RIYADH: Hospitality and residential projects worth $1.9 trillion are fueling a transformation of the Middle East, according to a report released ahead of a major industry conference.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt are at the forefront of this change, representing 90 percent, or $1.7 trillion, of the total investment, according to research by real estate consultants Knight Frank.
These findings were shared in anticipation of the Future Hospitality Summit, scheduled to be held in Abu Dhabi from Sept. 25 to 27.
The report stated that the Kingdom leads the regional investment chart with projects worth $1.2 trillion. The UAE and Egypt followed suit, with $300 billion and $200 billion earmarked, respectively.
These ventures underline the Arab world’s goal of attracting 160 million tourists annually by 2030.
“The Middle East’s travel and tourism sector witnessed tremendous growth with a 46.9 percent increase in its contribution to the gross domestic product in 2023, which is the highest of any region in the world,” Turab Saleem, partner and head of hospitality, tourism and leisure for the Middle East and North Africa at Knight Frank, said.
He added: “This growth is being driven by a 14.5 percent increase in the number of jobs supported by the sector and a more than $107 billion increase in its overall contribution to the gross domestic product. Moreover, the sector has also created 0.9 million new jobs.”
Global commercial real estate experts Colliers also provide insights into the current landscape, revealing numerous advanced-stage hospitality-related negotiations. Several high-profile properties are poised for acquisition in the ensuing months.
James Wrenn, executive director and head of Capital Markets, MENA, at Colliers, said: “There’s a strong appetite for the hospitality asset class — particularly in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah — from regional and international investors, buoyed by strong operating performance last year and the continued enhancement of the UAE as a top-tier international tourism destination.”
Additionally, Hala Choufany, president of global hospitality consulting firm HVS, expressed her hope for the industry’s growth in the region.
“The number of quality hotel rooms in the region grew fivefold from about 100,000 in 2010 to 540,000 in 2022, with occupied room nights growing from 27 million to 135 million. An additional 180,000 keys are expected to enter the region over the next five years, which is forecast to increase occupied room nights to 184 million by 2028,” Choufany said.
She added: “Today, the Middle East is expected to achieve higher growth compared to other regions, presenting attractive financial returns and providing long-term investment opportunities.”
The upcoming FHS in Abu Dhabi promises insights from over 100 industry leaders that will delve deep into the opportunities present in the region’s tourism sector, and is being held under the theme “Focus on Investment.”