Ascott to run 3 more properties in Saudi Arabia

CapitaLand said its wholly owned serviced residence arm, The Ascott, had clinched contracts to manage another three properties in Saudi Arabia, including its first in the Islamic holy city of Mecca.

The 280-unit Ascott Makkah, 92-unit Ascott Villas Riyadh and 69-unit Spectrums Residence in Jeddah are slated to open next year.

Ascott, which was named the Middle East's leading serviced apartment brand at the recent World Travel Awards, is also set to open Ascott Rafal Olaya Riyadh, its first serviced residence in the kingdom's capital.

"Religious tourism is one of the fastest-growing segments in the travel industry," said Ascott chief executive officer Lee Chee Koon.

"In Saudi Arabia, religious tourism is valued at US$5.68 billion (S$8 billion), with 19 million pilgrims having visited Mecca and Medina in 2015, and this is further expected to reach 30 million by 2025." Mr Lee said the group aims to double its portfolio in the Middle East to 5,000 units by 2020.

GROWTH POTENTIAL

Religious tourism is one of the fastest-growing segments in the travel industry... In Saudi Arabia, religious tourism is valued at US$5.68 billion.

MR LEE CHEE KOON, Ascott chief executive officer.

The latest contracts increase Ascott's portfolio in the Middle East to more than 2,700 apartments in 19 properties across 10 cities in Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

This year, Ascott has added five properties with more than 700 apartments in the Middle East.

It opened Citadines Al Salamah Jeddah, the first Citadines-branded property in the region, Somerset Panorama Muscat and will soon open Ascott Rafal Olaya Riyadh.

Over the next three years, 11 more Ascott properties will come into operation in Dubai in the UAE, Istanbul in Turkey, Al Khobar, Jeddah, Makkah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, and Muscat and Sohar in Oman.

"Ascott has presence in eight of the top 10 destinations popular with Muslim travellers - Malaysia, UAE, Turkey, Indonesia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Singapore," Mr Lee added. "We will be able to tap into our network easily to cross-sell our properties catering to this niche market."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2016, with the headline 'Ascott to run 3 more properties in Saudi Arabia'. Print Edition | Subscribe