Hilton signs accord for first property in Qatar

The main pool at the new Hilton Beach Club in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE.

International hotels group Hilton has revealed plans for further expansion across the Middle East with the signing of an agreement to develop the first Hilton hotel in Qatar.

The announcement comes ahead of the opening of the new Hilton Kuwait Resort in June and the development of six new properties in Egypt, as well as a further two each in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

"The Middle East region is experiencing strong growth, both as a business and leisure destination, and we are pleased to be opening Hilton Kuwait and announcing plans for Qatar as both countries are developing rapidly," said Rudi Jagersbacher, Hilton International's vice president for operations in the Arabian Gulf.

Hilton signed an agreement to develop the Qatar property, expected to open in 2004, with Doha Hotels Company, on behalf of the hotel's owner Shaikh Saoud bin Khalid bin Hamad Al Thani.

"Hilton has proven repeatedly that it can enter a market and create a landmark property that attracts both business and leisure travellers. We are pleased to be part of the Hilton family and look forward to working with them in Doha," said Nadir Badruddin, managing director of Doha Hotels Co.

The last two years have proved successful for Hilton International. With the opening of five new hotels in the region, Hilton's property portfolio has expanded by 40 per cent in line with an ongoing strategy to be present in every major city in the Middle East.

Hilton is evaluating plans to broaden its offer to the market by establishing hotels in the midmarket segment, utilising the Scandic brand, and also in the five star deluxe segment where a number of Conrad branded hotels are already established.

Expansion across the region includes the opening of six new properties in Egypt, including two resorts in the Sinai and Hilton's first hotel in Alexandria scheduled to open by the end of the year.

Hilton will also introduce two new properties in Beirut over the next coming years.

Expansion in Saudi Arabia includes the luxurious Hilton Jeddah Palace, which is attached to Hilton Jeddah and will offer private luxury suites suitable for visiting dignitaries. Hilton is also looking at various projects in Makkah.

Meanwhile, the group has opened its second beach club in the UAE in Ras Al Khaimah.

Located on an exclusive 100-metre beachfront within five minutes of the Hilton Ras Al Khaimah hotel, the beach club is intended for both hotel guests and residents from the surrounding emirates, and reaffirms the emirate's push to be a burgeoning tourist destination.

Set against a backdrop of the Hajah mountains, the beach club offers an excellent variety of water-sports for the whole family including a multi-level swimming pool featuring a waterfall and jet fountain.