Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Luxury hotel inaugurated in Damascus

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad Wednesday inaugurated in Damascus a new 100-million-dollar luxury Four Seasons hotel, whose principal owner is Saudi tycoon billionaire Prince Al-Walid bin Talal.

One of the world's wealthiest men, Talal owns some 200 hotels, including Paris' George V and New York's Plaza. At the inauguration ceremony, he paid tribute to the country, saying he would "continue to invest in Syria despite the pressures" on it.

Syria, which contains a wealth of archeological and historical sites, is experiencing a new upsurge in tourism, even though it is under pressure from the West over its policies in the Middle East.

The 18-story Four Seasons, decorated in Ottoman, Persian and Syrian styles, is located in the center of the capital looking out on the Great Mosque. It has 297 rooms, 12 residential apartments, three restaurants and a spa. Talal owns 65 percent of the hotel, while the balance is held by the ministry of tourism and the Damascus municipality. –– AFP