Marriott to focus on AI and sustainability

At a special press briefing by Sandeep Walia – COO Middle East of Marriott International shared the latest research on the two big markets UAE and Saudi Arabia with their latest focus on the key trends for the region. According to the research, 50% of the participants shared that they have used AI in one form or the other over their vacation. 70% said they will use it going forward. Walia reiterated, “AI will be a key focus for us too going forward.. 83% of UAE said they are ready to pay more to go to a hotel or destination that is sustainable. 78% of Saudi said the same. Sustainability is engraved today in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.”

In terms of the market, Walia shared that “the Middle East, Egypt and Turkey we have 233 hotels open and about 130 projects in different phases that’s 50% plus growth. Exciting times in terms of growth in the region. Reflecting on the past year he shared,

“2023 has been a great year of openings and signings for us – so we had 10 openings – they were very key strategic openings for us. One I want to certainly  call out is Saudi, so we have been announcing a lot of hotels over the last few years but last year was the turning point where all these openings we announced the projects getting into reality and opening. The first was St.Regis in Riyadh, which was the first one to enter the market. We opened the Aloft in Muscat which was the first to get into Oman. We opened the Marriott Executive Apartments in Kuwait and the list continues, so we had 10 openings last year but we also had 20 signings so the growth trend is something we are excited about. We signed multiple in different Giga Projects in Saudi. We have 77 hotels in UAE and we are at a great start in 2024 with 3 conversions – two autograph and one JW with ADNH which got converted so with that we now have 77 and about 28 in projects. When we look at one of the biggest markets is of course Saudi we have 38 opened hotels and about 46 projects. The third would be to highlight would be Turkey. We have about 50 hotels already opened, 40 in the pipeline and more to go, we are looking at that magical number of 100. A lot of openings, a lot of conversions within the year that’s been very good for us. One more trend we continue to see, is that the branded residences that are coming into the market. Certainly UAE taking the lead and within UAE its Dubai. We are starting to see this growing in other markets we have signed up in Egypt and more coming in.”