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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Elaf Group’s expansion strategy foresees growth in Saudi Arabia’s hospitality sector
ABU DHABI: The hospitality sector in Saudi Arabia is poised for further growth as the Elaf Group plans to add 5,000-6,000 hotel rooms by 2026, according to CEO Adel Ezzat.
In an interview with Arab News, Ezzat outlined the group’s ambitious expansion strategy, targeting a broader presence across the Kingdom within the next three years.
He said: “We will be going to cover the Kingdom from now till the end of 2026 by adding 5,000 to 6,000 keys. After that, we want to expand our sales outside of Saudi Arabia.”
Elaf Group, wholly owned by SEDCO Holding, a prominent Saudi ethical and sustainable investor, holds a strong presence in the travel, tourism, and hospitality sectors.
Elaf hotels, known for their blend of five- and four-star offerings, provide visitors with a unique experience of the local culture and heritage.
Ezzat outlined the group’s expansion plans in the hospitality sector, emphasizing: “We are adding another 5,000 keys in the coming three years with a triple number of hotels. So, we will be needing a lot of collaboration with different players in the hospitality and tourism ecosystem.”
Currently, Elaf manages two brands: Elaf, specializing in serving the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, and the new brand, Joudyan, designed for metropolitan areas like Jeddah and Riyadh.
The expansion plan encompasses locations such as AlUla, Dammam, and Soudah, along with a focus on increasing their presence in Jeddah, Riyadh, Makkah, and Madinah.
When it comes to international expansion, Ezzat revealed: “We want to expand in Saudi in the coming two to three years, then we go outside of Saudi.”
He drew parallels between Saudi Arabia and Egypt, noting: “Now when you come to Saudi hotels, you meet Saudis, they serve you coffee ... You talk to a Saudi receptionist. So, this is similar to Egypt as well.”
Ezzat also pointed out that the UAE, Qatar, and Bahrain, with their modern infrastructure and luxury offerings, are attractive destinations for potential expansion.
Emphasizing their commitment to guests visiting holy cities, Ezzat noted, "People who come to Makkah and Madinah due to the spirituality of the location and the nature of their visit are emotionally connected to a place. So, if they stay with you and come back to Makkah, they come back to you as emotional guests. So, you need to take care of them and give them what exactly they need.”
Regarding industry shifts, Ezzat emphasized Elaf’s customer-centric philosophy and its mission to showcase Saudi Arabia’s hospitality to a global audience.
He highlighted the importance of nurturing the company’s teams and human capital, believing that motivated associates lead to heightened guest satisfaction.
In terms of sustainability, Ezzat disclosed the group’s plan to transform its existing nine hotels into sustainable properties.
Finally, Ezzat offered advice to aspiring entrepreneurs and startups in the sector, encouraging them to persevere and seize the abundant opportunities expected in the next 10 to 15 years.
“You will be having leadership positions, but you need to start step by step,” he said.
In May, Elaf Group entered into a partnership agreement with EXO Travel Group to establish EXO Saudi Arabia, a move aimed at strengthening Saudi Arabia’s presence on the global tourism stage.
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