Dubai, UAE: The UAE’s thriving hospitality sector has had a positive flow-on effect on the Middle East lighting fixtures market, as global solutions providers make their final preparations ahead of the region’s premier lighting design and technology showcase next week in Dubai.
According to research firm STR, there’re currently 99 hotels under development in the UAE, the highest in the Middle East, and representing 17 per cent of the 556 regional properties that are either under construction or in the planning stages.
Once completed, these hotels will boost the country’s supply by another 28,898 rooms, with Dubai alone looking to reach a total of 134,000 hotel rooms by the end of 2018 as it looks to host the Expo 2020.
Some of the stunning hotel openings across the Middle East recently include Jordan’s Hilton Dead Sea Resort & Spa; the Viceroy Dubai Palm Jumeirah; the Oberoi Beach Resort Al Zorah in Ajman; Hilton Tangier City Center & Residences in Morocco; and Algeria’s Sheraton Annaba.
As a major contributor to the regional economy, the hospitality sector is a key focus area of leading manufacturers and solutions providers at the Light Middle East 2017 trade fair, which takes place from 17-19 October 2017 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Zumtobel Group from Austria is one of more than 340 exhibitors from 31 countries at the three-day event, with the core theme at its stand centralised around the customer experience at a 5-star hotel, from the outdoor and façade, through to the reception area, and onto the guest room.
With a strong Middle East presence for more than ten years and a newly opened Dubai facility earlier in 2017, Zumtobel Group has provided the lighting solutions on several prestigious regional projects including the Atlantis hotel, Bvlgari Hotel, Palazzo Versace, Jumeriah Beach Hotel, Burj Al Arab, Address Downtown, and Anantara Eastern Mangroves.
Kevin Thompson, Zumtobel Group’s Product and Marketing Director in the Middle East, India and Africa, said he sees plenty of market potential in the regional hospitality segment, thanks to the combination of a strong tourism sector and global events such as the Dubai Expo 2020.
“Currently we see opportunities for not only new luxury hotels, but for mid-tier hotels and for the refurbishment of many of the existing 5-star properties,” said Thompson.
“When people travel to the UAE, expectations are high and a large part of that experience is the hotel they stay in. People want to see something unique, and operators are constantly striving to offer something new which gives architects and designers the chance to demonstrate their creativity.”
Thompson said the future of hospitality lighting is moving toward greater connectivity via IoT (Internet of Things), with much of the offerings from Zumtobel Group’s Light Middle East 2017 exhibition stand centred on Smart Building Automation and Smart City Lighting technology.
“In the near future, technology within luminaires will allow hotels to improve the guest experience,” added Thompson. “For example, through a mobile phone connected to a luminaire, a hotel can know when a guest has arrived and can be fully prepared for check-in before he or she reaches the reception desk.
“Or smart parking can guide guests to an empty space in the car park, while the entire end-user experience can become much smoother and hotels can become more efficient in the way they manage guests.”
The importance of effective lighting design in Middle East hotels and hospitality projects will also be a key talking point at Think Light, a two-day conference programme at Light Middle East discussing lighting from the three perspectives of concept, project and application.
Cameron McPherson, the Design Director for new hotels in the Middle East and Africa at IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group), is one of more than 35 speakers at the dedicated forum, and will speak about why global brands such as IHG can’t compromise on quality lighting design in all phases of fulfilling new hotel developments.
“One of the biggest problems in the Middle East is the lack of identifying how essential good lighting is in hotels and hospitality projects, not from the designer perspective, but from the owners’ and other consultants’ perspectives”, said McPherson, who is overseeing the design of the InterContinental Resort in Fujairah and the Crown Plaza Muscat Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre, which are among several new IHG regional hotels opening in the coming months.
“On behalf of our projects at the IHG, in the last two to three years we really started turning the corner on educating people on the importance of lighting design. We’ve got to the point in our agreements that we insist lighting consultants are essential and must be appointed and they must be from our preferred list.
“We’re doing it more for the owners’ interest than for ours, because at the end of the day, they get value for money, they get a better return on their investment, and a good lighting designer knows how to spend wisely and achieve maximum affect,” added McPherson.
Other Light Middle East 2017 exhibitors that have major references in the hospitality sector include UAE-based Huda Lighting and Debbas, Wibre from Germany, and Spanish manufacturer LEDS-C4.
Ahmed Pauwels, CEO of Messe Frankfurt Middle East, the organiser of Light Middle East, said: “The UAE and the Middle East is well-known for setting high standards compared to the rest of the world when it comes to hospitality and guests’ experience, and this has greatly enhanced the importance of high quality, energy-efficient and smart lighting.”
“The UAE in particular is well-known for being early innovation adopters and smart lighting technology will become more commonplace while lighting manufacturers and providers at Light Middle East 2017 will strike up fresh business partnerships with leading consultants and hospitality brands present in the region,” he added.
Now in its 12th edition, Light Middle East 2017 returns with a host of headline features such as the Light Middle East Awards, where the spotlight will shine on outstanding regional and global lighting projects.
Other features include Light.ication, the Middle East’s only competition nurturing the next generation of regional lighting designers, architects, and engineers; and Ready Steady Light Middle East, a live competition during the show where teams are given 90 minutes to design and install a lighting scheme with a range of provided equipment. More information about Light Middle East is available at: www.lightme.net.