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Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:HOT) is strengthening its position as the leading hotel operator across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region with an existing portfolio of 82 hotels, representing nearly 22,000 guest rooms, the majority of which are operated under Starwood’s world-renowned Sheraton and Le Méridien brands. The company announced today that it will increase its MEA portfolio by more than 60% with nearly 50 new hotels set to open over the next five years, adding more than 14,000 guest rooms to the region while creating thousands of local employment opportunities. With over 20 hotels expected to open by the end of 2015, Starwood is on track to reach a milestone 100 hotels across MEA. Further underscoring the importance of the region as one of Starwood’s fastest growing hotel and travel markets, earlier this month the company relocated its global headquarters from Stamford, Connecticut to Dubai for a month-long immersion.
“Starwood continues to see demand for growth of all of our brands across the Middle East and Africa despite economic and political uncertainty in some parts of this incredibly diverse region,” said Frits van Paasschen, President and CEO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts. “Rapid economic growth, rising personal incomes, a growing middle class and ever greater global connectivity are driving new travel patterns and demand for travel, and this region is at the center of these trends and a key focus of our growth strategy.”
With more than 70% of the world’s economic growth coming from fast-growing markets over the next few years, Starwood is focused on expansion in developing MEA markets such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, Senegal, South Africa and Nigeria. The company is also focused on growth opportunities in key emerging markets including Iraq, Pakistan, Angola, Ghana, the Ivory Coast and East Africa.