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Luxury hotel planned for Iraqi capital

Rotana plans a five-star hotel in Baghdad's 'Green Zone by 2012.


May 28, 2010 9:19 by

Baghdad is known by its depiction in the news media of a city rife with war and mired with bombings and other violent terrorist attacks.

But there is another side to the Iraqi capital. There is an increasing international business presence. With business people now frequenting the city, it is this stream of visitors that the Saudi Arabian hotel firm Rotana wants to tap into.

Rotana plans to be the first to build a luxury hotel in Baghdad’s “Green Zone”.

The new five-star hotel will open its doors in 2012 with 250 rooms and suites, a swimming pool, a health club and several restaurants.

Room rates will start at $250 per night in the new Baghdad hotel, since operational costs are high as a result of security concerns in the volatile location.

Rotana’s Baghdad property will not be the company’s debut hotel in Iraq. The Rotana Arbil hotel, in the main city of the largely peaceful northern region, is also scheduled to open soon (sometime this summer).

While some business analysts say you cannot predict the outcome of such an investment since there are few reliable and current statistics on Baghdad, others believe the prospects are good.

Ali Al-Saffar, an expert on Iraq with the Economist Intelligence Unit, told The Media Line that the new venture would do well.

“I think it certainly will (be successful) if it will service the business community. I don’t imagine any tourists going there,” Al-Saffar told The Media Line.

“Quite a number of people are going there and there is a lack of five-star hotels that can cater to the needs [and] the standards of the business community,” he said.

The Economist Intelligence Unit estimates that Iraq’s gross domestic product growth rate was 4.5 percent in 2009, forecasting 6 percent in 2010, depending on the price of oil.

“What is going to be more important is the rise in foreign direct investment that is estimated to triple in 2010 to reach $3 billion,” Al-Saffar said.

Speaking to the Hilton hotel company, a spokesperson told The Media Line that Hilton does not have any plans for a hotel in Baghdad.

“Our development strategy across the Middle East is defined by a number of factors, including market dynamics, brand preference, owner relationships, demand and supply,” the spokesperson told The Media Line.

“Our goal has always been to have a Hilton property in every capital city around the world. Currently our regional portfolio and pipeline extends to UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.”

The US State Department has a travel warning in place for traveling to Iraq.

“The Department of State continues to warn US citizens of the risks inherent in travel to Iraq and recommends against all but essential travel within the country given the fluid security situation. Numerous insurgent groups remain active throughout Iraq. Civilian air and road travel within Iraq remains dangerous,” reads the warning.



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