DUBAI, May 7 (Xinhua) -- With competition for hosting guests and events heating up in the United Arab Emirate (UAE) which will host the World Expo in 2020, global hospitality brands invest in more luxury hotels across the Gulf country while the existing ones expand their capacities.
Doris Greif, general manager of the Jumeirah Etihad Towers hotel in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, was proud to host political heavyweights like UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore at her hotel during the UN climate summit Abu Dhabi Ascent.
"We clearly have the capacities for hosting events like this one with over 1,000 delegates and we aim to position Jumeirah Etihad Towers as a resort for major conferences in the UAE," Ms. Greif said.
The Jumeirah Group is owned by Dubai's ruling family Al-Maktoum which runs eight hotels in the UAE, including the renowned seven- star resort Burj Al-Arab. They plan to build a ninth one with 300 rooms on Saadiyat Island near Abu Dhabi.
Although the World Expo will be held in Dubai, all seven emirates of the UAE expect a tourism boom.
Thus, Ms. Greif and her Jumeirah Group are not alone with their plans. At the ongoing Arabian Travel Market (ATM) fair and exhibition, Dubai-based Le Meridien hotel, traditionally a beach hotel, announced that it would rebrands itself into Le Meridien Dubai Hotel and Conference Centre.
A spokesperson of the hotel said they had undergone an intense expansion to add six new meeting venues and a ballroom, providing in all 21 facilities or about 5,600 square-meter area for conference and banqueting.
Dubai aims to nearly double the number of leisure tourists and business visitors from 11 million of last year to more than 20 million by 2020. Dubai already has the highest number of congresses, conferences and incentive events in the Middle East, and hotels like Etihad Towers and Le Meridien aim to bank on the trend.
Other brands say the time is right to expand on a broad basis.
"We currently operate 10 hotels with 3,500 rooms in Dubai," said Neil Jones, chief sales and marketing officer for the Middle East and Africa of American hotel brand J. W. Marriott. By 2020, " we believe we can operate 10,000 rooms. Dubai is a unique destination and this perception moves plans forward and attracts visitors from all over the world," Jones added.
In 2013, hotels in Dubai reported the highest profit levels in the region for a fourth straight year, according to research firm TRI consultancy. Gross profit per room rose last year by 10.3 percent to hit 206 U.S. dollars.
Hilton Worldwide recently opened a new hotel with 359 rooms under its sub-brand DoubleTree and will open another one in Dubai in June, bringing its total number of resorts in the UAE up to 17.
Dubai currently has 612 hotels and resorts. While it is not clear how many hotels in total Dubai might host by 2020, over 100 hotels are planned to be built in Mohammed Bin Rashid City, a new city that started construction last year and is poised to be completed by 2020.