"The Mideast, that's where the action and money is," said Marriott Corp. president J. W. Marriott Jr. last week, describing one main thrust of his firm's future expansion.

A cruise ship is being converted into a floating hotel, to be opened this fall at Kuwait. Construction of a major hotel in the center of Cairo has begun and will take two or three years to finish. Work will start this spring on a Marriott hotel in Tehran, and contracts have been signed for a hotel in Amman and two in Saudi Arabia.

All of the Mideast projects involve ownership by citizens or governments of the countries plus 30- to 50-year management contracts under which Marriott will operate the facilities.

Marriott also revealed last week that discussions have been held with Europeans and people in the Far East on building theme parks under a similar joint venture arrangement. The parks would be owned locally but created and managed by Marriott, using experience gained in its U.S. amusement parks.

The Washington company has restaurants in Canada and France; hotels in Acapulco, Barbados, Amsterdam and Puerto Rico; and two dozen airline flight catering kitchens in Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, South America and Africa. A new addition of 144 rooms at the Sam Lord's Castle resort hotel in Barbados opened this season and has "done well," Marriott said. Airline kitchen facilities are being added in Lima and Rio de Janeiro.