L-R: Rudi Jagersbacher, president, Hilton Worldwide, MEA and Stephen Lari, principal of owners, The Claremont Group L-R: Rudi Jagersbacher, president, Hilton Worldwide, MEA and Stephen Lari, principal of owners, The Claremont Group

Hilton Worldwide will open its first hotel in Iraq, Double Tree Suites by Hilton Erbil, by the end of 2013.

The international hotel chain will open the property under a management agreement with New York-based real estate developer The Claremont Group.

Comprising 200 serviced apartments, the hotel located in the capital city of Iraq’s Kurdistan – close to the recently-expanded Erbil International Airport - will target long staying guests.

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It will feature a business centre, health club, swimming pool, eight meeting rooms, two restaurants and a lobby lounge and bar.

“I’m delighted to be bringing our brand to such an important city in the Middle East. DoubleTree by Hilton has built its success on providing high standards of service and quality facilities in gateway cities, which makes it the ideal choice for Erbil’s thriving community,” said Rob Palleschi, global head, DoubleTree by Hilton brand.

“Erbil’s commercial status is increasing year on year and the city has a growing reputation as an up-and-coming tourist destination. We have every confidence that the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Erbil will prove popular with the growing number of business and leisure travellers,” commented Rudi Jagersbacher, area president, Middle East & Africa, Hilton Worldwide

Around 200 jobs will be created at the hotel and the company’s focus will be on employing people locally.

“There is so much potential in Kurdistan and particularly the city of Erbil. We’ve seen travel to the region grow considerably over the past couple of years. If that trend is going to continue then further infrastructure is required to support the industry,” said Stephen Lari, principal of The Claremont Group.

“We’d like to commend the leadership of the Kurdistan Regional Government for fostering the secure and pro-investment environment that has been the catalyst for the region’s steady growth and prosperity. By making the first major American-sponsored investment in the region’s hospitality sector, we are firm believers in the Kurdistan success story,” he added.

National Geographic recently listed Kurdistan, Iraq, among its Top 20 best Trips and the New York Times travel section listed Kurdistan in its 41 places to visit for 2011.