Last updated: 12:49 PM ET, Wed April 27 2016

Marriott Unveils Expansion Plans for Middle East, Africa

Hotel & Resort | Patrick Clarke | April 27, 2016

Marriott Unveils Expansion Plans for Middle East, Africa

PHOTO: Doha, Qatar. (Photo courtesy of Thinkstock).

Despite its impending merger with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worlwide, a deal that's expected to close mid-year, Marriott International doesn't appear to be slowing down.

This week at the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference in Dubai the Bethesda, Maryland-based company unveiled ambitious plans for expansion in the Middle East and Africa.

Currently, Marriott operates close to 150 hotels in the region. But the company aims to nearly double that figure in a short period of time, targeting 245 hotels by 2020.

What's more, the company is on track to open 17 new properties in the region this year.

READ MORE: Marriott Looks Back on Impressive 2015

"We have ambitious plans for growth internationally, and the Middle East and Africa will play a large role in helping us achieve both our short-term and long-term targets," said Marriott's President and Managing Director for the Middle East and Africa Alex Kyriakidis in a statement. 

United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia

Marriott revealed that a good portion of its expansion will take place in priority markets across the region, including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, with a combined 10 new Marriott properties comprising 4,600 rooms scheduled to open across the two Middle East nations over the course of the next two years.

The company will look to capitalize on new opportunities in Saudi Arabia in particular, revealing plans to open 21 new hotels there by 2025.

READ MORE: State Department Announces Travel Warning for Saudi Arabia

In the meantime, Marriott has announced the signing of the 300-suite Marriott Executive Apartments in another key market, Doha, Qatar. The unique property is scheduled to open in 2019.

New Destinations

In addition to expanding in priority markets like the UAE and Saudi Arabia, Marriott is eyeing new destinations throughout the region.

Between now and 2025, it plans to enter eight new countries across the Middle East and Africa, including Iraq, Gabon, Rwanda, Tunisia, Benin, Kenya, Libya and Mauritius. 

While it remains to be seen what Marriott brands will establish the company's footprint in these new destinations, it's clear Marriott is committed to expanding its presence in the region, with its team of associates in the Middle East and Africa expected to reach 21,000 by 2018.

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