SINGAPORE - CapitaLand said on Monday (Oct 17) that its wholly owned serviced residence arm, The Ascott Ltd, had clinched contracts to manage another three properties in Saudi Arabia, including its first in the Islamic holy city of Makkah.
The 280-unit Ascott Makkah, 92-unit Ascott Villas Riyadh and 69-unit Spectrums Residence in Jeddah are all slated to open in 2017.
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.
Said Ascott chief executive officer Lee Chee Koon: "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, with 19 million pilgrims having visited Makkah and Madinah in 2015, and this is further expected to reach 30 million by 2025." The amount is equivalent to S$7.9 billion.
"The strong partnerships we have forged in the Middle East have enabled us to accelerate Ascott's expansion in the region to tap this growing market. Saudi conglomerate Abdul Samad Al Qurashi has entrusted Ascott to manage six serviced residences, the latest being Ascott Makkah and Spectrums Residence in Jeddah. We will further expand via management contracts in these gateway cities where we will continue to build scale. We aim to double our portfolio in the Middle East to 5,000 units by 2020."
The latest contracts increase Ascott's portfolio in the Middle East to more than 2,700 apartment units in 19 properties across 10 cities in Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Mr Lee added: "Ascott has presence in eight of the top 10 destinations popular with Muslim travellers - Malaysia, UAE, Turkey, Indonesia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Singapore. We will be able to tap into our network easily to cross-sell our properties catering to this niche market."