AHIC 2014 to be Held May 4-5, 2014 in Dubai

Dubai, UAE 9 April 2014: The Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC 2014) will be presenting the Leadership Award this year to HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, President and Chairman of the Board of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), in recognition of his vibrant role in developing the hospitality sector in Saudi Arabia.

In his role as SCTA President and Chairman, HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman has helped in driving the development of the hotel industry in Saudi Arabia with key initiatives that respond to the rowing domestic demand on hospitality. A strong corporate sector along to the continued expansion of religious tourism, have been fuelling the growth in this sector in the Kingdom.

The government's efforts to drive tourism in Saudi have been demonstrated in the recent announcements made by SCTA. These include the plans to expand five of its domestic airports to raise capacity, opening up the Kingdom's domestic aviation sector to more airlines, and the latest visa scheme, which allows pilgrims to tour the Kingdom with a month's extension on their Umrah visas.

All these initiatives are shaping the growth of hotels across the Kingdom, where the country had a total of 1,251 hotels and 2,582 furnished apartments in 2013, with a number of international names entering the market.

Chris Nader, Vice President of Development in Shaza Hotels, who are one of the key participants at AHIC this year, commented:

"Shaza's interest in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia lies in the essence of the brand itself. Whilst other hotel brands must adapt their offer to meet the requirements of the country, Shaza is the only luxury brand to naturally embrace its values. The understanding of the market and respect if its culture, is at the core of who we are."

He added: "We opened our first hotel in Al Madinah Al Munawarah towards the end of 2010 we have been actively searching to sign a second hotel south of the Masjid in order to solidify our presence in the Holy city. Last year, we have entered into a management agreement with the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry to manage a unique 150 keys hotel on the Chamber's premises. We are also eager to complete the "Golden Triangle" of the Hajj & Umrah industry, linking Makkah, Madina and Jeddah, where signing a hotel in Makkah has been our top priority."

AHIC 2014 has also dedicated a number of its sessions this year to discuss key factors behind the growing hotel industry in Saudi Arabia.

Chiheb Ben Mahmoud, Executive Vice President and Head of Hotels and Hospitality Group for Middle East and Africa in Jones Lang LaSalle, who is participating in the "Saudi Symposium at AHIC 2014", said:

"Saudi Arabia is the main hotel and travel market in the region, in terms of size and depth, this includes; resorts, motels, heritage lodging and city hotels. While the overall Saudi market visibility is sometimes overshadowed by the activity in the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah, the Saudi hotel investment market is much wider and undergoing historical shifts notably in Riyadh and in some regional cities. Expected hotel supply growth rate in Riyadh is among the highest in the world.

Saudi travellers can make the sun shine on more than one tourism destination in the Middle East region (and beyond), Saudi's domestic tourism is an important driving force and yields even more potential."

According to the SCTA figures, the Saudi market currently offers hospitality (Hotels and Serviced Apartments) capacity exceeding 300,000 hotel rooms, which could accommodate more than 45 Million arrivals per year, across all categories and sub-destinations. SCTA has been moving swiftly and efficiently in addressing all the hurdles towards structuring the hospitality and tourism regulatory infrastructure and otherwise.

About AHIC 2014

AHIC 2014, which is organised by MEED and Bench Events, will take place at the Madinat Jumeirah from 4-5 May 2014. The conference will include key participants such as: Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Jumeirah Group, King Abdullah Economic City, Accor, Al Habtoor Hotels Group, Hilton Worldwide, Marriot International, Moroccan Agency for Tourism Development - SMIT, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Wyndham Hotel Group, Aecom, Argentina National Institute of Tourism Promotion, Colliers International, Drake and Scull International, FRHI Hotels and Resorts, Golden Tulip Hotels Suits and Resorts, Hotel Partners Africa, HVS, JA Resorts & Hotels, MeliĆ” Hotels International, Premier Inn, Roya International, Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA), Shaza Hotels, STR Global, Worldhotels, ESPA International, Faithful + Gould, Hodema, Kenya Tourism Development Corporation, Six Senses Spa, and Sneider Electric.

About Bench Events

Bench Events has a long track record in hosting 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 thirteenth year (www.berlinconference.com). In 2005, he was responsible for launching the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference in Dubai (www.arabianconference.com); in 2008 launched the Russia & CIS Hotel Investment Conference (www.russia-cisconference.com) and in 2011 will premier the Central Asia and Turkey Hotel Investment Conference (www.cathic.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.com

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 caliber 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-caliber speakers. www.meed.com

Contact: Rosemary Youssef

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

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