CONSUMER DISCRETIONARY SECTOR
Sultan Al Otaibi
CEO of Dur Hospitality Group
“We are deeply rooted in the heart of Saudi hospitality, as we have served businessmen, leisure-seeking visitors, and pilgrims from all over the world for many years with best-in-class standards without compromising our local essence,” says Sultan Al Otaibi, CEO of Dur Hospitality.
Dur Hospitality aims to be the partner of choice for hospitality development and operations in Saudi Arabia and recognizes that Saudi Exchange expansion into international markets allows it to learn from its global peers.
The company attributes its growing success to its ability to draw on Saudi Arabia’s deep-rooted hospitality traditions and incorporate them into its services. In addition, its growth has been driven by diversifying its portfolio and harnessing partnerships with prominent global hospitality brands to upgrade its local offerings. “Ultimately, our success depends on our ability to anticipate future trends and how quickly we can adapt to the ever-transforming world,” Al Otaibi says.
Innovation is navigating business and driving the future of all industries
Besides growing its business, the company launched Dur Academy, which aims to hone employees’ skillsets through educational workshops. Dur also pursues an extensive CSR agenda under its dedicated CSR brand “Athar” that focuses on social initiatives, environmental protection, and local talent development. “We grow healthier when we grow together with our community,” Al Otaibi says of these initiatives.
Dur Hospitality’s long-term goals are in line with the Saudi Vision 2030 and include welcoming leisure-seeking tourists, diversifying revenue sources, upgrading the quality of life, and creating jobs. This comes with the objective of expanding geographically within the Kingdom while at the same time developing innovative ways to upgrade existing customer services by introducing cutting-edge technology into the Saudi hospitality industry.
Looking at the big picture and recognizing that innovation is navigating business and driving the future of all industries, Dur Hospitality embraces innovation as a key pillar of its strategy. The company recently implemented Winnow Vision Technology – a first in Saudi Arabia – a tool backed by artificial intelligence that surveys food waste trends at hotel kitchens, informing decisions that enhance sustainability and reduce food waste. “Our overall strategy is always underpinned by making an impact,” explains Al Otaibi. “We run even our simple day-to-day operations, such as revenue management and customer relations, through our innovative system.”
While Dur Hospitality uses technology and AI to reduce food waste and carbon emissions, its CSR program prioritizes environmental protection and natural resource preservation. It has developed programs and campaigns to promote sustainability, including “Linens for Livelihood” and Tadweer, an electronic and electrical equipment recycling program.
“With the current transformation that the Saudi services sector is undergoing, hospitality is a rapidly expanding sector offering significant opportunities for local and foreign investors,” Al Otaibi says.
“Tourism is also in full-swing and set to roll out a wide range of opportunities for unique ventures, especially with the anticipated influx of tourists over the next decade.”
Dur Hospitality is a publicly listed company specializing in the hospitality sector in Saudi Arabia. Established in 1976, it is widely recognized for its extensive expertise in managing, developing, and operating a diverse portfolio of hotels and residential communities across the Kingdom. Its portfolio includes 28 hotels and residential properties, with 12 under design and development. Dur also operates its own homegrown sub-brands including Makarem Hotels, Karam for Umrah Services, and Dur Communities.
The rapid transformation taking place in the Kingdom is impacting all sectors and industries, but particularly tourism, with mega-projects, new visa policies, and tourism initiatives taking shape. The hospitality sector is projected to grow to more than $24 billion by 2025. This presents Dur Hospitality with a significant growth opportunity, which the company plans to seize by constructing both luxury and budget-friendly hotels, resorts, serviced apartments, and other hospitality and accommodation projects.
In 2019, the company signed deals to open three properties, expanding its presence in the two Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah under the Makarem Hotels portfolio. Makarem currently has 2,181 rooms in the pipeline and is pursuing a steady path toward its target of 10,000 rooms by 2028. The company continues to support the Vision 2030 goal of expanding quality tourism through building strategic alliances with global hospitality brands and diversifying its offerings by delving into new specialty sectors, such as serviced apartments.
