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Iraq Reconstruction a Boom for Kuwait Hotel Industry; Gulf Emirate Poised to Exploit Strategic Location


Kuwait, February 2004 - With the major exhibition devoted to the reconstruction of Iraq taking place in Kuwait this month, the northern Gulf emirate is poised to exploit its strategic location as a gateway in to that country.

Kuwait International Fair, organisers of Rebuild Iraq 2004, claim more than 1,000 companies from 45 countries are taking part in the event, boosting Kuwait’s claim to provide an ideal staging post for those seeking contracts in every sector, from oil and gas through to education, sanitation, agriculture, medical services, IT, telecomms and hospitality.

According to Hannes Yaghi, general manager for Le Meridien in Kuwait, the exhibition will not only provide immediate business, but will also set the scene for continued economic growth in the emirate.

“There are 23 country pavilions from Europe, North America and Asia, as well as a major regional presence, and this demonstrates the appeal of Kuwait as the logical gateway in to Iraq,” he said.

“Reports that free trade talks are underway between the Iraqi administration and GCC authorities add even more weight to this argument, while the recent

Hannes Yaghi, general manager of Le Meridien
Hotels in Kuwait, is currently overseeing the
renovation and rebranding of Le Meridien Kuwait,
the former Ritz hotel in Kuwait, as well as the launch
of Le Meridien Towers, the group’s first 
Art + Tech hotel in the Middle East.
announcement of a call for bids for reconstruction work valued at US$5 billion are another indicator that reconstruction of Iraq is now well underway.”

American administrators have indicated that contracts valued at around US$13 billion will be awarded in 2004, with another tranche of $6 billion in 2005, while trade between Iraq and its GCC neighbours has increased dramatically following the removal of UN sanctions, including a recent deal with Kuwait to revive an old agreement to import gas from Iraq.

“Initially, we are seeing an influx of cars and electrical goods, for example, but there will be demand for much more as the infrastructure is repaired and manufacturing revived,” said Yaghi.

A recent report by Global Investment House stated that investor confidence toward and within Kuwait had increased dramatically as opportunities had opened up in both Iraq and neighbouring GCC countries – boosted by the decision to allow 100 per cent foreign ownership in certain sectors.

“Le Meridien’s joint venture with the Al A’amal group has been extremely timely, with plans for five properties and state-of-the-art meeting facilities coming to fruition just as Kuwait enters a boom period,” said Yaghi.

The group currently operates the former Ritz Kuwait and has a further two properties opening shortly:  “With refurbished and new hotels, we have introduced the latest wireless technology to enable business executives to keep in close contact with their principals, either in the Gulf region or overseas, and this is becoming a major selling point in the hospitality sector here,” Yaghi explained.

London-based Le Méridien is a global hotel group with a portfolio of over 135 luxury and upscale hotels (36,000 rooms) in 56 countries worldwide.  The majority of its properties are located in the world’s top cities and resorts throughout Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. 

Le Méridien
Also See: Le Meridien Hotels Pursues Seamless Rebranding for Kuwait Properties / December 2003
A’amal Hotels Company Appoints Le Meridien to Operate Ritz Kuwait; Will Convert to Art+Tech Designer Property / May 2003

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