Hilton Worldwide is set to triple the number of hotels the company has in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), following the signing of six new properties in the holy city of Makkah. The new hotels form part of the Jabal Omar development, one of the largest hotel developments in the world, and brings the total number of hotels in the company’s development pipeline in KSA to 12, a total of more than 6,000 rooms. This growth will require Hilton Worldwide to recruit 9,000 new Team Members over the next three to four years.
Overlooking the Grand Mosque in the centre of Makkah, the Jabal Omar development will help to meet the demands for a wider variety of accommodation from the rising number of pilgrims visiting Saudi Arabia every year. Hilton Worldwide will manage 30 percent of the rooms in the development, across six hotels - four Hilton Hotel & Resort properties, including an all-suites hotel and a convention centre, a DoubleTree by Hilton and the first Conrad hotel in the country.
Conrad Makkah, Hilton Suites Makkah, Hilton Bab Makkah North, Hilton Bab Makkah South, Hilton Makkah Convention Hotel and DoubleTree by Hilton Makkah are scheduled to open in 2014. When all six hotels open, Saudi Arabia will become the first country across the Middle East and Africa to become home to all five brands the company offers in the region.
“In the next three years we will triple our presence in Saudi Arabia and have a total of nearly 5,000 rooms in Makkah alone,” said Ian Carter, president, global operations and development, Hilton Worldwide. “There’s no mistaking the potential for even further growth in the Kingdom and Jabal Omar is a great example of this. We are also seeing an increased interest from owners who are developing hotels in the secondary cities, and they are looking across our spectrum of brands to make the most of the booming market.”
To support Hilton Worldwide’s growth in Saudi Arabia, the company will be recruiting 9,000 new Team Members. In line with Saudi law, a significant number of these Team Members will be Saudi nationals. To this end, the company has partnered with The Prince Sultan College for Tourism and Business (PSCJ) to develop a hospitality curriculum and qualification specific to Hilton Worldwide. The first class of students to embark on the programme will begin studying in September 2011.
“We’ve got a huge task ahead of us to recruit the number of people required for our upcoming hotels in the Kingdom. By partnering with The Prince Sultan College for Tourism and Business we hope to engage aspiring young Saudis to pursue a career in hospitality, and to work together to train the people we will need across our hotels,” said Rudi Jagersbacher, area president, Middle East and Africa, Hilton Worldwide.
The company will also provide support to the six hotel schools to be set up by the Jabal Omar Development Company and the General Organisation for Technical Education and Vocational Training. These schools aim to train around 20,000 people over 10 years to work in the industry.
Saudi Arabia has seen an increasing number of religious and business travellers each year. As the site of the largest pilgrimage in the world – Makkah attracts millions of people from every corner of the world during the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Hilton Worldwide’s maiden property in the city – Makkah Hilton & Towers – has remained one of the key hotels in the city since it opened as the first international hotel in the holy city 17 years ago.
Hilton Worldwide currently operates six hotels across KSA and has a total of 12 hotels in the development pipeline in the country. The company has signed 10 management agreements to date this year and the total number of hotels in the development pipeline across Middle East and Africa now stands at 36.
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