Home Hotel industry AHIC 2021: Saudi Arabia, sustainability and MEA value for global hospitality

AHIC 2021: Saudi Arabia, sustainability and MEA value for global hospitality


The Arabian & African Hospitality Investment Conference, known as AHIC, has been in existence for 18 years since 2003. It is the flagship conference of Bench Events and has been a leading international industry event, knowledge forum and collective information on industry developments and the most relevant topics.

Like many industries and labor standards, the events industry has turned to virtual means to bring people together. This year the event took place at Madinat Jumeirah Dubai as a throwback for the live and in-person events. Below are some of the key topics, as summarized by Wood Couture co-founder and COO, Filippo Sona.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

As part of Saudi Vision 2030, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud announced three giga-projects in 2017. These developments aim to contribute to the kingdom’s great ambitions in terms of economic growth.

The Red Sea Project is one of those giga-projects, which influences the tourism and hospitality space. It quickly built up a huge pipeline of projects, with 50 new hotels and a cumulative total of around 8,000 keys. The exciting part is not just the quantity, but the opportunity to use the information, technology and expertise available today to possibly set new benchmarks in hotel development.

Sustainability is a key aspect in project work plans, expressed in its ambition to fully rely on renewable energies on site. The operations aim to implement policies aimed at achieving 100% carbon neutrality and zero landfill waste.

A focus on sustainable development

Sustainable practices are not exclusive to developments in Saudi Arabia, the entire industry has taken a serious turn by prioritizing social, environmental and responsible governance practices.

Initiatives led by organizations such as the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance have come to the fore. Its members are leading hotel brands and chains, including Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, IHG, Marriott International and Radisson Hotel Group, with the Accor group as the latest addition, as announced by Chairman and CEO Sébastien Bazin.

More than that, new brands such as ENVI Lodges, launched at AHIC, have affirmed sustainability as a clear direction for the future of the industry. The ENVI brand promotes regenerative travel, responsible tourism and sustainability is at the heart of its concerns.

MEA is a global innovation laboratory

With the arrival and expansion of brands not only in UAE and Saudi Arabia, but also in Djibouti and Cameroon, among others, a world of opportunity opens up possibilities in the region. It provides an almost blank canvas effect for new ideas, especially in the advent of lifestyle hospitality.

Design, technology, construction and even working methods are explored and tested in the region. Another positive point is the launch of KUBE Ventures. It is a hospitality-focused incubator for forward-thinking entrepreneurs and startups to drive and accelerate innovation in the industry.

Talk about a perfect storm, the world is coming to the region for the growth of global tourism and hospitality industry.


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