In its 20-year history, Rotana has been successful in attracting investors, diversifying its product portfolio to cater to changing demands for accommodation and opening new properties in line with its aggressive expansion strategy, despite regional turmoil and negative global economic factors. The firm was voted the Middle East’s leading hotel brand for the sixth consecutive year at the 19th Annual World Travel Awards in Dubai in May 2012.

Rotana has carved out a niche as a pioneer, developing properties in emerging markets such as Erbil in Iraq, where it opened in 2011 to tap into Kurdistan’s fast-growing and lucrative business and religious tourism markets.

Rotana’s strategy of entering new territories early, combined with a strong presence in more stable markets such as the UAE, has worked well for the group and should continue to do so.

The GCC’s hospitality industry is set to grow at an annual rate of 8.1 per cent from an estimated $19.2bn in 2011 to $28.3bn by 2016, according to Dubai-based investment bank Alpen Capital. Rotana has at least five new-build properties in the pipeline in Saudi Arabia, and the market looks robust. The UAE is the second-biggest hotel market after Saudi Arabia, and Rotana already has more than 30 properties there, with more planned.

Predictions, however, for the overall performance of the region’s hotel sector are mixed. Ongoing political tensions in the Levant, Egypt and Bahrain will negatively affect business until unrest subsides, but the GCC outlook is bullish, which bodes well for Rotana properties.