Hilton Hotels says it plans to double its portfolio in the Middle East and Africa over the next five years, as it focuses on development and growth.

Hilton currently has 43 properties in the region, with 15 more in the scheduled to open in the next three years.

Hilton Hotels’ Middle East and Africa president Jean-Paul Herzog says the region is a key development market for the chain.

Next year, nine Hilton hotels are scheduled to open in the region, with eight more expected to open by 2010.

The 235-room Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa in Egypt, the 151 villa Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa in the United Arab Emirates and the recently refurbished 400-room Hilton Taba Resort & Nelson Village on the Sinai coast in Eygpt, are all scheduled to open in October.

Hilton’s first residential property, the 371-room Hilton Jumeirah Beach Residence and the Hilton Beach Club in the UAE will also open in October.

The company’s first property in Qatar, the Hilton Doha, will also open that month, while its first in Lebanon, the Hilton Beirut, will open in June.

“Consumers should be able to choose between a multitude of brands, each offering a different product for a different reason of travel,” Herzog says. “Consumer choice is key to future growth.”

By Elizabeth Clifford-Marsh