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Leisure & Hospitality

Leisure and hospitality news from the Middle East. All the important stories, exclusive interviews, plus authoritative opinion and analysis

Heidi Kunkel, senior VP at Hyatt, says high-end customers are less sensitive to price increases Video length: 4:19

GCC hoteliers unfazed by rising costs

As global inflationary pressures continue to vex businesses, hospitality chains are faced with a choice: increase room rates or sacrifice profit margins.  GCC hoteliers seem to be opting for squeezing profit margins rather than increase room rates, even as geopolitical tensions and supply chain challenges threaten to push up costs.  Average daily rates (ADR) in […]

Pilgrims Saudi Malaysia

Pilgrim air terminal planned for Kuala Lumpur airport

Saudi Arabia and Malaysia are planning to build a pilgrimage air terminal in Kuala Lumpur to increase tourism numbers in both countries. Malaysia’s transport minister Anthony Loke told an aviation industry forum in Riyadh that it was looking with the Saudi Arabian government into “building and establishing a Hajj and Umrah hub” in Kuala Lumpur […]

One of the four restaurants in the Palazzo Versace Dubai hotel, which is listed on the Emirates Auction website

Palazzo Versace hotel sale aims to ride Dubai tourism wave

Owners of Dubai’s ultra-luxurious Palazzo Versace hotel are looking to capitalise on the emirate’s tourism boom before it peaks, offering it for sale at nearly AED1.4 billion ($380 million). A source familiar with the asset told AGBI the hotel is being “readvertised” as it has not found a buyer willing to meet its price tag […]

Mark Foster, who played professional rugby for Gloucester and now heads LIV Golf, says the sport is ripe for investment

LIV Golf chief says rugby next in line for Gulf funds

Talks are taking place with sovereign wealth funds and private equity entities about potential Gulf investment in rugby, according to Mark Foster, senior vice president of finance operations at Saudi-backed LIV Golf Investments. Foster, a former Gloucester and Exeter Chiefs professional rugby player, told The Good the Bad & the Rugby podcast that discussions have […]

Dubai mall Lamcy Plaza

Fire-hit Dubai shopping mall fails to attract auction bids

A Dubai shopping mall closed since a fire in 2017 has failed to attract interest from potential buyers after being put up for auction. The Lamcy Plaza mall went on auction earlier this month with a starting bid of AED200 million ($54 million), but received no offers. The five-storey neighbourhood mall, which opened in 1997, […]

Cenomi's Makkah Mall in Saudi Arabia. The company wants to challenge Dubai for the title of top retail location in the Gulf

Record footfall at Saudi Arabia’s largest mall operator

Cenomi Centers, Saudi Arabia’s biggest mall operator, said on Thursday it had seen record footfall of 31.7 million customer visits in the first quarter of 2024, highlighting the continued strength of the Saudi retail sector.  Net profit at the company, which runs 21 malls, was down 53 percent at SAR180.5 million ($48 million) after the […]

An extension of Diriyah's Bujairi Terrace, a popular nightspot, will open in November

Diriyah giga-project to open first hotel in November

Diriyah, one of Saudi Arabia’s leading giga-projects, will finally open its first hotel in November along with other attractions and sites, its CEO said this week.  “This November we’ll open another few kilometres of parks, we’ll open our first Bab Samhan hotel, we’ll open our first museum which is the Diriyah Art Futures Museum, we’ll […]

King Abdulaziz International Airport: the number of international flights increased but there were less than 27.4 million international visitors to the kingdom last year

Passenger numbers rise 26% in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia said this week that its total number of air passengers rose 26 percent to 112 million in 2023. This includes a 46 percent rise in the total number of international travellers to 61 million.  The number means the kingdom’s airports are approaching full capacity, which is 116 million passengers a year, including 45 […]

Tourists visit the tombs of the Nabatean civilisation in AlUla. Saudi Arabia's goal is for tourism to make up 10 percent of GDP by 2030

Affluent tourists around the globe on Saudi Arabia’s radar

Saudi Arabia will invest more than $800 billion in its main giga-projects by the next decade as part of a tourism expansion strategy focused on affluent tourists in China, India and Europe.  The kingdom’s tourism minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb, speaking at the Qatar Investment Forum, said: “We’re building and investing in major destinations like Neom, Red […]

Almost all of Lebanon's visitors in the first quarter came from the Lebanese diaspora

