Marriott International is set to more than double its 23-hotel portfolio in Saudi Arabia, its second-largest market in the Middle East, with 29 new hotels and 5,700 guestrooms in line with Saudi Vision 2030.
The Saudi Vision 2030 is an urban development initiative launched by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to reduce the country's dependence on oil and modernize the economy and society. This initiative includes a focus on investment in industries, particularly in tourism and hospitality.
Marriott has been operating in Saudi Arabia for more than four decades and the hotel group plans to bring the Autograph Collection, Westin and Element brands to the country within the next few years. Meanwhile, Marriott will consolidate its existing portfolio of brands in Saudi Arabia.
Marriott also plans to enter Unaizah, King Abdullah Economic City, Half Moon Bay, Yanbu and Jubail in the next few years. The company’s largest hotel in the country—the 1,172-room Four Points by Sheraton Makkah Al Naseem—is set to open in 2018.
Marriott recently launched its Tahseen hospitality management development program in partnership with Cornell University to train Saudi students in the hospitality industry. A total of 32 students were accepted in the program's initial run in September 2017. The students learn how to run a hotel business to gain managerial opportunities. They train in all departments for six months before specializing in one department for six to 12 months.
Marriott International has a portfolio of 23 operating hotels and more than 6,700 guestrooms in Saudi Arabia. The company's hotels are in nine cities across the country. Riyadh continues to be Marriott's largest market in Saudi Arabia with eight operating hotels and another 15 in the pipeline.