The UAE plans to add 48,000 hotel rooms by 2030, 25 per cent more than its existing supply of 200,000 rooms, as more international travellers continue to flock to the Gulf tourism hub.
The delivery of the planned hotel room supply is forecast to cost about $32 billion, with a focus on luxury properties, global consultancy Knight Frank said. Some 70 per cent of all planned rooms will fall in the four-star and five-star categories.
"The success of the UAE’s hospitality market means international operators are keen to continue cementing their presence. Indeed, the proportion of international operators to local ones is set to rise to 60 per cent, from 56 per cent today," Faisal Durrani, partner and head of Middle East research at Knight Frank, said.
The UAE expects to see a “strong tourism recovery” this winter, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, said earlier this month. The total number of hotel guests in the UAE in the first half of the year increased by 42 per cent to reach 12 million. The tourism sector’s revenue exceeded Dh19bn during the first six months of 2022.
Some 76 per cent of the new hotel rooms will open in Dubai, which already has more than 130,000 hotel keys. The stockpile is already higher than cities such as London or New York.
Factors such as the government's response to the Covid-19 pandemic, along with a growing list of attractions and the emirate being named Trip Advisor’s most popular destination for 2022, "strongly point to room for further growth and expansion of this all-important pillar in the economy”, Mr Durrani said.
Dubai welcomed about 8.1 million international visitors in the first seven months of 2022. Government data showed this was an almost threefold increase compared with a year ago, surpassing the total for all of 2021. The emirate, whose tourism sector has recovered significantly from the pandemic, hosted 7.28 million visitors in 2021.
Knight Frank’s analysis showed that a growing number of international hotel operators were seeking to be part of the UAE's hospitality market.
Hilton Hotels will add the most rooms overall, with close to 5,000 new keys expected by the end of the decade, a 43 per cent increase from today, Mr Durrani said.
Inside Hilton Dubai Palm Jumeirah - in pictures
Knight Frank estimates that by 2030, the Accor Group will cement its place as UAE’s largest hotel room operator, with close to 25,000 rooms under management.
International and local operators such as IHG, Marriott International and Rotana said during the Future Hospitality Summit in Dubai last week that they were bullish on the UAE's growth prospects. This came amid a rise in tourist numbers and the coming Fifa World Cup in Qatar in November.
“The UAE’s three biggest cities ― Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah ― continue to lead the region in terms of hotel performance," Turab Saleem, partner and head of tourism and hospitality at Knight Frank, said.
Saudi Arabia is set for a "sea change in demand" as business and leisure travel begins to overwhelm the existing supply. This will lead to higher room rates and annual daily rates, while the existing number of hotel rooms remains inadequate for the expected demand, Mr Saleem said.
Saudi Arabia is pushing ahead with an ambitious hospitality development programme that will see more than 275,000 hotel rooms built across the kingdom over the course of the decade at a total cost of $110 billion, Knight Frank said.
"The region’s transforming hospitality sector is set to create a very attractive proposition for global travellers," Mr Saleem said.