Why Expo 2020 is an impetus for Rezidor's expansion in the UAE


Four years from now, Dubai will host the next World Expo—the first time an Expo has been held in the Middle East. Between October 2020 and April 2021, more than 25 million visitors are expected to attend Expo 2020, 70 percent of which will be from outside the UAE—the largest number of international visitors in Expo history. 

The Tourism Vision for 2020, a plan to help develop Dubai’s tourism industry with the ultimate goal of getting 20 million visitors to visit the Emirate each year by 2020, was approved three years ago, and has helped boost infrastructure and hotel development since then. Dubai announced initiatives for developers to open hotels in the Emirate, prompting a rush to secure permits. Ever since, global brands have been vying for top spots throughout Dubai, and for the United Arab Emirates as a whole. 

This week, Rezidor Hotel Group, part of the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, signed deals for three new properties in the UAE—all of which are scheduled to open well in advance of the Expo.

Three New Hotels 

The Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Waterfront and the Park Inn by Radisson Resort Ras Al Khaimah Marjan Island will open in the second quarter of 2017. The Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Canal View, meanwhile, will open its doors in early 2018. The hotels are being developed through partnerships with Nash’at Farhan Awad Sahawneh, who owns the Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Waterfront and the Radisson Blu Hotel Dubai Canal View, and Stallion Properties FZ-LLC, which owns the Park Inn by Radisson.

“With these three new signings, we are adding over 1,000 rooms to our portfolio in the UAE and further improving our brand awareness in the country,” said Elie Younes, EVP & CDO of The Rezidor Hotel Group.

“The UAE is a key strategic market for us,” Wolfgang M. Neumann, president & CEO of Rezidor, said in a statement. “Dubai, the world’s fourth most visited city in 2015 with 14.2 million overnight visitors, has been on an unprecedented growth journey for the last decade.”  

The Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Waterfront is located in the largest waterfront development in the world within Business Bay known as Dubai Water Canal, the new business district of Dubai. The property will have 432 rooms. Nearby, the Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Canal View will have 188 rooms and 16 suites.

Meanwhile, in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, Rezidor will open its first Park Inn by Radisson Resort on Ras Al Khaimah Marjan Island. The two-building resort will have 408 rooms. 

Rezidor in the UAE

Rezidor already has an established presence in the UAE, and has announced several new developments this year alone. In January, the company announced the Radisson Blu Residence Al Sufouh for Dubai as part of a partnership with Al Reem Real Estate Development. The property, with 264 serviced apartments, is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2017.

In March, the company announced plans to bring the Radisson Red brand to Dubai. The hotel is being launched in partnership with the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, a government entity focused on "innovation, technology and entrepreneurship." Located in Dubai’s Silicon Oasis, a development designed to  promote technology-based industries, the 171-room Radisson Red Dubai Silicon Oasis is expected to open in Q3 2018.

The announcements come on the heels of a mixed first half of the year for Rezidor. The company signed more than 2,500 rooms during the second quarter of 2016 and opened more than 1,400 rooms, for a total of 80,000 rooms open. But Rezidor also reported a decline in half-year revenue and EBITDA, citing “the challenging external environment.” 

“Despite the challenging external environment in some EMEA destinations, Rezidor expanded the EBITDA margin by 1.3 percentage points to 14 percent versus last year and continued to gain market share," Neumann said. "Like-for-like [RevPAR] increased by 4 percent and good flow-through was achieved, especially in the leased portfolio.