Incentives spur Dubai hotel development

Dubai plans to almost double the number of hotel rooms by 2020 as it expects a surge of visitors to the emirate ahead of that year’s World Expo, according to Helal Saeed Almarri, director-general of the Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing. 

Dubai, which spent more than $110 billion to transform itself into the Middle East’s commercial and entertainment hub, is seeking to attract 20 million tourists annually by the end of the decade. To do that, it needs to raise the number of hotel rooms to as many as 160,000—and international brands are taking advantage of some strong incentives: In January, Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, issued a series of directives that are aimed at boosting and streamlining hotel investment and development in the emirate. Under the new guidelines, the hotel construction pre-approval process period will be reduced to two months from the current three to six months. The directives also call for an additional year of exemption of the 10 per-cent Dubai Municipality fee for any three- and four-star hotels, which begin operating before June 2017.


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As such, there has been a surge of announcements for upcoming hotels and new openings.

Most recently, The Taj Group announced plans to open the Taj Dubai in the fourth quarter of this year. The Taj Dubai, located in the Burj Khalifa downtown area, will be close to the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall and Business Bay. The hotel will have 296 guestrooms (including the Taj Club rooms with some special perks), 20 junior suites and 14 luxury suites.

Langham Hospitality, meanwhile, is also entering the emirate, with plans to open a 323-room resort on the Palm Jumeirah archipelago. This will not only be the first Middle Eastern property for the Hong-Kong based Langham, but also the group's first resort in its global collection. The resort will have 53 one and two-bedroom suites, and all rooms will have outdoor terraces and views facing the sea.

Accor opened a new Sofitel hotel earlier this month: The Sofitel Dubai Downtown is the luxury brand's seventh property in the Middle East and its third in Dubai. The hotel is located on Sheikh Zayed Road and faces Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.

Construction company Arabtec Holding selected Viceroy Hotel Group to operate two properties it is currently developing in Dubai. Located on Sheikh Zayed Road and in Dubai Business Bay, both hotels are set to open in late 2016 and 2017 respectively. They join the previously announced Viceroy Dubai Palm Jumeirah, which is set to open in late 2016 on the trunk of the Palm Jumeirah.

And finally, Warwick International Hotels opened its first hotel in Dubai in late April. The Warwick Hotel Dubai is owned by Damas Real Estate, with whom WIH entered into a Management Agreement last year. The opening of the Hotel marks a major step in the development of WIH, after having established its presence in the Middle East in 2012. This year, WIH continues expanding in the Middle East with the Babylon Warwick Hotel in Irak and one in Qatar, the Warwick Doha Hotel.