Tourist numbers drop as Western visitors avoid Lebanon

Inbound tourism to Lebanon fell 13.5 percent year on year in the first three months of 2024, mainly as a result of Western tourists staying away, data released by the country’s Ministry of Tourism shows. It is the latest indication of damage to Lebanon’s post-crisis economy caused by the ongoing border conflict between Hezbollah and […]

Tourists photograph the Abu Dhabi skyline. Travel funding is small compared to how much tourism contributes to the economy

Travel startups seen as ‘high risk’ by VC investors

The co-founder and CEO of Dharma, an Abu Dhabi business travel management platform, has claimed the tourism sector isn’t seen as attractive enough for investors.  Dharma, which was one of the first startups accepted into Abu Dhabi’s Hub71 incubation programme, closed a $4.7 million Series A funding round last year. “I think for venture capital […]

The Salalah festival in Oman: the sultanate’s tourism sector is likely to contribute more than $8.6bn to GDP this year

Club Med resort tipped to help Oman hit tourism targets

Tourist arrivals in Oman are forecast to nearly double over the next four years, boosted by developments such as the region’s first Club Med resort. Analysts at BMI expect visitor numbers to rise by a quarter to 5.3 million this year – and reach nearly 11 million by 2028. The sultanate’s tourism sector is likely […]

Saudi Rotana Dakar Senegal

Rotana reveals plans to reflag hotels in Saudi Arabia

Rotana, the Abu Dhabi-based hospitality company, is looking at aggressive expansion in Saudi Arabia, including taking over already operational hotels, its chief executive has revealed to AGBI. At this month’s Arabian Travel Market, Rotana outlined plans to launch nine new properties in Saudi Arabia within four years, aiming to double its rooms to more than […]

ADIA bid Haldiram

ADIA consortium bids for stake in India’s largest snack maker

A consortium including Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) has submitted a bid to acquire a controlling stake in the snacks business of India’s Haldiram, according to a media report. The consortium, which also include US-based alternative asset manager Blackstone and GIC of Singapore, aims to secure 75 percent of the Indian company’s snacks unit, valuing it […]

Profit at Spinneys rose 13 percent in the first quarter

Dubai’s Spinneys plans Saudi entry as profit rises 13%

First quarter 2024 net profit at Spinneys rose 13 percent year on year to AED75 million ($20.4 million) as it targets opening its first stores in Saudi Arabia. Revenue grew by 11 percent annually to AED815 million over the period, driven by higher retail revenue, the supermarket operator said in its first quarterly results after listing […]

The five-star Barceló Al Jaddaf in Dubai, formerly Occidental Al Jaddaf, will open in the fourth quarter of 2024

Spain’s Barceló expands reach in Middle East and Turkey

Spain’s Barceló Hotel Group is intensifying its focus on the Middle East, Africa and Turkey this year with plans to invest more than $400 million as part of its global expansion strategy. The move includes opening hotels in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Turkey. The company will expand its portfolio in the Middle East by […]

Hajj pilgrims arrive at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah

Saudia allocates 1.2m seats for Hajj pilgrims  

Saudia, the national flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, has allocated more than 1.2 million seats for the 2024 Hajj Season across its fleet of over 150 aircraft. The operational period for the carrier during this year’s Hajj will span 74 days, starting from May 9, encompassing both inbound and outbound stages. Saudia Group, one of […]

Jaumur Neom resort gulf of Aqaba

Neom announces superyacht resort on Gulf of Aqaba

Plans to build a high-end resort town on the Gulf of Aqaba aimed at the luxury yacht community have been announced by Neom, despite rising doubts about Saudi Arabia’s ability to maintain funding lines for the country’s giga-projects.  The new project, Jaumur, was described by Neom as an “exclusive residential community set around an inspiring […]

A Diwali celebration held during Expo 2020 in Dubai. GCC officials want to work together to prevent event clashes

Tourism chiefs call for GCC-wide events calendar

Gulf Cooperation Council nations should co-ordinate their event schedules to avoid overlaps and entice tourists to make multiple stops in the region, officials have said at the Arabian Travel Market conference. The six GCC governments – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – are exploring ways to co-operate on tourism, including a […]

Family boards an aeroplane. There are 213 airlines operating in the Middle East, says the OAG report

Qatar dazzles as Middle East aviation picks up pace

The Middle East’s aviation sector is growing at twice the global rate and is expected to offer 257 million passenger seats this year, according to a new report. Not so long ago major airlines viewed the Middle East as a place to get cheap fuel on their way from Europe to South East Asia. Now […]