The Tata Group has announced plans to expand its hospitality brand into the Gulf and Middle East with the opening of at least five Taj hotels in the region over the next two years. The new openings will be part of the group’s plans to expand its portfolio of properties by 36 percent to 300 in the next 3-5 years.
The group’s Middle East and North Africa Resident Director Sunil Sinha said the region is of strategic importance to the conglomerate due to its proximity to India and the high proportion of expatriates from South Asia.
He said: “Taj is our pride, our (oldest) business in the Tata Group, and it delivers unmatched experience and lasting memories for guests around the world, with a service culture that has been nourished over 116 years and practised across 50 destinations around the world.”
With the Taj Exotica due to open on The Palm in late 2021 or early 2022, the number of the Group’s hotels in Dubai will rise to three. The construction tender for a fourth in the Deira Creek area will be issued in 2022, and a fifth is planned for Makkah, Saudi Arabia, due to open in 2023 or 2024, zawya.com reported.
The cities of Manama, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Doha, Cairo and Istanbul are also possible sites for new Taj hotels, said Sinha.
He highlighted the appeal of Saudi Arabia and its economic diversification efforts through its Vision 2030 goals. “We feel that with the focus on economic diversification as well as tourism and development, like the NEOM project, the Qiddiya project, there are a lot of opportunities that will come our way, and we want to be a partner in this programme.”
“There are a number of projects in process; we have not put any limit. We would like to see a Taj flag in each of these cities; that is the first goal that we have.”
According to Sinha, the Tata Group has been impacted by Covid-19 just as many other global businesses, but it is also adapting and finding new ventures as the world recovers.
One such venture, he said, is TataMD Check, a fast-turnaround testing solution that produces results in two to four hours. “We have already launched this product in India, especially in the airports. We are very close to bringing this product to the Middle East, especially to Dubai,” he said.
Another new venture, TataMD Secure, is an end-to-end Covid-19 risk management system that has the potential to improve safety at large events and allow employers to bring workforces back to the workplace, he said.
On Tata’s future in the Middle East, Sinha cited emerging opportunities in telecoms and communications for the company to explore. “Emerging technologies like blockchain, AI, IoT, cloud mobility and other industry 4.0 solutions will play a big role in economic diversification.”
Speaking about Dubai Expo 2020, he added “We believe that Expo 2020 will unlock opportunities in this region and provide a tailwind to many businesses seeing some sort of plateauing in the last few years,” he said.