RIYADH: As Saudi Arabia shows dramatic progress in the travel and tourism sector, Dubai-based Aleph Hospitality has revealed its plans to operate 10 hotels in the Kingdom within the next three to four years.
During an interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the Future Hospitality Summit in Riyadh on May 9, Bani Haddad, founder and managing director of the group, said Saudi Arabia has tremendous opportunities in the hotel industry, not just in main cities, but also in secondary and tertiary cities.
“Last month, we announced the opening of our office in Riyadh to service our Saudi Arabian operations. And that goes a little bit with what I mentioned about being flexible and focused on our hotels. We cannot pretend to manage hotels in Saudi Arabia without having a local presence here,” said Haddad.
He added: “We are working with some government-led initiatives, the funds to support them, to support investors, local developers in secondary and tertiary cities. Our plan is to have about 10 operating hotels in Saudi Arabia within the next three to four years.”
Haddad added that Aleph Hospitality always wanted a Saudi national to lead the company’s operations in the Kingdom, and as a part of this, Tariq Yousef Dowidar was appointed its vice president for Saudi Arabia in March.
As the company’s key representative in the Kingdom, Dowidar will be responsible for leading Aleph Hospitality in Saudi Arabia.
He has 26 years of hospitality experience, most recently as area general manager for IHG hotels and general manager of InterContinental Riyadh.
Haddad further noted that Saudi Arabia is showing tremendous improvement in the tourism sector, and added that the Kingdom is opening up a whole new horizon for the hospitality industry.
“If you look at domestic tourism in Saudi Arabia, it has reached around 30 million … these are massive numbers. Yesterday, I came to Riyadh, and for the first time in 18 years, I received a visa on arrival which is an amazing thing for tourism. It is going to open up a whole new horizon. And that is why we are excited about the secondary and tertiary cities,” he continued.
He went on to say Aleph Hospitality is expected to announce two new hotels in Saudi Arabia by the end of this year.
Talking about the operational style of Aleph Hospitality, Haddad said his company is an independent hotel management company that offers operations on behalf of real hotel owners.
“We operate hotels on behalf of owners, for owners, whether on a white label basis, meaning no international brand or no brand. We also assist the owner in securing an international franchise. And we operate under the standards of this international franchise, be it Marriott, Hilton, InterContinental, or Hyatt. We provide day-to-day management services for the hotel investors,” said Haddad.