Doizelet:predicts that consumers will pay a premium for good hotels in Iran and Algeria. Doizelet:predicts that consumers will pay a premium for good hotels in Iran and Algeria.

Real estate and hotel development experts have identified Iraq, Libya, Algeria and Iran as emerging markets for hospitality development investment.

The topic was debated at last month’s Arabian Hotel Investment Conference (AHIC) advisory board meeting, which brought 40 of the event’s key stakeholders together at The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management in Dubai to suggest issues that the 2010 investment conference should cover.

During a panel session on predictions for 2010 prior to the closed-door meeting, MEED content director Sean Brierley said: “The two main countries that will be emerging will be Iraq, largely because although obviously the security issues there are still ongoing and the Amercian withdrawal next year is going to be quite dramatic and possibly traumatic for the country, they are coming quite a way now towards opening the environment to investment and there is a lot more interest now in the Iraqi economy.

“The other country I think probably will be Libya,” continued Brierley.

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“Very often these things are predicated on a change in political climate and there has been a lot of change in the political climate with regards to Libya and obviously in terms of the oil revenues, there’s a lot more focus now towards developing the service sector in Libya,” he said.

However, when questioned on his views about the impact of the political situation in Iraq on the hospitality industry, Brierley added: “I think I should qualify; I don’t think there is going to be an upturn in tourism in Iraq. I don’t think there is going to be package tourists hitting the beaches, but I do think there’s going to be a considerable amount of investment going forward because there are a number of changes and certainly the regulatory environment is changing, the political environment is changing, although there are flash points, still it has largely stabilised.

“Generally speaking, when you look relative to other economies in the Middle East, Iraq is one of the more fertile going forward for longer term investment and I think that certainly will start next year,” concluded Brierley.

Howarth HTL managing partner Philippe Doizelet agreed that Iraq and Libya had potential for hotel investment and said a similar argument applied to Algeria and Iran.