Budget hoteliers in the Emirates are eager to expand as the global economic slowdown looks likely to have an impact on its high-end competition.
"Whenever there's an economic crisis, budget hotels are the ones less impacted because our prices are more competitive," said Darroch Crawford, the managing director of Premier Inn in the Middle East.
The British budget hotel chain, which has a partnership with Emirates Group in the region, is planning a rapid expansion in the UAE after securing several sites in Dubai, Ras al Khaimah, Umm al Qaiwain, Abu Dhabi and Fujairah to develop six hotels.
"There will be two hotels in Dubai located in the Silicon Oasis and another near the airport, while one hotel will be developed in the remaining emirates," said Mr Crawford.
The Dubai hotels would be completed by the end of next year and the remaining hotels by 2010, he said. "We have an equal share partnership with Emirates, so as a company we both own and operate the hotel, unlike the traditional business model of just having a single management contact," Mr Crawford said.
The cost of developing a hotel was about Dh150 million (US$40.8m), he said, while rates would start at Dh495 per night, including tax and service charges.
Gerald Lawless, the executive chairman of the Jumeirah Group, owners and operators of the seven-star Burj Al Arab in Dubai, said Dubai led global hotel statistics with an average room rate of US$283 (Dh1,040) last year.
Other Gulf cities also topped the $200 mark last year. "The average rates we are now enjoying may level off, but I don't see them decreasing," he said.
Premier Inn already has a hotel open in Dubai Investment Park.
"We have been open for about four months in Dubai and so far about 80 per cent of guests are business travellers - there's a huge potential in that segment," Mr Crawford said.