Included in this roundup of news from the MEA region: Qatar downgraded; July data; hajj travel; and more.
Each week, Hotel News Now features a news roundup from a different global region. Today’s compilation focuses on Middle East/Africa.
Qatar’s credit takes a hit
The Wall Street Journal reports that Fitch Ratings has downgraded Qatar’s debt amid worries about a blockade put together by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.
Fitch moved the country’s rating from AA to AA-, while pointing to the fact little progress has been made in international negotiations to end the economic standoff.
The Journal reports that the group of countries, led by Saudi Arabia, are upset about Qatar “promoting extremist groups and meddling in their domestic affairs,” which Qatar says is untrue.
Metrics down in Middle East, up in Africa for July
The latest data from Hotel News Now’s parent company STR shows the Middle East and Africa trending in two different directions in year-over-year comparisons for the month of July, with Middle Eastern performance down and Africa up.
In the Middle East, occupancy was down 2.8% to 56.1%, while average daily rate fell 16.1% to $134, and revenue per available room was down a combined 18.4% to $75.20. African hoteliers saw a 6.9% jump in occupancy to 60.7%, with ADR up 9.3% to $97.81, and RevPAR up 16.8% to $59.34.
In terms of the pipeline for the month, the Middle East had 95,089 rooms under construction in 301 projects, marking an increase of 14.3% year over year. For Africa, 28,500 rooms were in construction in 163 projects, down 4.8%.
Travelers amass in Mecca for hajj
The annual pilgrimage to the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca is underway with more than 1.7 million Muslims from around the world in the city, according to Bloomberg, and the Saudi Arabian government estimating roughly 2 million total for the event. That would make the largest pilgrimage on record.
But Bloomberg writes some countries, like Syria and Iran, put up obstacles and restrictions on traveling to Mecca based on political tensions between those countries and Saudi Arabia.
Deals and development
- The 95-key ibis Styles Manama Diplomatic Area opened in Bahrain.
- Hilton signed an agreement to manage its first DoubleTree property in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the 114-room DoubleTree by Hilton Jeddah Al Salaman District.
- The 260-room Marina Plaza Hotel by Swiss-Belhotel opened in Aqaba, Jordan.
- InterContinental Hotels Group signed a new property in Dubai, United Arab Emirates—the 290-room Crowne Plaza Dubai Business Bay, opening in 2019.
- Two Radisson Blu properties opened in Saudi Arabia—the 100-room Radisson Blu Hotel, Buraidah and the 142-room Radisson Blu Hotel, Jeddah Al Salam.
- Millennium Hotels & Resorts will manage the 1,400-room Makkah Millennium Biltmore Hotel and Towers after it is reflagged at the start of September.
Compiled by Sean McCracken.