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In a bid to expand its footprint in the Middle East, Marriott International, Inc. (MAR - Analyst Report), recently unveiled a Courtyard by Marriott branded (upper-moderate scale, select-service brand especially designed for catering to the needs of modern travelers) hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This new property named Courtyard Riyadh Diplomatic Quarter marks the opening of the first Courtyard by Marriott brand in Saudi Arabia and the fourth in the Middle East region.

Ideally situated in the Al Hada District, the Courtyard Riyadh Diplomatic Quarter lies in proximity to Olaya, the leading business district of Riyadh. Moreover, the hotel’s proximity to Diplomatic Quarter, which boasts foreign embassies and offices of various famous international organizations, makes it a perfect fit for business, administrative and financial activities.

We expect the strategic position, wide range of amenities offered at the 286-room hotel and its contemporary ambience to create a strong guest base, going ahead.

Commencing its journey in 1980, Marriott now owns 39 hotels in the Middle East with as many as eight properties exclusively in Saudi Arabia. However, other hoteliers including Hyatt Hotels Corporation (H - Snapshot Report), Intercontinental Hotels Group plc (IHG - Snapshot Report) and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. (HOT - Analyst Report) have also made their presence felt in the region.

Owing to the saturation in the U.S. market, major hoteliers are exploring growth opportunities abroad. Marriott has a substantial development pipeline in the Middle East and is poised to benefit from the increase in demand for hotels in that region, going forward.

In the first quarter of 2013, Marriott witnessed an 11.2% rise in its RevPAR in the Middle East and Africa region gaining from a 4.1% increase in occupancy. This Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company is now expecting to double its Middle East and Africa portfolio over the next five years with greater focus on its Courtyard, Residence Inn and Marriott Executive Apartments brands.

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