UAE continues luxury resort push

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has typically hosted the very grandest of hotel projects over recent years, and this trend shows no signs of abating.

While tourist magnet Dubai has often taken the headlines with novel resort concepts, we shouldn’t forget smaller Emirates like Ras Al Khaimah, which is seeking a bigger slice of the pie with a plan to attract another 20,000 hotel keys to the region in the next few years.

Quarter of a million keys

The tourism industry is one of the biggest non-oil revenue sources in the Middle Eastern nation, and its hotel provision reflects this. As at the end of September 2022, benchmarking company STR calculated that the UAE had more than 202,000 existing rooms with an active pipeline of 48,910 rooms. This should create a combined total of almost 251,000 keys by 2030.

In the high end of the hotel sector, UAE is set to welcome at least 130 premium sites totalling nearly 34,000 rooms over the coming years, according to THP data.

Luxury leanings

The country’s reputation for luxury remains undimmed as far as forthcoming hotels go, with 64% of the high end pipeline in the five star category, equating to 83 sites, while the remaining 36%/47 projects are upscale four star builds.

There’s a strong trend towards more immediate deliveries, with 68 properties due to complete this year, 52% of the current premium pipeline. Rates will greatly dip looking further ahead, with 27 sites scheduled to open in 2024, then just seven and five in 2025 and 2026, respectively. The remaining 23 projects have either not yet been designated a delivery date or will open beyond 2026.

Dubai dominance

It looks like Dubai will maintain its place at the top of the tree as far as high end deliveries go, with 81 projects heading to the Emirate in the next few years – 62% of the pipeline.

Trailing far behind is Sharjah on 14, Ras Al Khaimah on 13 and Abu Dhabi with 10.

Prominent projects

One major Dubai development to keep an eye on is The Heart of Europe, a self-sufficient upscale resort set amongst the World Islands, 6 km offshore. Developed by Kleindienst Group​, this new precinct will encompass 16 hotels and resorts inspired by major European cities. These include the 250-room Venice Hotel, which will offer seven-star accommodation and dining experiences both above and below the water when it opens in Q1 2024.

Another ‘world in a city’ destination in Dubai is Falconcity of Wonders, which will soon feature SAAM Vega, a pyramid-shaped hotel apartment complex which will deliver 450 keys in Q3 2023.

Elsewhere in the UAE, the Hard Rock Hotels brand is coming to Abu Dhabi in Q3 2023 with a 37 storey skyscraper comprising 378 rooms. Having faced extensive delays, the project finally got underway again towards the end of last year, and Hard Rock Hotel Abu Dhabi will feature an assortment of signature restaurants, entertainment and meeting facilities, including a Hard Rock Cafe and a sky bar with swimming pool.