By Gavin Gibbon
Newman revealed kingdom could play host to Rove or Vida brands in the future
Emaar Hospitality Group COO Chris Newman has revealed Saudi Arabia is very much part of the company’s future expansion plans.
But he told Arabian Business they would not be rushing to become part of the kingdom’s reinvigorated tourism industry.
He said: “We have Saudi very much on the map. Exciting stuff is happening in Saudi right now. We’re not going to jump on the bandwagon and follow everyone in that direction now. We look more strategically at other areas of the Saudi economy that are growing and seeing how we can put our brands into the right areas.”
In 2019 Saudi Arabia introduced a new visa policy of offering tourist visas to citizens of 49 countries, while massive infrastructure investments to the tune of $1.1 trillion are being rolled out over the next 20 years.
This all includes the new $500bn Neom city on the Red Sea; the $8bn Qiddiya entertainment development, on the outskirts of Riyadh; The Red Sea Development; and Amaala - a luxury tourism destination on the northwestern coast of the kingdom, among many others.
It is hoped this will increase the contribution of the tourism sector from three percent to ten percent by 2030.
Newman said entry into the Saudi market may not necessarily come at the top end of the sector, with its Address brand, but could be better suited to the company’s Vida or Rove brands.
“We may not be rushing into the luxury resort market in the Red Sea for example,” he said. “We’ll maybe start where brands like Rove, where do brands like Vida, the upper up-scale, fit into say secondary cities, or offering alternative options to what, again, like Dubai, is a reverse pyramid of lots of luxury hotels, but not a lot in that upper upscale and mid-market, which I think is where we’ve hit so well in Dubai with what we’ve done.”