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Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC 2011) Highlights Growth Potential
in Saudi Hotel Market Indicating a Need for  230,000 Hotel Rooms
By 2020 To Meet Tourism Demands




United Arab Emirates, 17 April 2011
– Ahead of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference 2011 (AHIC) which commences in Dubai on Saturday 30 April and closes on Monday 2 May, the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA) has demonstrated the strong growth in the Saudi hotel industry achieved in the first decade of the twenty first century and outlines the potential for the next ten years.

Eng. Ahmed Al Issa, General Director for Licensing and Quality, SCTA, a speaker at this year’s event commented: “The future outlook of the Saudi Arabian hotel industry is today more prosperous than ever, with the enhanced competition through more and more international and local companies of a high calibre investing in the sector with improved services and standards.”

AHIC 2011 will feature a dedicated panel discussion on the Kingdom, entitled ‘Kingdom Investment Spotlight’. The focus of which will be to explore the transformation of the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah and the impact this will have on the region’s religious tourism industry and the opportunities for hotel investors and operators. Eng. Ahmed Al Issa will be joined by other key figures, including Yasir Abu Sulayman, Head of Structured Finance, The National Commercial Bank; Muhammad Al Amir, Managing Director, Riyada International Hotels & Resorts Co. Ltd: and Tarik H. Nabulsi, Deputy CEO, Elaf Group. It will be moderated by Chiheb Ben-Mahmoud, Senior Vice President Hotels, Jones Lang LaSalle. (MAKES SENSE TO HAVE THIS SESSION ALL IN ONE PLACE RATHER THAN SPLIT)

However in addition to the opportunity for religious tourism, there is a strong underlying business case for investing in the Kingdom’s hotel industry. The past ten years have seen a 172% growth in the number of hotels in Saudi, as a result of the increasing role that the Kingdom is playing as a regional economic powerhouse. Figures from the SCTA indicate that based on the current economic growth forecasts there is a requirement for an additional 230,176 hotel rooms across the Kingdom ranging from serviced apartments to luxury five star properties – an 83% increase from the requirements of today.

Focusing on the corporate sector and becoming more business friendly are the key factors that will assist Saudi in reaching its targets, as hotels seek to provide a more comprehensive service from Wi-Fi internet to apartments that are available for longer term occupancy.

The hotel industry can also benefit from the Kingdom’s progressive strategy to break into the lucrative MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Exhibitions) market. This strategy is focusing on; the development of the institutional and regulatory framework; product development; human resources development; marketing and research, in order to enable Saudi Arabia to play host to large numbers of events across the whole country which will have a significant positive impact on the hotel sector.

With the Saudi tourism market having such diversified plans, there is huge potential for investment opportunity in the market.  With many of the regions hotel investors, owners, developers and operators meeting at AHIC, it is the ideal platform for people wanting to find out more about upcoming projects directly from the decision makers involved.

Eng. Ahmed Al Issa added: “The hotel industry is, despite issues that may be affecting other sectors, continuously growing, and although sensitive to political and economic factors, is not as fragile as some people may think. Saudi Arabia has seen its hotel industry pick up quickly despite the economic pressures facing the world since 2008, and there is a strong focus on both leisure and business tourism. With such high forecasts for demand over the coming decade, there is significant investment opportunity in the hotel industry which will support the growth in the Kingdom’s wider economy.”

‘Making the Case for Budget and Mid-Market Hotel Real Estate Investment in MENA’ is another panel discussion that includes a specialist from Saudi Arabia, Dr. Bassam Boodai, Managing Director, Jenan Real Estate Co. The panel will be looking at some of the relevant challenges to this sector and how can they be overcome. Dr. Bassam will also be speaking on the growth of the middle income and midscale residential housing developments in the kingdom.

Dr. Bassam said “The importance of The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference lies in the way its discussions tackle the obstacles that faces individuals and organisations focused on the industry. I believe this importance will even increase this year, given the social and economic changes taking place in the MENA region. My participation in AHIC this year will offer me the opportunity to address and discuss the key issues that most of us are concerned about, and highlight the best solutions in dealing with each of them.”

About Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC)
The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference is being organised by Bench Events and MEED, the Middle East business information group, and will run this year from April 30 - May 2 2011 at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai. AHIC’s exclusive Advisory Board this year is made up of 50 hotel stakeholders, key investors and governmental representatives from across the Middle East and Africa. 
AHIC attracts over 600 industry leaders annually from over the 40 countries, including many of the most influential names within Middle East’s hotel investment community as both speakers and attendees. Previous awardees include HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, HRH Prince Al Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding Company, and HE Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan. Details of AHIC can be found on www.arabianconference.com

Platinum sponsors: Carlson, IHG, Jumeirah Group, The Rezidor Hotel Group, Wyndham Worldwide.

Emerald sponsors: Corinthia Hotels, Hilton Worldwide, Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, MAROC, Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Seven Tides.

Gold sponsors: Accor, AECOM, The Address Hotels and Resorts, Anantara, Argentina National Institute of Tourism Promotion, Bell Pottinger,  Deloitte, Golden Tulip MENA, Hamilton Hotel Partners, Hodema, Horwath HTL, Hyatt International, Marriott International, Orient Express Hotels , Rotana, STR Global,  Tourism & Leisure EuroPraxis Consulting, Viceroy Hotel Group, Villeroy and Boch, WATG.

Bench Events
Bench Events has a long track record of delivering, with its partners, the premier hotel investment events in Europe and the Middle East. Bench Events’ Chairman, Jonathan Worsley, is one of the organisers and founders of the highly successful International Hotel Investment Forum now in its fourteenth year (www.berlinconference.com). In 2005, he was responsible for launching the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference in Dubai (www.arabianconference.com); and in 2008 launched the Russia & CIS Hotel Investment Conference (www.russia-cisconference.com).  In 2011 Bench Events adds two events to its portfolio, co-hosts of the Central Asia and Turkey Hotel Investment Conference (www.cathic.com), and launching Hotel Investment Conference Africa, in Morocco (www.africa-conference.com).

Bench Events’ sister company, JW Bench, is a benchmarking company that has successfully launched the Conference Bench and the Productivity Bench. An industry first, the Conference Bench, measures performance data for conference and banqueting space in 10 cities throughout Europe and the Middle East.  www.benchevents.co

About MEED
For 50 years business leaders have been relying on MEED (Middle East Economic Digest) to give them a wealth of factual, unbiased business information that they need to be successful. The MEED brand represents an unrivalled portfolio of high calibre business information products, online services and premier networking events.

MEED Conferences is part of the leading information brand in the Middle East working to provide delegates with the very latest business sensitive information. Over the past 12 years, MEED Conferences has organised events attended by senior government officials and thousands of international business people. The conference series is aimed at companies actively seeking business in the markets of the Middle East. MEED is well established as the source of strategic and accurate regional information placing it in a unique position to bring together high-calibre speakers. www.meed.com

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Contact:

Alisdair Haythornthwaite
+971 56 690 1725
ahaythornthwaite@bell-pottinger.co.uk

Rosemary Youssef
+971 50 354 8805
ryoussef@bell-pottinger.co.uk

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Also See:
Arabian Hotel Investment Conference Speakers Indicate the Hospitality Industry will Continue to Lead Recovery in United Arab Emirates in 2011 / March 2011

Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC 2011) to Feature Hotel Industry Leaders Discussions on Impact of Ongoing Political Change in the MENA Region / March 2011


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