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Sept. 13--DUBAI -- Optimism runs high among Middle East hospitality operators with 583 hotel projects under contract as of August, global hotel data STR said in its latest Pipeline Report.

STR defines hotels under contract as projects in the construction, final planning and planning stages but including projects in the unconfirmed stage.

The 583 hotel projects under contract represent a 5.4 percent increase from a year ago, with 309 hotels now under construction involving 98,027 rooms. The number of rooms was 17.2 percent higher in year-over-year comparison.

Among the Middle East countries, Saudi Arabia had the most number of rooms in construction at 40,020 involving 89 projects; the UAE with 35,050 rooms in 121 projects and Qatar with 9,627 rooms in 41 projects.

JLL earlier said among the hotel properties under construction in Saudi Arabia include the Double Tree by Hilton in Makkah involving 668 keys; the Staybridge Suites Her'a Dyafa Center in Jeddah with 200 keys; the Movenpick Hotel & Apartments Al Thalia Jeddah with 164 rooms; the Somerset Corniche in Jeddah with 135 rooms and the Hyatt House Sari Street also in Jeddah with 104 rooms.

Meanwhile, STR said that 208 hotel projects were under contract in Africa, with 28,620 rooms from 160 hotels now under construction as of August, 5.6 percent lower compared with the previous year.

Among the African countries that reported more than 4,000 rooms under construction are Angola with 4,451 rooms (32 projects) and Egypt with 4,169 rooms from 12 projects.

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