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Sun 30 Nov 2014 01:22 PM

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Saudi firm to invest $400m in holy cities tourism

DUR Hospitality will also enter into new partnerships to launch 14 new projects across Gulf kingdom

Saudi firm to invest $400m in holy cities tourism
An aerial view shows the Clock Tower and the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Makkah. (AFP/Getty Images)

DUR Hospitality, previously known as Saudi Hotels & Resorts, has revealed it will relaunch the Makarim Hotels chain as a brand specialising in religious tourism in the holy cities of Saudi Arabia.

The company will also enter into new partnerships with international franchises that specialise in hotel management and operations.

A total of SR1.5 billion ($400 million) will be invested in 14 new hospitality projects.

The expansion plan is targeting major cities in Saudi Arabia, as well as select smaller markets such as Jubail and Taif among others.

A spokesperson for the company said: “Ideally [the hotels] will be managed through the operational arm of the DUR, a specific strategic business unit that will be responsible for hotel operations.

“It is now developing a religious brand that will serve for the Holy Cities of Makkah and Al Madinah, and which is also conducting strategic partnerships with international operators represented mainly by strategic franchise agreements to operate outside of the Holy Cities.

“Each developed hotel will be reviewed from the operations side, ensuring maximum benefits, and there might be some hotels that will operated through management contracts if it’s more beneficial to operate it through management contract agreements,” he added.

The company’s currently owns Marriott Riyadh, Marriott Executive Apartments, Riyadh, and Diplomat Courtyard by Marriott, and manages and / or owns eight Makarim hotels across Saudi Arabia.

DUR Hospitality expects to reach an operating owned portfolio of 14 assets by 2018, and to reach 20 assets by 2023, by which time the company expects new hotel and residential projects to have tripled its revenues.

The publicly-listed company has been trading on the Saudi stock market since 1976. It recently began trading under the name DUR Hospitality, having previously been called Saudi Hotels and Resorts.

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