UAE's Rotana eyes expansion in Saudi Arabia, Africa

Three Rotana hotels are set to open in Saudi Arabia this year, with another three in the pipeline
UAE's Rotana eyes expansion in Saudi Arabia, Africa
Rotana CEO Omar Kaddouri
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Sun 22 Apr 2018 02:33 PM

UAE-based Rotana considers Africa one of its main priority target markets outside the emirates, alongside Saudi Arabia, according to Rotana CEO Omar Kaddouri.

Speaking to Arabian Business at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, Kaddouri noted that the company is set to open up its first property in East Africa, the five-star Johari Rotana in the Tanzanian capital of Dar Es Salaam in several weeks.

According to Kaddouri, the hotel marks the latest stage of a significant expansion for Rotana in Sub-Saharan Africa, following a previous opening in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, in late 2016.

“Africa for us is just like Pandora’s Box,” he said. “We’ve signed a hotels in Lagos [Nigeria], we’ve signed hotels in Luanda, Angola, and we’re looking at a couple of other opportunities in other cities of Tanzania.

“Since we have a hotel opening up there imminently, we’ve made some contacts,” he added. “When people see what we’re doing in Dar, I’m sure it’s going to open up some doors for us....we want to focus on Africa, because there’s need there. We can do a lot to enhance the hospitality platform.”

Of 14 new Rotana hotels opening in 2018, three are in Saudi Arabia, a country in which Kaddouri said he still sees ample opportunity for growth as the country continues to diversify and push for more tourists.

'Huge potential'

Among the hotels due to open this year are the 156-room Centro Olaya in Riyadh, the 247-room Centro Corniche in Al Khobar, and the 189-room Centro Salama in Jeddah.

Currently, Rotana operates four hotels in the kingdom in Riyadh, Jeddah and Makkah. In addition to there three opening this year three hotels are in the pipeline.

“Saudi Arabia has huge potential. By the end of this year, we’ll have seven operating hotels in Saudi Arabia, which is something we were only dreaming of five or six years ago,” he said.  “There is a lot of opportunity.”

Additionally, Kaddouri said that Rotana is “looking into” the possibility of expanding into other markets, such as Central Asian countries like Kazakhstan or even into the Balkans.

“We are looking into it. We’ve been there a couple of times last year and we’ve seen some opportunities,” he said, “and the Balkans is very popular with people from this region. There could be something coming there soon.”

Rotana currently operates 16,161 keys across its 60 hotels in 23 cities. By 2020, Rotana plans to operate 100 hotels around the world, with 48 currently in various stages of development.

“We’re very much on track,” Kaddouri said.

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