The Jumeirah Group, the hospitality subsidiary of government-owned investment conglomerate Dubai Holding, will enter Bahrain for the first time, with a new five-star luxury hotel set to open in February.
Dubai Holding and Sevens Holding, which is owned by the Bahraini ruling family, signed an agreement for the Jumeirah Group to manage the 167-room Jumeirah Royal Saray Bahrain hotel, the parties said in a statement on Sunday.
Under the deal, Dubai-based Jumeirah Group becomes the UAE’s first luxury hospitality firm to operate in Bahrain, growing its portfolio to 21 hotels with around 6,000 room keys.
Jumeirah, the company that manages Burj Al Arab hotel, currently operates 20 hotels in nine markets, including Kuwait and the UAE.
“This signing is a landmark in achieving our strategic expansion goals worldwide,” said Edris AlRafi, chief executive of Dubai Holding.
“We have been looking to bring Jumeirah to Bahrain for a number of years and are delighted to partner with Sevens Holding for Jumeirah Royal Saray – Bahrain.”
Jumeirah’s expansion to Bahrain comes on the back of an improved outlook for the tourism industry in the island Arabian Gulf state, which is working to further diversify its economy following a period of slow economic growth.
A total of 8.7 million tourists visited Bahrain in the first nine months of 2017, a 12 per cent increase from the same period last year, figures from the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) showed last month.
“The Bahraini tourism industry is increasingly growing, with rising inflows of business and leisure travellers visiting the Kingdom on an annual basis,” said Mohamed Al Kayed, chief executive of Sevens Holding in the statement announcing the Jumeirah agreement.
The five-star Jumeirah Royal Saray is located on a beachfront location in Bahrain. When complete, it will have 167 guest rooms including two Royal Suites, a variety of dining and recreational options, and a health club and spa.
Overall non-oil activity is picking up in Bahrain, the smallest Gulf economy.
Growth in Bahrain’s non-oil sector reached 4.7 percent in the first half of 2017, an improvement on the 4 per cent growth recorded during 2016 as a whole, according to the country’s inward investment agency, Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB).
Overall real economic growth in the kingdom reached 3.4 per cent for the first half of 2016.
The IMF has been more conservative on Bahrain's growth, setting its forecasts at 2.3 per cent for 2017 after an official visit to the kingdom in April.
Bahrain is still grappling with sizeable public debt nearing 82 per cent of GDP in 2016 – among the highest levels in the GCC – and is taking fiscal consolidation and diversification measures to rebalance its economy, according to the IMF. Tourism is among the industries it hopes to grow as part of this strategy.
Separately, the Jumeirah Group announced on Sunday a significant planned refurbishment to its oldest property, Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai.
To mark the hotel's 21st anniversary celebrations, 425 rooms, the lobby, retail areas, a section of the beach, outdoor facilities and restaurants will be renovated between May and October 2018, following an earlier refurbishment programme this year.
The hotel will stop receiving guests during that period, however, the Wild Wadi Waterpark, Talise Gym, the remaining section of beach, Kids Club and La Veranda facilities will remain unaffected, Jumeirah Group said.