(File pic) Manazeli Group chairman Jehad Abdulrahman Nazer and Holiday Villa Hotels & Resorts chairman, Tan Sri Azman Shah Harun. Courtesy Photo

ARAB group Manazeli plan to set up more hotels in Saudi Arabia in partnership with international hospitality group Holiday Villa Hotels & Resorts.

The immediate plan is to open Holiday Villa Hail Hotel, the first five-star hotel in the city of Hail next year, Manazeli chairman Jehad Abdulrahman Nazer told the New Straits Times in an interview here.

Jehad said that Hail is set to become a major tourist destination in Saudi Arabia, attracting tourists from Southeast Asia, and the Arab region.

The city of Hail, capital of the eponymous province, is located in the center of northern Arabian Peninsula on the eastern side of the massive Jibal Aga and at the fringe of the vast desert of the Rub' Al-Khali.

Jehad said, travellers will find many activities in Hail especially historical sites to explore.

"It is the city where forts and palaces originate which were once under the rule of the Ottoman’s. There's a yearly festival in Hail, which is expected to attract one million tourists. The festival is from December 22 until February 10 next year. We target to open the hotel by late January or early February so we could cater to tourist arrivals.

"We know the hotel will do well as tourism numbers are increasing. This is the first year Saudi Arabia is marketing tourism overseas. The newly launched tourist visa system is drawing holidaymakers to the kingdom," said Jehad.

In September, Saudi authorities unveiled the tourist visa scheme allowing the nationals of 49 countries from Europe, Asia and America to apply for a multiple visa. The instant tourist visa is obtainable online or upon arrival at the Saudi airports.

(File pic) Holiday Villa Hail, Hotel Saudi Arabia will open late January or early February next year. Courtesy Photo

Jehad said, Manazeli will market the hotel in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia.

"We will invite top 20 travel agents in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei to attend the grand opening and present Hail as a new destination for people to come visit," he said.

Manazeli, founded in 1975 and also involved in real estate, F&B, acquisitions and professional management has been the exclusive agent of the Holiday Villa brand in Saudi Arabia since 2009.

Their maiden hotel together, Holiday Villa Madinah Al-Munawarah is now running in its seventh year.

In 2015, Holiday Villa Bakkah opened in Mecca.

Jehad said the Holiday Villa brand has been growing from strength to strength in Saudi Arabia.

"We are working with Holiday Villa Hotels & Resorts for a second hotel in Mecca. We are in negotiations with the owners of an existing 800-room five-star hotel. We are talking to them to use the Holiday Villa brand and to allow us to operate it under a long term lease. We hope the agreement will be signed by early next year.

"Mecca is an attractive market. It is attracting around 1.8 billion Muslim pilgrims a year from around the world and there is always high demand for quality hotel rooms. Although many hotels open every year in Mecca, the rooms are never enough," said Jehad.

Holiday Villa Hotels & Resorts, set up over two decades ago, positions itself as global leisure and business class hotels, resorts and service apartments offering their unique brand of Malaysian hospitality while up keeping international trends and standards.

Its chairman, Tan Sri Azman Shah Harun, said Saudi Arabia is an important market for the group and that the partnership with Manazeli is long term.

"In Saudi Arabia, you need a strong local partner. If other hotel groups approach us to operate their properties, we will go in with Manazeli," said Azman.