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Kurdistan’s answer to the Burj Al Arab
This 39-floor building is being touted as northern Iraq’s take on Dubai’s famous ‘seven star’ hotel. But critics say the development doesn’t serve the needs of locals.
March 16, 2010 6:44 by Tanya Goudsouzian
It is being touted as Iraqi Kurdistan’s answer to the Burj Al Arab, Dubai’s ‘seven-star’ hotel.
On paper, this statement might seem an aberration for those who are familiar with the dusty, small towns of northern Iraq. Yet the 39-floor concrete structure has been popularly dubbed “Burj Suleimanieh,” even though the owner has already announced that it will be “The Grand Millennium Suleimanieh,” affiliated with the high-end British franchise.
Construction work began in June 2006. It was originally slated for completion by summer of 2010, but the deadline was pushed back by a year due to unforeseen logistical snags.
The relatively secure Iraqi Kurdistan region is still considered a war zone, says the project manager, Amer Jawad. It has been challenging to bring in the foreign expertise required to meet the lofty standards and specifications, he says.
The hotel, designed by an Abu Dhabi-based architecture firm, will contain five executive floors, one revolving restaurant, and two swimming pools. Finding skilled labor was also an issue, says Jawad, adding that many of the workers had to be brought from Baghdad or India.
None of this has thwarted the ambitions of Farouk Mala Mustafa, chairman of Farouk Holding Group and owner of telecom giant Asia Cell, which, with an 8,000-strong staff, is the second biggest employer after the regional government. He also owns two cement factories, several other hotels, and a medium-cost housing complex called the Goyzha Project on the outskirts of the city.
“[Mustafa] is doing this because he loves his city; his goal is to serve the people of Suleimanieh,” says Warzer Sarwar, his nephew and the project’s resident engineer.
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