Marriott International is planning to operate 10,000 rooms in Dubai, four times its current number, in time for Expo 2020.
Speaking at a media roundtable today, Neal Jones, Marriott’s chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Middle East and Africa, said it will “definitely” be announcing new projects relating to the 2020 showcase.
“We have a robust growth plan to achieve 70,000 rooms within our portfolio by 2020. I wouldn’t say it (Expo win) has drastically changed anything, but it’s certainly underpinned our confidence to achieving, if not exceeding, the 70,000 rooms. We think we can get to 10,000 rooms in Dubai.”
Asked if its focus will be introducing new brands, or expanding existing ones, Jones said: “I think it’s a bit of both, we will look to expand existing brands, which are well known and have great support and loyalty, but there are other brands such as Residence Inn and potentially Protea, that we can bring to this part of the world which will help us underpin that growth.”
While he hailed the Expo win as fantastic news for Dubai and the entire continent, he warned air lift into Dubai must grow at a similar pace to keep pace with supply. 
“History dictates that it’s generally balanced, and we’ll look for that continued balance. The legacy piece is extremely important. As the plans are released with infrastructure, we hope as an operator that it’s somewhat varied around the city and spread out, as that helps from a legacy standpoint, rather than leaving one part with significant supply that could be potentially difficult to fill.”
Jones said it hopes to finalise the letter of intent agreement with Protea “in the next few days”, which will nearly double Marriott’s distribution in Africa to more than 23,000 rooms. “The brand is very robust in South Africa and Africa . . . and we’ll be exploring growth in the Middle East,” he said.