Dur is presided over by Chairman Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Issa and led by CEO Sultan Al Otaibi and Director of Hotel Operations Hassan Ahdab. Its success has been fueled by its Saudi Exchange listing, which has allowed it to generate external funding to support its growth and expand its capital.
Dur also has a robust corporate social responsibility strategy and has created a dedicated brand, Athar, that launched 14 initiatives CSR Projects in 2019, encompassing a wide range of social, charitable, health, and welfare activities. The initiatives reached over 4,000 people around the country.
Dur Hospitality has earned a reputation as Saudi Arabia’s leading home-grown hospitality company, revered for its unrivalled market knowledge and as a driving force of industry innovation.
For more than four decades, Dur Hospitality has been setting the benchmark for hospitality industry standards in Saudi Arabia.
The home-grown company, which was established in 1976, is widely recognized for its extensive expertise in managing, developing, and operating a diverse portfolio of hotels and residential compounds across the kingdom.
Thanks to its in-depth market knowledge, robust business partnerships, and ability to identify opportunities for new hospitality concepts, Dur Hospitality has grown its portfolio to 28 hotels and residential properties, with 12 under development and design.
Dur Hospitality’s Makarem portfolio has a target of 10,000 rooms by 2028
4000Amount of people reached through Dur’s CSR projects
The company prides itself on operating all of its properties at world-class standards while offering authentic Saudi Arabian hospitality through product and service nuances that resonate with local and international guests.
Dur Hospitality’s strategy for success has been differentiation and diversification. The organization has partnered with some of the world’s most prominent hospitality brands to develop hotels and residences in high-demand locations, but has also developed its own innovative concepts that meet specific market needs.
For example, Makarem Hotels is a one-of-a-kind spiritual hospitality brand with properties in the two Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah. The brand offers upscale amenities and is dedicated to delivering warm and friendly service, which includes spiritual assistance to all guests whether they are travelling for Umrah, Ramadan, Hajj, a family visit, or business purposes.
Inspired by the wide-ranging ambitions of Vision 2030, Makarem Hotels plays a key role in catering to the growing amount of Hajj and Umrah visitors who are anticipated by that date, and is on track to reach its target of 10,000 rooms by 2028.
The Kingdom’s blueprint for socioeconomic transformation guides every aspect of Dur Hospitality’s business, from strategic growth, Saudization, and talent acquisition and retention, to trailblazing new initiatives ranging from technology adoption to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) practices.
As a company that recognizes its responsibility to train the next generation of hospitality professionals, which is aligned with Vision 2030’s goal of transforming the country into an exceptional and authentic tourism destination, Dur Hospitality has partnered with several public and private entities to provide student and graduate training and employment opportunities. Initiatives range from specialist service delivery training to identifying talented university students and training them for hotel leadership roles.
Dur Hospitality has also joined forces with the Ministry of Education to offer graduate placements while the new Dur Academy trains hotel team members to meet world-class standards according to the Curriculum of America Hotel Association, and is the only tertiary education facility of its kind in the Kingdom.
Talent retention is another facet of its long-term strategic growth plan because once Saudi Nationals join the company, it must earn their loyalty through career development, upskilling programs, and fast-track training for exceptionally talented employees with leadership potential.
To help ensure staff are happy and motivated, the company implemented a cutting-edge people analytics platform to measure employee engagement and satisfaction last year. It’s one of many investments in people and technology that have paid dividends, as evidenced by the 2019 Great Place to Work® survey, in which Dur Hospitality ranked 18th in the list of best places to work in Saudi Arabia.
In 2020, AI technology designed to reduce waste reduction will help Dur Hospitality set another industry benchmark in Saudi Arabia as the company takes center stage in the sustainable development of the Kingdom’s hotel and tourism sector.