Iran is going to get its first international hotel projects since the Iranian Revolution, part of a bold move by a hotelier horning in on areas that are generally perceived as dangerous.
With the recent slackening of sanctions against Iran, the UAE-based chain Rotana has announced it hopes to have three hotels up and running in the next two or three years: two in Tehran, and one in Mashhad. They will be the first such projects since the Iranian Revolution, which deposed the Western-world-approved Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who owned a consortium of American hotels including three Hyatts. That fact, plus the ignition of a mistrust of foreign and American influence, caused the country to end all contracts with foreign hotel chains like Hilton, Intercontinental, Hyatt and Sheraton.
In May, Rotana's president Selim El Zyr hinted at plans to expand into Iran in an NBC News interview, lauding the country for its beauty and its underrated business sector.
Iran has got a huge untapped potential. Iran is a safe country, it's a beautiful country... You know, everybody is doing business in Iran. They put their head in the sand and they say, no, we're not. We know how this country is surviving. They are doing business.
Rotana also announced projects under way in other fraught yet emerging markets, including Afghanistan, Turkey, and Tanzania.