By Andy Sambidge

More than $6bn worth of hotel projects are due for completion in the Middle East by 2013 but greater emphasis is being put on sustainability, an industry expert said on Sunday.

Hotel construction shows no sign of slowing down in the Middle East. (Getty Images)
Hotel construction shows no sign of slowing down in the Middle East. (Getty Images)

Despite the spectre of a double-dip recession in Europe and the US, as well as unrest in the MENA region, hospitality infrastructure and the associated supplies industry were still witnessing steady growth, Frederique Maurell, exhibition director, The Hotel Show, said.

“Despite macro-economic indicators, there is little doubt that the regional hospitality industry is now experiencing solid if unspectacular growth,” she said.

“With over $6 billion worth of hotel projects, mainly in the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, still due for completion by 2013, the industry is looking forward with renewed confidence,” she added.

“We are, quite naturally perhaps, already seeing greater emphasis on sustainability and technology, not only to save energy, enhance efficiency and save money.”

Last month, hotel industry data analysts STR Global said selected markets in the Middle East hospitality sector would see more than half their current supply of hotels coming online in the next few years.

Elizabeth Randall, managing director of STR Global,said the glut of development in the region could create “challenging market conditions” in the short term.

She said Abu Dhabi was likely to report the largest increase in supply (89.4 percent) if every one of the 13,405 additional rooms in its total active pipeline open.

Other markets to expect significant increases in existing supply include Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (77.2 percent with 4,831 rooms in its total active pipeline); Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (50.5 percent with 3,033 rooms); Muscat, Oman (49.5 percent with 1,931 rooms); and Dubai (49.2 percent with 28,474 rooms).

STR Global also said occupancy rates at hotels in the Middle East and North Africa region fell more than 12 percent in February.

According to data compiled by STR Global, the region’s occupancy dropped to 56.7 percent but a large part of this fall was seen in Egypt where rates slumped 79 percent compared to the same period in 2010, due to the political unrest.

Despite the occupancy declines, the region’s average daily rate (ADR) rose 17.1 percent to $188.53, and its revenue per available room (RevPAR) went up 2.3 percent to $106.92.

The Hotel Show will place at the Dubai World Trade Centre on May 17-19, with 400 exhibitors representing 25 countries.