5-Star Hotels to Open in Gaza, West Bank

Jerusalem, Nov. 8 - Plans for a luxury hotel in northern Gaza and the opening of Ramallah's first five-star hotel, the Movenpick Ramallah, are the latest signs of economic growth in the Palestinian economy.

Gaza City already has three popular hotels—Al-Deira, Commodore Hotel Gaza and Grand Palace Hotel—that cater to an international clientele. The Nablus-based Palestinian multi-millionaire Munib al-Masri, the lead investor in the new hotel in Gaza, revealed plans for the hotel on Friday, Nov. 5.

The arrival of an international 5-star hotel in Ramallah, the administrative capital of the Palestinian Authority (PA) located six miles north of Jerusalem, is a testament to "political stability" that "highlights economic growth in an area previously associated with Palestinian militancy," reported The Guardian.

At the end of the second fiscal quarter of 2010, the number of hotel guests in the West Bank was up 42 percent compared to the same period in 2009.

If peace talks fail, renewed resistance and economic and political uncertainty are likely, Palestinian-American businessman Sam Bahour told The Guardian.

The Movenpick Ramallah is located a few minutes away from Ramallah's city center overlooking Jerusalem. It employs mainly local staff and has 172 rooms, pools, terraces, restaurants and business conference centers.

Ramallah is experiencing a building "boom," and property prices rose 30 percent during the last two years. The PA is building new roads to deal with the influx of traffic.

Other large industrial projects include the new Gaza Mall, the West Bank's first planned city of Rawabi—intended to be a high-tech and research hub, and the Ersal Center, which is "the first modern commercial center in Palestine." The Ersal Center is planned near the twin Palestinian cities Al-Bireh and Ramallah and is to include 66 percent office space for high-tech companies and recreational green spaces.

The West Bank's economy has shown significant growth in recent years: the per capita gross domestic product has increased steadily since 2007 and projections estimate it will be 60 percent higher than its 1994 level by 2013. The West Bank economy grew nine percent in the first half of the year while Gaza's economy expanded some 16 percent.

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