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ITIC-ATM Middle East Summit to spotlight post-pandemic project financing

ITIC-ATM Middle East Summit to spotlight post-pandemic project financing

Industry experts will gather to discuss ‘the Middle East as a financial hub for future worldwide tourism investment’ during the upcoming ITIC-ATM Middle East Summit at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2022, which will take place at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from Monday 9 to Thursday 12 May.

Hosted jointly by ATM and the International Tourism & Investment Conference (ITIC), this year’s summit will be held on Tuesday 10 May 2022, shining a spotlight on access to project finance in the post-Covid era.

According to analysis from BNC Network, hotel contracts worth US$4.5 billion are expected to be awarded in the GCC during 2022, representing year-on-year growth of 16 percent.

The UAE generated the highest value of cumulative hospitality-related contracts in the GCC last year, followed by Saudi Arabia. The combined value of UAE and KSA projects accounted for more than 90 percent of all hospitality contracts awarded in the region during 2021, according to the research.

On a regional level, data released by STR shows that more than 169,000 pipeline rooms are currently under contract across the Middle East, the three most active cities being Dubai, Makkah and Doha, respectively.


This year’s ITIC-ATM Middle East Summit therefore represents a timely opportunity for travel and tourism professionals to explore regional investment opportunities, discover new modes of financing and network with peers from around the world.

Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME – Arabian Travel Market, said: “Development in the Middle East is progressing at a rapid pace. Fuelled by ambitious national initiatives such as Expo 2020 Dubai, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and Saudi Vision 2030, our region is witnessing significant levels of tourism-related investment, and this trend shows no sign of abating anytime soon.

“The ITIC-ATM Middle East Summit is the ideal forum in which to discuss trends, identify opportunities and explore the project financing models that are being employed across our region.”

Analysts from Colliers International note that although the GCC’s transactional market has been less active than its counterparts historically, recent sales such as the Address Portfolio ($500 million in 2019) and Aldar Properties’ acquisition of Rixos Bab Al Bahr ($205 million in 2022) are indicative of future growth. Their research predicts that the GCC transactional market will continue to mature as regional tourism markets reach a stabilised development phase.

Colliers International also points out that while the UAE market accounts for the lion’s share of regional hospitality investment at present, contract values in Saudi Arabia, which has announced numerous giga projects and masterplan developments during recent years, will attract significant investment over the longer term.

“We have witnessed an impressive hospitality pipeline amass across Saudi Arabia, with 33,560 rooms slated for Makkah and 19,500 spread throughout its other cities and coastal areas,” said Curtis. “Giga projects like NEOM, the Red Sea Development and Rua Al Madinah are gathering pace, with investors and hotel operators competing for opportunity and market share.”

The Middle East is increasingly being used as a springboard to raise capital for tourism projects as it offers appropriate financial instruments as well as agile financing modalities. A range of funds are available to support private initiatives through investment loans or share owning in projects, and developers looking to secure investment can submit expressions of interest to ITIC by completing the organisation’s online form.

Ibrahim Ayoub, CEO of ITIC, said: “Whether joining us in person or remotely, summit attendees will benefit from insights into the latest techniques that are being employed to turn Middle East tourism projects into reality, as well as practical takeaways from thought leaders.”

The ITIC-ATM Middle East Summit will include expert insights from Gerald Lawless, Director of the International Tourism & Investment Conference (ITIC) and World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Ambassador; Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism for Jamaica; and Dr Taleb Rifai, Chairman of ITIC and former Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

“Our expert speakers will share their opinions of the Middle East’s hotel development landscape during the summit, and this topic will no doubt represent a key focus at other sessions during the show,” Curtis added. “We look forward to having an in-depth discussion about GCC hospitality investment along with delegates, exhibitors and visitors from around the world at ATM 2022.”

Now in its 29th year and working in collaboration with the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) and Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) – formerly the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) – ATM show highlights in 2022 will include, among others, destination summits focused on the key source markets of Saudi Arabia and India.

Previously called Travel Forward, the revamped and rebranded ATM Travel Tech event has expanded by almost 400 percent year on year. In addition to showcasing the latest travel technology products and services, the ATM Travel Tech Stage will host a series of seminars, debates and presentations, as well as the inaugural ATM Draper-Aladdin
Start-up Competition.

The dedicated ARIVALDubai@ATM forum, meanwhile, will cover current and future trends for tour operators and attractions, focusing on growing business through marketing, technology, distribution, thought leadership and executive-level connections.

ATM will once again play an integral role in Arabian Travel Week, a festival of events dedicated to enabling travel professionals from all over the world to collaborate and shape the recovery of the Middle East travel industry through exhibitions, conferences, breakfast briefings, awards, product launches and networking events.

The UAE remains one of the most Covid-secure countries on the planet, with consistently low case rates and robust measures to ensure tourists’ safety at every stage of their visit. Like its neighbouring emirates, Dubai is committed to maintaining the highest hygiene and safety standards. The WTTC has endorsed its pandemic management, awarding the city a ‘Safe Travels’ stamp.

In line with the UAE government’s forward-thinking transition to the Monday-to-Friday workweek, this year’s edition of ATM will commence on Monday 9 May.