The UAE’s hotel development pipeline has now expanded to 48,000 keys with an estimated cost of $32 billion, according to new data.

With the additional supply, the country's room capacity is forecast to grow by 25% from the current stockpile of 200,000 rooms.

Real estate consultancy Knight Frank said that Dubai will account for 76% of the new rooms on top of its existing 130,000 stockpile. Around 70% of the total supply across the country will be in the four-star category or above.

At the same time, Saudi Arabia’s ambitious hospitality development programme will see 275,000 new hotel rooms across the kingdom at a cost of $110 billion, the consultancy said on Tuesday.

Faisal Durrani, partner and head of Middle East research, said the proportion of international hotel operators in the UAE will rise to 60% from 56% today.

“Interestingly, Hilton Hotels will add the most rooms overall, with close to 5,000 new keys expected by the end of the decade, a 43% increase on today,” he said.

“This mirrors the group’s plans in Saudi, where Hilton hotels will emerge as the second-biggest operator by 2030 with 19,000 rooms under management, around 3,000 rooms more than the group will have in the UAE by that stage.”

Knight Frank research estimates that by 2030, the Accor Group, which has Hilton, Fairmont, Ibis and Pullman in its portfolio, will be the UAE’s largest hotel room operator, with close to 25,000 rooms under management, as well as the largest operator in Saudi Arabia.

The UAE’s three biggest cities - Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah - continue to lead the region in terms of hotel performance, according to Turab Saleem, partner, head of tourism and hospitality, but a "sea change" is also expected in the Saudi tourism market.

(Writing by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Cleofe Maceda)