According to the Lodging Econometrics (LE) Q4 2021 publication of its Construction Pipeline Trend Report for the Middle East, the hotel construction pipeline in the region presently stands at 546 projects/150,547 rooms. Following an eight consecutive quarter downward trend, this is the second consecutive quarter project counts have increased in the region since Q3 ‘19.

Projects currently under construction stand at 337 projects/102,821 rooms, a 4% by project and 9% by rooms drop year-over-year (YOY). Projects scheduled to start construction in the next 12 months are up 5% by projects and 20% by rooms YOY to end the fourth quarter at 86 projects/22,987 rooms. Projects in the early planning stage are up 13% YOY and unchanged by rooms YOY at Q4, standing at 123 projects/24,739 rooms.

Countries with the most projects in the construction pipeline are Saudi Arabia with 210 projects/69,078 rooms and the United Arab Emirates with 126 projects/35,666 rooms. Following distantly is Egypt with the highest project count the country has even had at 68 projects/15,152 rooms. Qatar follows, also at a record-high in Q4, with 65 projects/15,507 rooms, and Oman with 31 projects/6,383 rooms. Dubai continues to lead the construction pipeline in the United Arab Emirates with 93 projects/27,938 rooms.

Cities in the Middle East with the largest hotel construction pipelines are the Provincial region with 69 projects/14,167 rooms, followed by Riyadh, with record project and room counts, to stand at 63 projects/12,825 rooms, and Doha with 54 projects/12,930 rooms, a record high room count for the city. Jeddah follows with 44 projects/9,155 rooms and then Makkah with 34 projects/32,931 rooms. At Q4 ‘21, 48% of the projects and 54% of the rooms in the region’s construction pipeline can be found within these five cities.

Five franchise companies account for 60% of projects and 58% of rooms in the pipeline in the Middle East at the end of the fourth quarter. Hilton Worldwide leads this group with 97 projects/25,574 rooms. This is a record-high number of projects for the company in the region. Hilton is followed by Accor with 83 projects/21,529 rooms. Next is Marriott International with 74 projects/21,822 rooms, then InterContinental Hotels Group Total (IHG) with a record-high project count of 51 projects/11,953 rooms, and Radisson Hotel Group with 24 projects/6,743 rooms.

The leading brands in the pipeline for these companies are Hilton’s DoubleTree with 26 projects/5,946 rooms, and Hilton Hotel & Resort with 21 projects/7,096 rooms; Accor’s Moevenpick brand with 12 projects/2,911 rooms and its Novotel brand with 11 projects/3,177 rooms; Marriott International’s Courtyard by Marriott with   14 projects/3,269 rooms and its Residence Inn brand with 9 projects/1,190 rooms; IHG’s top brands at Q4 are InterContinental with 12 projects/2,945 rooms and Holiday Inn with 11 projects/2,769 rooms; and Radisson Hotel Group brands are led by Radisson Blu with 11 projects/2,344 rooms and Radisson Hotel with 7 projects/1,796 rooms.

In the fourth quarter, the Middle East opened 23 new hotels accounting for 5,741 rooms, the highest hotel count in any quarter of 2021 for the region. For the year, the Middle East opened 58 new hotels/14,094 rooms. LE is forecasting 99 hotels/24,054 rooms to open in 2022 and another 107 hotels/25,854 rooms to open in 2023.