The Gulf hotel industry has made great strides in becoming international. Specialized national enterprises in hotel management were started and were widespread regionally and globally within a few years, riding the economic boom which created new sectors. While the Emirates Group governmental company Dubai Holding's Jumera Hospitality was the first to achieve international fame through owning and running dozens of hotels around the world, the Emirates Group's Rotana for Hotels is the second with a significant breakthrough in an industry previously monopolized by the West through specializing in the management of hotels owned by other investors in many countries of the region.
Al-Zeer revealed deployment plans beyond the Middle East are coming soon, now that the group exists in most its States. Saudi Arabia is an absolute priority for the company during the current year, in light of its anticipated surge in tourism, followed by Morocco. UAE companies are expected to achieve the largest breakthroughs in the regional hotel industry in the coming years, given their great knowledge of the market and the habits and traditions of the region, not to mention the international level of their professional expertise.
He pointed out that Saudi Arabia was the only country in the region where the Group did not to operate so far, which makes it the company's first priority. There have been important economic developments and legislative reforms, opening the promise of a great hotels and tourism industry. He confirmed that the Group is studying offers for the management of hotels in Mecca and Medina; also, it is looking for new opportunities in other big cities such as Riyadh, Dammam and Khobar.
Rotana currently runs 25 hotels with 5615 rooms in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Sudan and the Gulf States, and it will operate 28 hotels now in development, bringing the 2010 number to 53 hotels with about 16 thousand rooms.
Regarding the entrance into the Iraqi market at the present time, he indicated that there are negotiations with investors for the management of hotels in Irbil and Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq as a first stage, stressing that political and security problems affect the tourism and hotel sector more than other economic ;;/sectors, but said, "We must deal with these problems as a part of life, and there are practically no regions in the world free of problems."
Al-Zeer expected a boom in the hotel sector in the region exceeding the estimates announced recently by international companies, which expected the establishment of 50 thousand rooms in the region by 2010, pointing out that the plan of the government of Dubai alone requires lifting the Principality's capacity from about 40 thousand rooms now to 100 thousand. This means that Dubai alone will add about 60 thousand rooms to the regional capacity
In spite of expectations that the large increase in the number of hotels in the region will lead to a corrective wave, he said that any correction in the sector will only take place after about four years, in light of the unprecedented boom and the opening of many large markets such as Saudi Arabia. He said that in case the correction happened, it won't be more than a simple easing closer to stability rather than a decline, rejecting the comparisons with shares, which he described as "paper" -- unlike hotels, which are real and concrete investments. He also denied expectations of low hotel room prices, or a hotel price war with the entry of new hotels to the market, stressing that the decisive factor in this matter is supply and demand, and that demand in the region is much larger than current supply and is expected to remain so during the next few years. Hotel occupancy in the UAE is currently estimated at 95%; a correction would draw it down to 90 or 85%, still higher than the international average.(Source)Brian Hall