Is Gulf hospitality the tonic our sector has been searching for?

As GCC countries push ahead with economic diversification efforts, the region’s busy hospitality-development market is providing a much-needed boost for construction firms

COMMENT, Business, GCC hospitality, Gulf hospitality, Hospitality-development market, Hotels

Spurred on by the post-2014 oil price decline, GCC countries have spent recent years with one overarching priority in mind: economic diversification.

Acutely aware of the need to reduce financial dependence on traditional oil and gas revenues, regional decision-makers have been working diligently to lay the foundations for the post-petrodollar era.

While many of these efforts have centred on sustainable energy resources, such as solar, nuclear and, most recently, wind power, Gulf countries have also set their sights on unrelated markets; perhaps most notably, that of hospitality. Owing to its geographical location, the region has all the hallmarks of a global transportation hub, but related opportunities extend far beyond visitors who are just passing through.

Of course, it would be disingenuous to suggest that development within the GCC’s tourism sector is a post-2014 phenomenon. Cities such as Dubai and Muscat established themselves as international holiday hotspots long before reduced oil revenues started to bite. Nevertheless, the need for economic diversification has catalysed the Gulf’s hospitality market, with both governments and private developers exploring the merits of expansion into new geographies and segments.

This week’s Special Report is testament to such activities. In the following pages, construction professionals from across the Gulf explain how they are supporting – and benefitting from – the region’s busy hospitality-development market.

In the this week’s market overview, industry experts from ASGC, Perkins+Will, and Thomas & Adamson, discuss the increasing prevalence of mixed-use projects within the GCC’s hospitality market – a shift that is offering tourists much more than the typical hotel experience (page 20).

Commenting in the Special Report’s Brand View, Ioannis Foteinos, chief executive officer of Salfo & Associates, details his company’s experience within the hotel-construction segment, outlining the vital role that consultants play in ensuring that projects complete on time (page 24).

In this week’s country focus, I turn my attention to decision-makers in Saudi Arabia, who have embarked on a series of hospitality- and entertainment-related megaprojects that look set to provide a major boost to the kingdom’s domestic and international tourism segments (page 26).

But taking centre stage this week is the Special Report’s Knowledge Partner, S&T Interiors and Contracting (page 22). In this article, KS Ravi Kumar, executive director of the Oman-headquartered construction outfit, explains how selectivity and consistency have enabled S&T to grow its hospitality project portfolio significantly, both regionally and internationally.

Kumar also notes that the GCC’s broad-ranging diversification efforts are being mirrored within the hospitality market itself, with growing demand for services related to value-driven projects. Yet regardless of the segment in which a company is operating, he warns that there should be no variation in its approach to quality and execution.

Ultimately, the GCC’s hospitality-development landscape is looking increasingly positive for our sector. Providing construction professionals heed Kumar’s advice, the market is providing regional contractors and consultants with plenty of reasons to be cheerful.

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