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Marriott to nearly double workforce in Mideast, Africa over next three years

Signage for the New York Marriott Marquis is seen in Manhattan, New York, November 16, 2015.  REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo



Marriott International Inc., which became the world’s largest hotel operator with its $14 billion purchase of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., plans to almost double its workforce in the Middle East and Africa over the next three years.
The company expects to add 30,000 more people to its regional workforce of 41,000 as new properties are opened, Marriott’s regional president Alex Kyriakidis said on Sunday. About 6,000 of the new jobs will be in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates sheikdom that is the company’s largest market in the Middle East and Africa.
“Within three years, we are going to grow to 90,000 rooms and we are going to need another 30,000 associates’’ across the region, Kyriakidis said at a press conference. “This company will be one of the
most significant employers in the region and particularly in the U.A.E.’’ Marriott currently has about 52,000 rooms in the region.
Marriott, based in Bethesda, Maryland, completed its purchase of Starwood on Friday, surpassing Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. as the biggest chain by number of rooms and market value. Buying Starwood increases Marriott’s market share outside the U.S. and gives it more luxury and lifestyle hotels, including the W chain.

Marriott has 13,680 rooms in the U.A.E., with 9,616 more in the pipeline. The company’s portfolio of 52 hotels will grow to 80 with 23,000 rooms by 2025, according to a figures it provided.The hotel industry in Dubai, which built some of the world’s most iconic properties, including the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab, is facing an array of challenges. Revenue per available rooms, a measure of profitability, dropped by about 11 percent this year as demand fell because of the slump in the price of oil and the strengthening of the dollar, Kyriakidis said. Average room rates fell 10.2 percent in August to 515.22 dirhams ($140.27) amid supply growth, hotel consultancy STR said in a report this month.
Kyriakidis said none of that worries him. The drop in tourism from
Russia and other markets has been partially offset by a surge in bookings from within the region, he said. Demand from the U.K. has held up, and regional travelers are visiting Dubai in greater numbers because terrorism attacks have made it tougher to get visas to Europe and elsewhere, he added. The city won’t have a problem absorbing the thousands of rooms in the pipeline, he said.
Some people are wondering “if
this is the time to panic. The answer is no,’’ he said. Supply will outstrip demand probably until the end of 2017, and then the market will see “a reversal and growth’’ from 2018 until 2020, he added.
Kyriakidis predicts hotel occupancy in Dubai will average 76 percent in 2016 with an average room rate of about $200 a night. Any market with such numbers is “a healthy market and a profitable market,’’ he said.

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