Accor has revealed its Saudi Arabia masterplan as it reaffirms its steadfast support to the kingdom’s Vision 2030 ambitions.
The robust strategy is closely aligned with the country’s blueprint for socio-economic transformation.
It not only maps out Accor’s portfolio expansion plans in key destinations, but also supports the government’s vision for expansive tourism mega projects as well as targets for Saudisation, gender quality and education.
“As the largest hotel operator in Saudi Arabia it is our responsibility and privilege to support Vision 2030 and the kingdom’s aspirations for sustainable economic diversification and to play a pivotal role in shaping the evolution of the hospitality landscape,” said Mark Willis, chief executive, Accor Middle East & Africa.
A crucial element of Accor’s Saudi Arabia’s strategy is its involvement in giga projects led by Saudi’s Public Investment Fund and the group has already signed memorandums of understanding with the Red Sea Development Company to bring bold, playful and luxurious hospitality brands to its prestigious Red Sea project, one of the most hotly anticipated leisure destinations.
Accor is also in active discussions with the PIF and key stakeholders in other game-changing developments including Amaala, Qiddiya and King Abdullah Financial District and expects to enter negotiations with Diriyah Gate soon.
In Al Ula, the group has signed a deal with Jeddah’s Skonmas Trading Company to take over and operate Shaden resort, making history as the first international operator to manage a property at this premier UNESCO-listed heritage site.
Shaden Resort Al Ula will become part of the MGallery Experience following a property enhancement plan due for completion by November 2020.
It will showcase the boutique brand in a unique location and highlight the diversity of hospitality and lifestyle experiences Accor can offer in Saudi Arabia.
This agreement builds on the success of Accor’s selection as the exclusive hospitality partner for the Winter at Tantora Festival staged in Al Ula between December 2018 and March this year, with Accor operating the luxury tented camp at Ashar and other food and beverage and recreation facilities.
Accor has been present in Saudi Arabia for more than 30 years and is the kingdom’s leading operator with 36 properties (13,782 keys) and 37 (10,776 keys) in the pipeline.
The group has opened two new Saudi properties this year - Mövenpick Al Tahlia Jeddah and Fairmont Riyadh – and continues to eye opportunities to leverage its unrivalled portfolio of brands, with a focus on midscale, lifestyle and branded residences concepts.
This has been reflected in recent signings including Fairmont Ramla Serviced Residences, the first Fairmont standalone luxury serviced residence in Riyadh, and Novotel and Novotel Living in the landmark KFUPM Business Park in Saudi’s Eastern Province.
Saudisation is the lynchpin of Vision 2030 and Accor has made strong progress in reaching private sector targets, with Saudi Nationals now representing 32 per cent of the group’s workforce in the country, many in leadership and senior positions.
The group is stepping up its Saudisation campaign by strengthening partnerships with educational institutions and local authorities, recruiting Saudi role models to support new recruits and working with the government to provide placements for university students.
The news comes as Saudi Arabia seeks to open to tourists for the first time.
Plans were unveiled over the weekend for a new visa regime for visitors from 49 countries, while strict dress codes are expected to be relaxed for female guests.