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Five-star hotel to open in Iraq Luxury hotel in Iraq is among 40 new properties planned across the Middle East as hotel group Rotana defies the economic downturn. By Oliver Smith The ancient Citadel of Erbil is one attraction in the Northern Iraqi city PhotoMiddle-Eastern luxury hotel group Rotana has defied the global economic downturn by announcing plans to open 40 new properties across the region in the next four years. Related Articles · The new hotels include 17 in Saudi Arabia, 12 in Abu Dhabi, and a five-star, £37 million property in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil. Rotana, based in Abu Dhabi, will launch around 10 hotels each year until 2012, beginning with the 1,093ft Media City on Dubai’s Jumeirah strip, which will be completed next month. “Our aim is to have a property in every key city in the Middle East and North Africa,” said a spokeswoman for Rotana. “Companies in the region don’t seem to be so affected by financial problems around the world. Thanks in part to oil money there is very little decline in the number of new building projects and general expansion in the Middle East.” Rotana, which already boasts 24 properties in the Middle East, will open hotels in the Syrian cities of Latakia and Homs and the Omani cities of Salalah and Sohar, while properties will also be acquired in Bahrain, Beirut and Sharjah. Although few of these locations are likely to rival Dubai and Sharm-el-Sheikh as destinations for Britons seeking winter sun, a spokeswoman for Rotana believes that the new hotels will attract holidaymakers. She admits however that its new Iraqi hotel, the 205-room Rotana Erbil due to open in late 2009, will cater largely for business travellers . “The Kurdish northern region is relatively safe and the hotel will help rebuild the country’s economy,” she added. Middle-Eastern airlines also continue to expand rapidly during the economic downturn. Etihad Airways placed an order for 100 Airbus and Boeing planes earlier this year while last month Air Arabia announced plans to buy 10 new Airbus A320 aircraft. Emirates has ordered 60 new aircraft, FlyDubai has ordered 54 new aircraft while Qatar Airways has orders for 200 planes on its books. Dubai's second airport, which will be the world's largest with six runways, is to open next year. It will be capable of handling 120 million passengers a year - twice that of Heathrow. Abu Dhabi is to double the capacity of its airport to 20 million passengers by 2010, while a new £5 billion airport in Doha is expected to open in 2010, with a capacity to handle 24 million passengers a year.
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