Rotana Group Upbeat About Iran Expansion

The group is planning to launch four hotels in Iran, two each in Tehran and Mashhad, by the end of 2018
A Rayhaan hotel in DubaiA Rayhaan hotel in Dubai
Iran hopes to see the construction of 300 new hotels over the next five years

Rotana Hotels and Resorts, a Dubai-based group, is planning to open 100 hotels worldwide by 2020, with at least four establishments in Iran.

The group is planning to launch the hotels by the end of 2018, with two properties in the Iranian capital Tehran and another two in the holy city of Mashhad, which is home to the shrine of Imam Reza (PBUH), the eighth Shia imam.

The northeastern city hosts more than a third of Iran’s 5.1 million annual visitors, most of whom are pilgrims, Travel Daily Media reported.

Speaking at the World Travel Market London 2016 (Nov. 7-9), Rotana CEO Omer Kaddouri said, “We are dedicated to developing new opportunities and we are particularly excited about the opening of Rayhaan Imam Reza by Rotana in Iran.

“Iran’s tourism industry is flourishing, illustrating the tremendous potential within its hospitality sector, and we’re thrilled that we’ll be able to offer our award-winning hospitality to those visiting.”

Rotana’s Rayhaan brand is aimed at Muslim tourists, offering halal services. The group also hopes to bring its “much-demanded” Arjaan Hotel Apartments brand into the country.

The four hotels will have 840 rooms in total, helping Iran move toward its goal of expanding its capacity to host 20 million tourists a year by 2025.

The government of President Hassan Rouhani, whose first four-year term ends next summer, hopes to see the construction of 300 new hotels over the next five years, as it seeks radical improvements to its low-quality tourist accommodation.

  More Groups Coming

After the signing of the landmark nuclear deal between Tehran and the six major world powers last year, and especially following the lifting of economic sanctions, a number of international hotel groups have moved to establish a foothold in Iran.

French group AccorHotels became the first foreign branded hotel to set up shop in Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution when they opened two hotels, namely Ibis and Novotel, last October near Imam Khomeini International Airport, 30 km south of Tehran.  

In March, Spain’s Melia Hotels International announced in a statement that it plans to open a five-star property called Gran Melia Ghoo in a 130-meter tower in Salman Shahr, Mazandaran Province near the Caspian Sea, as early as 2017.

Furthermore, German and Turkish investors have signed deals with Iran to open a total of 20 hotels in the next 20 years.

In addition to the abovementioned deals, there is plenty of interest from other firms to get in on the action.

The Middle East and North Africa branch of Louvre Hotels Group is close to signing agreements to open three hotels, with the group’s president for the MENA region, Amine Moukarzel, saying in May that the French group is in advanced talks with an unnamed Iranian investor to open a 300-room Royal Tulip-branded hotel in Tehran.

Furthermore, the Dubai-based Shaza Hotel, an affiliate of the prestigious Kempinski Hotel chain, is targeting entry within the next five years to open five hotels in Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz, Rasht and Mashhad, while two other Emirati hotel operators, Crista Hotels and Jumeirah Group, are reportedly exploring the possibility of investing in Iran.

While the UN, US and European nations lifted sanctions connected to Iran’s nuclear program in January, most American firms are still prohibited from exploring the Iranian market due to other sanctions imposed by Washington on Tehran, giving their Europe- and MENA-based competitors an edge in the Iranian market.


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