and training young men and women in the province.

The agreement also covers the exchange of and participation in relevant studies and statistics to achieve the objectives of joint initiatives, empowering and developing the Diriyah community by providing opportunities for working families, offering training programs and offers and discounts to target groups and promoting events and initiatives to support community groups.

Jahez is one of the most important active partners for many community and charitable events organized by the DGDA, the most recent of which was the “Jahiziyat Al-Diriyah” initiative, during which the authority provided hundreds of free dishes from restaurants offering authentic Najd cuisine.

The initiative also featured many competitions and events during the holy month of Ramadan, introducing the historical monuments and the ancient human and cultural heritage in the land of kings and heroes.