By Andy Sambidge
Abu Dhabi-based hotel group says expansion plan is on back of Erbil's massive energy wealth
UAE-based hotel group Cristal has announced it is building three new hotels in the northern Iraqi town of Erbil and will also open a hotel in Saudi Arabia next year as part of its expansion programme.
Chief operating officer Kamal Fakhoury said the new hotel in Saudi Arabia will open in mid-2015 to raise to five the number of hotels operated by the group in the Gulf Kingdom.
He said the group is building three new hotels in Erbil because of its "promising economy given its massive oil and gas wealth".
He said that large oil and gas projects in Iraq's Kurdistan in the next two decades will fuel demand for more hotel projects.
He also said the group is considering having new hotels in Dubai as the emirate is pursuing preparations to host EXPO 2020.
In Africa, Cristal is also building the Cristal Grand hotel in Nigeria, a luxury five-star hotel comprising of 250 rooms. He said another three-star 500-room hotel is being set up in Nigeria.
The Cristal Group currently has 12 pipeline properties for the Middle East region. It operates six hotels: two in Abu Dhabi, two in Iraq, one in Comoros and another in Lebanon.
It has also set a target of 50 properties within five years, essentially doubling its previous goal of 25 hotels.
The Cristal Group was co-founded in Abu Dhabi in 2007 by Kamal Fakhoury and Peter Blackburn.For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.