With new deals, Marriott looks to expand in Middle East, Africa

Marriott International is looking to grow its presence within the Middle East and Africa region, as president and CEO Arne Sorenson said while visiting Dubai recently for both the Arabian Travel Market and the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference. Sorenson outlined regional growth plans that aim to grow the company’s MEA portfolio to over 240 properties by 2020, with plans to add roughly 80 properties and almost 16,500 rooms. At present, the hotel company operates or franchises 164 properties in the MEA region, across nine brands in 17 countries.

During his time at ATM, Sorenson, along with Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Chairman of ASQ Hotels, also announced the signing of the company’s newest property, in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, the Ras Al Khaimah Marriott Resort. Due to open by 2019, the 300-room beach-front Marriott Hotel will be the first Marriott Hotels branded property in the emirate, reinforcing the company’s plan to increase its UAE footprint to 25 properties by 2020.

“The Middle East and Africa region offers a tremendous opportunity for Marriott International,” said Sorenson. “The region will play a large part in helping us achieve both our short-term and long-term targets. By the end of this year we should surpass 1 million rooms open or in development worldwide, with new hotels expected to create 150,000 new hotel jobs as they open.”

Marriott International’s MEA growth over the next few years should see, among other key areas, increases in the priority markets of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia with almost half of the properties set to open, located in these two countries. Within KSA, the hotel company expects to almost triple the size of its operations with the addition of more than 4,000 rooms across 20 hotels by 2020, building upon its current 1,800 rooms across eight properties.

Marriott International has also outlined its region-wide plan to strengthen the presence of its brand portfolio, particularly the Marriott Hotels brand. This year alone, the MEA region will see more Marriott Hotels opening than any other Marriott International brand and along with it, the introduction of the brand into three new MEA destinations including Fez, Morocco, where a 224-room property is set to open, and Constantine, Algeria, where a 244-room Marriott Hotel is opening. Rounding out the three new properties, the opening of the 426-room Marriott Hotel in Makkah in Saudi Arabia will also mark a significant milestone for the brand as its first-ever property in a holy city. By 2020, the brand should see 20 Marriott Hotels open across the region.

Supporting this growth, Marriott International is projecting to increase its MEA base of talent to 21,000 Associates by 2018.

Along with key growth within the UAE and KSA and following last year’s acquisition of Protea Hospitality, Africa will also remain a key priority for the company with openings set to take place in Algeria, Morocco, Ghana, Ethiopia and Rwanda in 2015. Four new Protea properties are also expected to open in Cape Town, South Africa this year. Within Egypt, the company recently signed the Mena House and the opening of The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo.