Accor’s Saudi Arabia masterplan supports Kingdom’s Vision 2030 ambitions



Accor, a world-leading augmented hospitality group, has revealed its Saudi Arabia masterplan as it reaffirms its steadfast support to the kingdom’s Vision 2030 tourism ambitions.

The Group’s robust strategy is closely aligned with the country’s blueprint for socio-economic transformation. It not only maps out Accor’s portfolio expansion plans in key destinations, but also supports the government’s vision for expansive tourism mega projects as well as targets for Saudization, gender quality and education.

“As the largest hotel operator in Saudi Arabia it is our responsibility and privilege to support Vision 2030 and the kingdom’s aspirations for sustainable economic diversification and to play a pivotal role in shaping the evolution of the hospitality landscape,”said Mark Willis, CEO, Accor Middle East & Africa.

Giga projects take centre stage
A crucial element of Accor’s KSA strategy is its involvement in giga projects led by Saudi’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and the Group has already signed memorandums of understanding with The Red Sea Development Company to bring bold, playful and luxurious hospitality brands to its prestigious Red Sea project, one of the most hotly anticipated leisure destinations regionally and globally. Accor is also in active discussions with the PIF and key stakeholders in other game-changing developments including Amaala, Qiddiya and King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) and expects to enter negotiations with Diriyah Gate soon.

In Al Ula, the Group has signed a landmark deal with Jeddah’s Skonmas Trading Company to take over and operate Shaden resort, making history as the first international operator to manage a property at this premier UNESCO-listed heritage site. Shaden Resort Al Ula will become part of the MGallery Experience following a property enhancement plan due for completion by November 2020. It will showcase the boutique brand in a unique location and highlight the diversity of hospitality and lifestyle experiences Accor can offer in Saudi Arabia.

This agreement builds on the success of Accor’s selection as the exclusive hospitality partner for the Winter at Tantora Festival staged in Al Ula between December 2018 and March this year, with Accor operating the luxury tented camp at Ashar and other food and beverage and recreation facilities.

Cementing Accor’s leadership position
Accor has been present in Saudi Arabia for more than 30 years and is the kingdom’s leading operator with 36 properties (13,782 keys) and 37 (10,776 keys) in the pipeline.
The Group has opened two new KSA properties this year -Mövenpick Al Tahlia Jeddah and Fairmont Riyadh – and continues to eye opportunities to leverage its unrivalled portfolio of brands, with a focus on midscale, lifestyle and branded residences concepts.

This has been reflected in recent signings including Fairmont Ramla Serviced Residences, the first Fairmont standalone luxury serviced residence in Riyadh, and Novotel and Novotel Living in the landmark KFUPM Business Park in KSA’s Eastern Province.

Holy Cities
With Vision 2030 targeting 30 million Umrah visitors and a significant increase in Hajj pilgrims, Makkah and Madinah, where Accor is the leading operator with eight properties and the most diverse portfolio under the Raffles, Fairmont, Pullman, Swissôteland Mövenpickbrands, remain a development strategy focus.The Group has eight additional projects pipelined in Makkah, bringing 4,534 new keys to market.

Accor is already recognised as a world-leading provider of hospitality services to Holy Cities visitors, with three properties crowned winners at the UK Hajj & Umrah Excellence Awards 2018 awards, and continues to build on this position of strength with new pilgrim resources including a website featuring essential information on Makkah and Madinah and tailored packages and offers at Accor hotels.

The group has dedicated significant resources to researching KSA’s booming religious tourism sector, commissioning a report, due for release soon,that profiles pilgrims in the kingdom’s key source markets to identify how it can meet their future needs with innovative hospitality concepts and services.

Saudisation is the lynchpin of Vision 2030 and Accor has made strong progress in reaching private sector targets, with Saudi Nationals now representing 32% of the group’s KSA workforce, many in leadership and senior positions.

The group is stepping up its Saudisation campaign by strengthening partnerships with educational institutions, local authorities and NGOs, recruiting Saudi role models to support new recruits and working with the government to provide placements for university students.

Training and talent development
With training crucial to recruiting and retaining Saudi talent, with a focus on accelerating their career development and promoting them to senior roles, Accor has rolled out several initiatives exclusive to the hospitality group.

In 2014 the Group partnered with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) to launch the Saudi Management Training Programme (SMTP), the first initiative of its kind in the kingdom.

This 15-month programme was created to train and prepare Saudi Nationals for managerial positions in the hospitality sector and it has since evolved into the Emerging Leaders Development Programme (ELDP), run by the Accor Academy.

ELDPemploys INES, a new cutting-edge tool designed to help Accor select and retain great talent and build strong hotel teams in Saudi.The Group has also rolled out new training programmes dedicated to the employee experience and its unique ‘Heartist’ service culture.

In a move that further strengthens Accor’s commitment to support Vision 2030’s objectives, negotiations are under way to establish a dedicated hospitality and learning development centre in the kingdom. The facility will focus on vocational and managerial expertise to meet Saudisation targets and the group’s talent pipeline requirements.

Gender equality and RiiSE
Through its globally-acclaimed RiiSE initiative, Accor is a champion of gender equality and diversity in the workplace and over the past year, the group’s Middle East RiiSE membership to close to 5,000 members or 35% of the total global network, with the largest percentage of new members recruited from Saudi Arabia.

RiiSE, which encompasses female empowerment, is closely aligned to Vision 2030’s goal of increasing women’s participation in the workforce from 22% to 30%. It is supported by several Accor initiatives, including a women-only fast-track career development programme that has led to Saudi women taking on management roles in KSA, including General Manager positions.

Accor’s employees, partners, brands and guests in Saudi Arabia are supported by a dedicated business unit in Jeddah, as well as the group’s MEA head office in Dubai. These units will grow in tandem with Accor as it expands its kingdom-wide presence.

“Our strategy is aligned to the country’s dynamic vision with a sharp focus on expanding our network of properties in strategic locations kingdom-wide and providing compelling career development and leadership opportunities for the nation’s talented men and women.” concluded Willis.


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