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Global hotel brands rush to be part of Saudi tourism push

Diriyah Saudi Supplied
The development of Diriyah, the birthplace of Saudi Arabia, includes the addition of 16 new global hotel brands to cater for tourists
  • 16 more global hotel brands head for the kingdom
  • Diriyah attractions include Unesco World Heritage Site
  • Luxury names range from Armani to Ritz-Carlton
  • Tourism aims to account for 100m annual visits by 2030

International hotel brands are flooding into Saudi Arabia as the transformation of Diriyah, the birthplace of Saudi Arabia, gathers pace.

Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), responsible for the Diriyah project, has announced the addition of 16 new global hotel brands to its hospitality portfolio. 

This brings the total of hotel management agreements to 32, with the first hotel planned to open in 2023.

“We are excited to further Diriyah’s position as Saudi Arabia’s historical and cultural epicentre by bringing international hoteliers to operate within Diriyah,” Jerry Inzerillo, group CEO, said.

“The opening of these hotels signifies our ongoing promise to transform Diriyah into one of the greatest gathering places in the world.”

Diriyah has also announced the opening of two of its most significant locations – At-Turaif, the Unesco World Heritage Site, and Bujairi Terrace, a premium dining destination.

The 16 brands slated to open will be situated across two of DGDA’s masterplan areas: Diriyah and Wadi Safar.

Luxury brands include Thai-rooted Anantara, part of Minor Hotels, Corinthia Hotels, Marriott International’s Edition Hotels, Taj Hotels, The Langham and Waldorf Astoria.

Diriyah will also feature 1 Hotels, Pendry Hotels & Resorts, Treehouse Hotel, Hyatt Place, Marriott International’s Moxy Hotels, Radisson Red, Faena Hotel, Montage Hotels & Resorts, The Chedi and the Well Health Retreat.

Diriyah, established in 1446, is located within Riyadh province and is being developed over 14 sq km. On completion, it will be home to 100,000 residents, workers, students and visitors.

Previously announced hotel management agreements range from Address Hotels + Resorts to Raffles Hotels & Resorts.

The announcement comes as the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC) described Saudi Arabia’s ambition to become one of the top five destinations in the world in the next decade as “unparalleled”. 

Arnold Donald, chair, WTTC and vice chair of Carnival Corporation, said at the WTTC Summit in Riyadh: “Over the past three years it has been a great privilege to see the progress made here with our own eyes.”

Diriyah Saudi
A render of one of the luxury hotels opening in Diriyah Gate, Saudi Arabia

Giga projects valued at over $1.1 trillion are under way in the kingdom. This includes more than 555,000 residential units, more than 275,000 hotel keys, in excess of 4.3 million sq m of retail space and over 6.1 million sq m of new office space expected by 2030, prompting Knight Frank to describe the kingdom as “the largest construction site the world has ever known”.

On Tuesday, the Saudi Entertainment Ventures (Seven), wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund, also announced its intention to invest more than $13 billion to establish 21 full-service entertainment destinations in 14 cities.

Construction of the first $800 million project in the Al Hamza district of Riyadh has begun and includes an indoor viewing wheel, an indoor surfing area, bowling alleys, an indoor air-flying area, electric karting tracks, as well as cinemas, restaurants, cafes and branded retail stores.

Upcoming projects will be located in Riyadh, Kharj, Makkah, Jeddah, Taif, Dammam, Khobar, Al Ahsa, Madinah, Yanbu, Abha, Jazan, Buraidah and Tabuk.

Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia unveiled a plan for King Salman International Airport, a major transport hub expected to span 57 sq km and boost annual passenger numbers from the current 29 million to 120 million by 2030. 

Under the Saudi Vision strategy, the contribution of the tourism sector to the gross domestic product aims to increase to more than 10 percent while providing 1 million additional job opportunities and attracting 100 million annual visits by 2030.

Separately, Saudi’s Tourism Development Fund, which entered into a tripartite partnership with Ennismore and Al Rajhi Capital last year, said it has identified multiple sites to develop “exciting lifestyle developments” across the kingdom, including urban beachfront sites.

The projects to be developed are part of the newly formed $400 million Lifestyle Hospitality Fund. The fund will facilitate development of lifestyle hotels across 10 cities.

TDF will be the anchor investor in the investment fund, while Ennismore will lead on the operation of assets post completion under the umbrella of its lifestyle brands and Al Rajhi Capital will manage the development fund and attract investments.

Ennismore’s brands include 25hours Hotels, Mama Shelter, Mondrian, The Hoxton and Tribe.

On Monday, it was also announced that TDF and Hilton have signed a cooperation agreement to develop a number of hospitality facilities as well as tourist and entertainment attractions including water parks, entertainment venues, live entertainment shows, restaurants and cafes. 

Four Seasons
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts are among the global brands opening in Diriyah Gate

Previously announced hotel management agreements 

  • Address Hotels + Resorts
  • Armani Hotels & Resorts
  • Baccarat Hotels & Resorts
  • Campbell Gray Hotels
  • Capella Hotels and Resorts
  • Fauchon L’Hotel
  • Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
  • LXR Hotels & Resorts
  • Orient Express Hotels
  • Oberoi Hotels & Resorts
  • Park Hyatt Hotels
  • Raffles Hotels & Resorts
  • Rosewood Hotels & Resorts
  • Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas
  • The Luxury Collection Hotels & Resorts
  • The Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Resorts.