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Gulf hotel operators open hotels in high-risk Iraq

altMay 8 - Hotel operators in the Gulf region have obtained a first-mover advantage over international competitors by opening hotels in Baghdad, Karbala, and Erbil.   Gulf investors have shown a growing interest in Iraq, with the number of projects by regional company’s year-on-year up 87 percent in 2009.   Projects worth about $230 billion (Dh 844 billion) are currently in progress in Iraq, 35 percent of which are dedicated to construction.  

GCC operators seem to be targeting a high risk, high return scenario. “We’re worried of course. But we hope that by the time we open our property in Baghdad, the political tensions will clear up.  If not, we will still operate.  There are over 300,000 United Nation suppliers and contractors needing a safe place to stay” said Salim Al Zyr, president and chief executive of Abu Dhabi based Rotana hotels.  Al Zyr joked that “we’re not going to wear any army fatigues.”

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