The past year has revealed that Ali Hamad Lakhraim Alzaabi is a master of time management and extremely skillful at juggling multiple roles. A prolific, self-made Emirati entrepreneur, he holds senior leadership roles in several businesses he has founded, in the investment banking, private equity, and real estate sectors, as well as in hotel ownership and development.
The founder, president, and CEO for Millennium Hotels & Resorts, Middle East and Africa, has also managed to find the time to launch eight hotels since July 2016, with 20 more due to open by the end of 2017 — at which point the group’s portfolio will have grown by more than 50% over the last year.
For Alzaabi, the past year is only the start of rapid, region-wide expansion for the group, with the goal of operating more than 100 properties within the next three years.
Under Alzaabi’s leadership, development and acquisitions at the company have raced ahead, with 40 new contracts signed in the last 12 months, adding more than 15,000 rooms across the Middle East. Among these was Studio M Dubai World Central, which has around 750 keys, making it one of the largest budget hotels in the region.
New brands have also launched in the region, spanning from budget and mid-market concepts such as Studio M, M Hotel, and Millennium Executive Apartments, through to luxury concepts such as Biltmore. The group has also developed and signed another new brand for the region: Agarwood. The eco-lifestyle concept, researched and developed specifically for the Middle East, is due to debut in Salalah, Oman, later this year.
Three Studio M hotels are due to open in Dubai by 2018, as well as another in Muscat and one in Saudi. With more than 10,000 keys in the pipeline, Saudi Arabia remains a key strategic focus for the group. It operates five properties in the kingdom, with an additional 23 properties in the pipeline. Two new hotels in Saudi Arabia with more than 1,400 keys — close to Al Masjid Al Haram, with direct access to the Holy Ka’aba — are in the offing.
Three further properties are in store for Makkah, with a goal of opening 10 to 12 hotels in the next six to 12 months, encompassing the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah and extending to the North, South, and Western Provinces. The next openings for the country include Millennium Hotel in Madinah as part of Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz Airport, and Millennium and Copthorne hotels in Makkah Al Naseem, due to open later this year.
“Our development objective is to have 130 hotels by 2020,” Alzaabi says, adding: “We have successfully positioned Millennium Hotels & Resorts MEA as one of the major players in the hospitality sector, not only in the UAE but across the region, and for this I am truly grateful to all of our team.”