Five star luxury for northern Iraq

Abu Dhabi's Rotana is building a $55mn five-star hotel in Arbil in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
Five star luxury for northern Iraq
By Lynne Roberts and Reuters
Wed 05 Sep 2007 12:21 AM

Abu Dhabi-based Rotana Hotels said on Tuesday it would develop a $55 million five-star property in Arbil in Iraq's Kurdish region, which has largely been spared the violence affecting the rest of the country.

Rotana, which has 25 hotels across the Middle East, will compete for a growing hospitality business with the Erbil International Hotel, the city's only other five-star property, where a standard twin room costs around $300 a night.

"This is part of our strategic aim to have a property located in every key city in the Middle East," Selim el-Zyr, president of Rotana, said in a statement.

The semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government is trying to encourage investors to develop Arbil's hotel infrastructure and turn the city into an entry point to Iraq for foreign businesses.

The ministry of tourism last month said three or four times the current number of hotels were needed.

The city's international airport handled about 170,000 passengers in 2006 and the regional government is building a new airport to handle 1.5 million, according to the London-based Kurdistan Development Corporation.

Austrian Airlines became the first European carrier to resume scheduled flights to Iraq last year when it began twice-weekly services to Arbil from Vienna.

Rotana's 205 room Arbil property, scheduled to open in 2009, is owned by Lebanese holding company Malia although potential investors are ‘still welcome’ according to president Jacques Sarraf.

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