Saudi contractor teams up with Fairmont Raffles to exploit kingdom's growing tourism industry

Fairmont Raffles Hotels has announced two projects in Saudi Arabia that will service the kingdom's growing religious tourism market. Fairmont has teamed up with Saudi construction giant Bin Laden Group to build both hotels in the religious city of Mecca.

Fairmont is developing an 198-room hotel called the Raffles Makkah Palace Hotel, which will open in November.

The hotel group will also manage a hotel in the city called the Royal Clock Tower, due to open in early 2010. It will feature a 40m-high clock visible from 17km away and a 577m tower with 76 storeys. The clock is intended to announce daily prayers for Muslims.

Raffles hotel in Dubai
A Raffles hotel completed by the group in Dubai in 2007

The Saudi government said that the hotels were part of a wider plan to grow religious tourism in Saudi. It plans to attract 88 million tourists and generate more than $30bn in tourism revenue by 2020.

Fairmont Raffles is planning three further hotels in the UAE, two in Abu Dhabi and one on Dubai's Palm Jumeirah.