Analysts at Lodging Econometrics (LE) state in the 2019 year-end report that the hotel construction pipeline in the Middle East stands at 618 projects/178,384 rooms, compared to 622 projects/181,813 rooms at the end of 2018. The pipeline in the Middle East remains strong as room counts have been over 170,000 in every quarter of the past two years.
Projects currently under construction are at 357 projects/117,112 rooms. Projects scheduled to start construction in the next 12 months stand at 128 projects/32,684 rooms and projects in the early planning stage are at 133 projects/28,588 rooms.
The Middle East had 88 new hotels/22,605 rooms open in 2019. This is the highest count since LE began tracking the region and surpasses the previous record of 72 new hotel openings/19,756 rooms set in 2009. The LE forecast for new hotel openings continues to rise with 113 new hotels/32,230 rooms expected to open in 2020 and 129 new hotels/34,427 rooms in 2021.
Countries with the greatest number of projects in the construction pipeline are Saudi Arabia with 214 projects/73,137 rooms and the United Arab Emirates with 193 projects/57,723 rooms. Distantly following is Egypt, at an all-time high, with 65 projects/16,097 rooms, then Qatar with 56 projects/14,257 rooms and Oman with 42 projects/7,972 rooms.
Dubai continues to lead the construction pipeline in the United Arab Emirates and throughout the Middle East with 152 projects/46,941 rooms. Dubai is a popular area for hotel development with the current driver of development being the upcoming World Expo 2020, opening in October and operating until April 2021. Millions of people already visit Dubai each year, and the World Expo 2020 is expected to bring millions more. To accommodate the increase in hotel demand that this event is expected to produce, development began at the site four years ago. This led to Dubai opening 70 new hotels with 17,919 rooms in 2018 and 2019 combined. Throughout 2020, another 31 new hotels/10,217 rooms are forecast to open.
Cities with the largest hotel construction pipelines are the Provincial region with 70 projects/14,422 rooms; Riyadh with 59 projects/11,163 rooms; Jeddah with 53 projects/11,309 rooms; Doha, Qatar, with 49 projects/11,951 rooms; and Makkah with 32 projects/36,243 rooms. In the Middle East, 43% of the projects and 48% of the rooms in the construction pipeline can be found within these five cities.
At the 2019 year-end, Marriott International is the top franchise company in the Middle East with a record 97 projects having 24,199 rooms. Next is Hilton with 92 projects/25,289 rooms and then Accor with 90 projects/26,824 rooms.
The leading pipeline brands for these companies are Marriott’s Courtyard with 23 projects/4,839 rooms and Residence Inn with 16 projects/1,877 rooms. Both of these brands are at record highs; Hilton’s DoubleTree with 27 projects/6,711 rooms and the full-service Hilton Hotels & Resorts with 21 projects/6,682 rooms; Accor’s top brands are the Ibis brands with 15 projects/5,113 rooms and Novotel with 13 projects/4,773 rooms.