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Just What the UAE Needs; More Hotels

November 15th, 2012 · No Comments · Abu Dhabi, Dubai, The National, Travel, UAE, tourism

I really don’t know how this works, but the UAE seems to have about a thousand major hotels. Big hotels. Name-brand hotels.

They … are … everywhere.

So this latest story about the UAE and hotel building? No surprise.

Turns out, one of The National’s business reporters has found, more than 40 percent of all hotel rooms in the pipeline in the “MENA” region (Middle East/North Africa) … are in the UAE. Another 40,000-plus hotel rooms, headed for where I am sitting.

When this country already is awash in hotels.

The broaching of this topic around the table at the 4 p.m. news meeting went something like this.

“Why do we need more hotel rooms?”

“Because every room we have now is filled.” (Sarcasm noted.)

“Last night, I drove past that new one on (fill in the blank) street, and it was dark. Not one light.”

“That’s because everyone was already in bed.”

“No, that’s because everyone was downstairs celebrating the new year.” (Referring to the lunar-driven Islamic calendar, where the year 1434 commenced today.)

What actually happened, no doubt, is that whichever hotel one of my colleagues had in mind was nearly empty. Which everyone at the table knew was the point. Mostly because we have too many hotels in this country.

Throw out the name of a hotel chain. Any of them. The odds are about 90 percent that the company will have a hotel in the UAE. Probably in Dubai, but maybe in Abu Dhabi, too. With maybe a second property. In both cities.

This often leads to confusion.

“It’s at the Park Rotana.”

“Which Park Rotana?”

“The nice one.”

“Which one is that?”

“The new one.”

“Which one is that?”

By coincidence, I was at an Abu Dhabi hotel tonight, for someone’s farewell party. Lots of National farewell parties are held at that hotel. Not because anyone particularly likes the hotel, but because we get a company discount there.

It had a fair number of people on the patio of a restaurant and a bar, but that probably was about mild weather and most of the country embarking on a long weekend, rather than the magnetic pull of this particular property.

It’s just weird, this hotel business. Including hotels in areas like Yas Island (home to the Formula One race track) that appears to be 90 percent empty about 95 percent of the year.)

My theory is that every hotel executive feels compelled to have a hotel in the UAE. Particularly in Dubai. “You have a property in the UAE?” “Of course we do!”

It probably makes no fiscal sense. It can’t. But to not have a hotel in the UAE is to brand a hotel chain behind the times and unhip.

So, yes. Another 40,000 hotel rooms, in the pipeline. Now all the country needs is another 40,000 tourists here every day of the year to make it all worthwhile.

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