Thousands of Muslim pilgrims moving around the Kaaba in Mecca. A growing number of worshippers has resulted in an increased focus on better quality accommodation. Hassan Ammar / AP Photo
Thousands of Muslim pilgrims moving around the Kaaba in Mecca. A growing number of worshippers has resulted in an increased focus on better quality accommodation. Hassan Ammar / AP Photo

Hotel operators flocking to Mecca

Three major hotel groups have signed up to manage properties as part of one of the world's largest hospitality developments in Mecca, designed to accommodate the growing number of pilgrims visiting the holy site.

Hilton Worldwide plans to manage six hotels in the long-delayed Jabal Omar project, which overlooks the Grand Mosque. This includes one property under its Conrad luxury brand. Marriott and Hyatt will manage three hotels each as part of the multibillion-dollar development, the operators announced.

Analysts said the project had been delayed because of issues involved in securing financing.

"Now things are moving ahead," said Chiheb ben Mahmoud, the senior vice president at Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, Middle East and Africa. He said other international hotel operators were planning to manage hotels in the development.

Mr ben Mahmoud said much of the available accommodation at the holy site did not meet the standards required of pilgrims. The number travelling to Mecca and Medina is expected to almost double to 13.75 million within the next decade, according to Jones Lang LaSalle.

This has resulted in an increased focus on better quality accommodation.

"It's part of the general improvement of the hospitality facilities in Mecca to bring it to more conventional and international standards, as opposed to the non-serviced residential market that has been prevailing for centuries," Mr ben Mahmoud said.

In October, Saudi Arabia's Jabal Omar Development announced bridge loans worth 1.35 billion riyals (Dh1.32bn) from five banks and plans to issue 3bn riyals in sukuk. It awarded a 3.4bn riyals construction contract to Nesma & Partners Contracting for the first phase of the project in December.

Hilton said it would recruit 9,000 staff over the next three to four years as it expanded in the country.

"We've got a huge task ahead of us to recruit the number of people required for our upcoming hotels in the kingdom," said Rudi Jagersbacher, Hilton Worldwide's area president, Middle East and Africa.

To meet legal requirements, Hilton says "a significant number of these team members will be Saudi nationals".

To achieve this, Hilton has partnered with the Prince Sultan College for Tourism and Business to develop its own hospitality curriculum and qualification.

Hilton already operates six properties in Saudi Arabia and plans to bring that number.

Its six new hotels in Mecca are scheduled to open in 2014, under various brands including Conrad, Hilton and DoubleTree.

Marriott is to open a 636-room JW Marriott hotel, along with one under the Marriott brand and a moderately priced Courtyard property.

Hyatt, making its first venture into Mecca, said it would open the first of its three hotels in 2013.

Other luxury operators already have hotels near the holy site. Fairmont has an 858-room property in a towering structure that resembles Big Ben in London near the Grand Mosque. The tower, which features a clock 40 metres wide, is part of the Abraj Al Bait complex. A Raffles hotel has also opened as part of this development, with a Swissotel also planned. Abu Dhabi's Rotana also operates a hotel overlooking the Grand Mosque.


Engine: Dual electric motors with 102kW battery pack

Power: 570hp

Torque: 890Nm

Range: Up to 428km

On sale: Now

Price: From Dh1,700,000

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★


Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5


Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates


Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)


Facebook: TheNationalNews 

Twitter: @thenationalnews 


TikTok: @thenationalnews

Inside Out 2

Director: Kelsey Mann

Starring: Amy Poehler, Maya Hawke, Ayo Edebiri

Rating: 4.5/5

Tips for holiday homeowners

There are several factors for landlords to consider when preparing to establish a holiday home:

  • Revenue potential of the unit: location, view and size
  • Design: furnished or unfurnished. Is the design up to standard, while being catchy at the same time?
  • Business model: will it be managed by a professional operator or directly by the owner, how often does the owner wants to use it for personal reasons?
  • Quality of the operator: guest reviews, customer experience management, application of technology, average utilisation, scope of services rendered

Source: Adam Nowak, managing director of Ultimate Stay Vacation Homes Rental

Red Joan

Director: Trevor Nunn

Starring: Judi Dench, Sophie Cookson, Tereza Srbova

Rating: 3/5 stars

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices


Display: Main – 6.7" FHD+ Dynamic Amoled 2X, 2640 x 1080, 22:9, 425ppi, HDR10+, up to 120Hz; cover – 3/4" Super Amoled, 720 x 748, 306ppi

Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, 4nm, octa-core; Adreno 740 GPU

Memory: 8GB

Capacity: 256/512GB

Platform: Android 13, One UI 5.1.1

Main camera: Dual 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.2) + 12MP wide (f/1.8), OIS

Video: 4K@30/60fps, full-HD@60/240fps, HD@960fps

Front camera: 10MP (f/2.2)

Battery: 3700mAh, 25W fast charging, 15W wireless, 4.5W reverse wireless

Connectivity: 5G; Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.3, NFC (Samsung Pay)


Cards: Nano-SIM + eSIM; no microSD slot

Colours: Cream, graphite, lavender, mint; exclusives – blue, grey, green, yellow

In the box: Flip 4, USB-C-to-USB-C cable

Price: Dh3,899 / Dh4,349

Most Read
Top Videos

Checking In

Travel updates and inspiration from the past week

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      Checking In