Dubai, Africa to lead discussions at AHIC

Industry leaders will address different issues facing the industry and the region at AHIC 2013

THE programme for the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) 2013, which will take place from May 5– 6 at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai includes an extensive participation from the top hotel investment industry professionals, discussing the positive outlook of certain markets, as well as addressing the very real issue of country risk which pertains to doing business within some areas of the Middle East.

One of the main focuses for the conference this year will be highlighting Dubai’s hotel performance and outlook for 2013. According to Jones Lang LaSalle’s latest Hotel Investor Sentiment Survey, Dubai is the best performing hotel market in the Middle East and North Africa region and is the one to watch in 2013. Since 2009, Dubai hotels have reported a strong recovery in occupancy and average daily rate (ADR) levels with growth in demand outpacing the addition of new supply. Jones Lang LaSalle said in the report that Dubai’s total capacity will witness a big jump from the 54,300 rooms currently available with an additional 4,500 hotel rooms expected to be completed in 2013, and a total 11,000 units in the pipeline through until 2014.

Gabriel Matar, regional director of Middle East and Africa at Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, will be speaking at a key panel discussion, titled ‘The Profitability of a New Build In Dubai’, looking at the key areas in Dubai where the potential for hotel investment lies, and what is the anticipated profitability. It will also highlight what, where and how should investors build today and what are the returns they can anticipate for the next five years.

Matar commented: “In the Middle East and Africa, trading performance expectations have improved significantly since the last hotel investment survey although the outlook still remains slightly negative for the short and medium term. The improvement in sentiment is largely due to an overall stabilisation in the region since the Arab Spring and tourist flows have started to return to countries such as Egypt and Tunisia, yield requirements remain higher in Mena. Dubai yield expectations are at 10 per cent.”

On a broader view on the region, STR Global published their Global Performance Report for January 2013, highlighting that the region reported an 8.2 per cent increase in occupancy to 59.8 per cent, a 1.3 per cent increase in ADR to $182.81 and a 9.6 per cent increase in RevPAR to $109.29.

Elizabeth Randall, managing director of STR Global, who will speak on key performance indicators in the Mena region, said: “The entire region posted a 9.6 per cent increase in RevPAR for the first month of 2013 and was the best global performer in RevPAR percentage change, the Middle East is growing in both occupancy and ADR. Whilst still recovering in occupancy, the ADR in the African nations is still suffering as a result of continued political turmoil.”

In line with that, a special panel discussion at AHIC has been dedicated to discuss ‘Country Risk in the Region’, helping investors know how to plan their investment strategy with the current political uncertainty in some countries of the region, and what is the investment landscape for those looking to go into new markets. The session will be presented by Rachel Ziemba, head of emerging markets at Roubini Global Economics, and panellists include: Salman Haider, executive managing director of Hotels at Majid Al Futtaim Properties, Christophe Landais, managing director of Middle East at Accor, Paul Pisani, senior vice president of Hotel Development at Corinthia Hotels and Hadi Nezir, chairman of UB Holding.

Another panel discussion, ‘What You Need To Know About Funding Hotels’, will focus on how funding a hotel project is different to other real estate projects, discussing the possible implications for refinancing once the development stage is over, and what are the alternative means of finance outside of the conventional.

In addition to the panel discussions and sessions, AHIC this year offers great informal networking opportunities to its attendees, with an opening reception hosted by the Jumeirah Group at Mina A’Salam on May 5, 2013, and another evening reception on May 6, 2013 at Fairmont The Palm, hosted by IFA Hotel Investments.