April 27, 2016 (archive): Choice Hotels International, Inc., one of the largest hotel companies in the world, announced today the signing of a master development agreement with Equinox Ventures Ltd, a joint venture between Equinox Group Ltd. and Al Tayyar Travel Group, to introduce and develop three of Choice’s most prominent brands: Clarion, Comfort and Quality across the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Supported by solid fundamentals and increased focus from the public sector, the Middle Eastern hospitality sector is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years. According to Phocuswright, the Middle East travel industry is forecast to rise to $98 billion by 2017, from $71.8 billion in 2014. Historically, hotel development in the region has been led by upscale brands, but with an emerging middle class looking to travel both within the region and internationally, and an increase in inbound business, leisure travel and tourism, there is growing demand for mid-market and budget accommodations.

Shuja Zaidi, President of Equinox Group Ltd. said, “We believe that the next wave of growth and expansion in our region belongs to the mid-market segment.  To prepare for it, it was only natural that we partner-up with one of the largest and most globally recognized experts in the space.”

With key regional markets such as Dubai, Riyadh, Jeddah and Makkah currently undersupplied in mid-market hotel accommodations, and many existing hotel properties operating independently and without brand affiliation. Dubai-based Equinox Group Ltd. offers regional expertise and the team possesses proven credentials in Hotel development, operations, finance project management and investment advisory.  Al-Tayyar Travel is one of the leading travel service providers in the MENA region operating over 400 retail travel agency branches in Saudi Arabia, as well as being the largest corporate travel management service provider.

Abdullah Aldawood, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Al Tayyar Travel Group said “This cooperation with a global player will help us close the gap in our efforts to integrate all parts of our travel business.  We had started with acquisition and development of hospitality assets, moving on to asset management and now rolling out globally recognized brands in the region with our partners who have the expertise and the regional knowledge.

The master development agreement is anticipated to deliver approximately 25 hotels and 8,000 hotel rooms for Choice’s portfolio in the UAE and Saudi Arabia by 2021.

“We are delighted to sign this agreement with Equinox Group and Al Tayyar Travel Group that will help Choice establish a presence in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and also offer a platform for rapid expansion. Drawing on their regional expertise and infrastructure, we are perfectly placed to provide travelers with the quality mid-market hotel accommodations they need, all backed by Choice’s global hotel platform and brand reputation for value and service.” said Mark Pearce, senior vice president, international division, for Choice Hotels.