Hotel opens in battle-scarred city

Wed Jul 7, 2010 11:53am EDT
 
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SANAA (Reuters) - Rebel insurgency and civil war were not enough to deter Sultan Amin from opening a tourist hotel in the north Yemen city of Saada this week, even as the region teeters on the brink of renewed conflict.

"We had to stop every time the war was renewed. But two weeks ago we finally finished," the investor told Reuters of the two-star hotel, which cost nearly $450,000 and took three years to build.

"We don't expect foreigners to visit now, but I think that if the situation stays stable, maybe they will come."

Yemen's government agreed a truce in February with Shi'ite rebels to halt a war that has raged on-and-off since 2004 and displaced 350,000 people, but analysts say the shaky truce is unlikely to last unless Sanaa better addresses grievances.

Another hotel in the city of Saada met an untimely end when it was damaged by shelling after rebels took refuge inside during heavy fighting. A second continues to operate.

Amin, whose hotel will cater mainly to Saudi and Yemeni traders, said he was not worried about his hotel, the Jazeera Plaza, whose opening coincided with a flare-up of violence between rebels and government-allied tribes.

"I am confident that the war won't start again and that the situation will remain calm," he said. "The rest is up to God."

(Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari in Sanaa and Erika Solomon in Dubai, editing by Paul Casciato)