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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

Softbank-backed OYO Hotels to expand in UAE with 139 properties by 2020

OYO raised $1 billion from Softbank Investment Advisers to help fund global expansion

Softbank Group-backed OYO Hotels to grow to 150 hotels across the UAE by 2020. Courtesy OYO Hotels
Softbank Group-backed OYO Hotels to grow to 150 hotels across the UAE by 2020. Courtesy OYO Hotels

OYO Hotels, the Softbank-backed hospitality chain, is expanding in the UAE with 139 more properties by 2020 as it seeks to capitalise on the influx of visitors to World Expo 2020, taking place in Dubai over six months.

The India-based company is planning to grow to 12,000 rooms within two years across Dubai, Sharjah and Fujairah, up from 1100 rooms currently, OYO Hotels said in a statement on Sunday.

"With over 170 countries committing to the World Expo 2020, the hospitality sector in the Middle East, and more specifically UAE, is poised to grow substantially," Ritesh Agarwal, Founder and chief executive of OYO Hotels, said. "We are ready to tap this opportunity."

Dubai, best known for its luxury hotels, has focused on a strategy of offering more affordable accommodations to cater to a greater number of tourists. The emirate’s room supply is set to reach 132,000 by the end of 2019, growing at a two-year (2017-2019) CAGR of 11.1 per cent, according to Dubai Tourism, which is targeting more than 20 million visitors when Expo 2020 comes to the emirate.

OYO, which focuses on budget and mid-range hotels, opened 13 properties in the UAE when it entered the market in the first half of 2018. The expansion brings its total hotels in the UAE to 150 properties by 2020.

Established in 2013, OYO, which describes itself as a "digital hotel chain", uses its own proprietary apps for inventory management, room service, revenue management and tracking customer service performance. Last month the company raised $1 billion (Dh3.68bn) from Softbank Investment Advisers, the global advisory firm that launched Softbank Vision Fund which invests in the technology sector.

The money will help finance OYO's global expansion plans, including in the UAE, an OYO spokesman told The National.

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"The country is an attractive market with sizeable internet and mobile presence, which complements our approach," Vartika Goel, country lead of OYO Hotels UAE, said.

OYO currently has a footprint in more than 350 cities spread across six countries including India, China, Malaysia, Nepal, the UK and now UAE in the Middle East. OYO expects to create more than 4,000 direct and indirect jobs in the UAE by the end of 2019, it said.