Home » Saudi superprojects spearhead Middle Eastern hotel development
Business Economy Featured Global News News Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates

Saudi superprojects spearhead Middle Eastern hotel development

Saudi Arabia is leading the pack in a lively and growing high end hotel supply market in the Middle East, according to the latest data from THP.

Currently there are records of 556 projects in the region overall within the database, a rise of 4% from our analysis a year ago, when we noted 534 developments.

Massive investment

In terms of keys, the annual increase is even greater, at 6%, from a pipeline of 148,555 rooms in 2022 to 156,998 today.

Overall, premium Middle Eastern hotel projects collectively represent at least US$30.2 billion worth of investment, a considerable pot of funding.

Saudi supremacy

With the Saudi Arabian government’s Vision 2030 initiative to diversify the country’s economy, resulting in the initiation of many megaprojects involving hotels, it is no wonder the Kingdom represents over a third of the regional high end hotel pipeline.

The nation’s project count has accelerated by 22% over the past year, from 168 to 205 developments. Altogether these represent at least 81,056 keys.

Other hotspots

In runners up spot by country is the United Arab Emirates, on at least 126 sites comprising 31,740 keys, while Israel came a more distant third with 61 hotels of a minimum 10,917 keys.

In terms of individual cities, the UAE hub of Dubai tops the standings, with at least 75 premium projects underway. A pair of Saudi metropolises complete the podium, with Riyadh on 46 and Jeddah on 33.

Greatly greenfield

As so much liquidity is buoying the region, it’s unsurprising that newbuildings make up nearly 90% of the high end hotel pipeline, equivalent to at least 498 projects. In comparison, just 32 conversions are on the slate, alongside 23 conversions and three extensions.

Immediate openings are proving popular too, with 215 sites scheduled to complete this year. adding 48,603 keys to the Middle East’s stock. The rate drops rapidly in 2024 to 120 and 27,994 rooms, and again in 2025 to 64 deliveries representing 18,299 keys. While 45 additional sites are slated for 2026, the remaining 112 are either expected further in the future or have yet to be designated a delivery date.

The Middle East generally has a reputation for luxury hotels and while this is borne out in the data, it’s a close-run thing as compared with the upscale sector. The regional five star project total is at least 301  sites, representing 87,576 keys and 54% of upcoming developments. The other 46% is 255 four star hotels, comprising 69,422 rooms.

Brand plans

435 out of the 556 regional records in the THP database (78% of this total) are from major hotel brands as opposed to independent sites. Topping the group list is Marriott International, with at least 66 hotels planned for the Middle East, while Hilton Worldwide is close behind on at least 55, and likewise Accor with a minimum of 51.

For individual brands Hilton Garden Inn heads the tally with at least 11 upcoming developments, while Courtyard by Marriott and Kempinski Hotels & Resorts are both just behind on 10.

Megaprojects to monitor

Some of the Saudi megaprojects recently making headlines are Mukaab and Amaala. Mukaab is part of the New Murabba project which aims to develop the world’s largest modern downtown in Riyadh. Within this will be a massive 9,000 hotel rooms, though the developer, state-backed New Murabba Development Company, has not yet signed deals with any hotel brands. The project is due to be completed in 2030.

Meanwhile, Amaala in Al Wajh, on the country’s north west coast, has announced the first few brands which will start to form the planks of its 3,000 key provision by the end of 2025. Developer Red Sea Global kicked off its deals with Clinique La Prairie Health Resort, which will offer 66 ultra-luxury suites and 13 branded residence villas when it opens in Q3 2024. Next up was an agreement for the 153-room and 24 branded residence Jayasom Wellness Resort, Amaala, due to open in Q2 2024. Most recently, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts joined the fray with Rosewood Amaala, scheduled to deliver 135 keys in Q4 2025.

Source: Top Hotel