- Feb 6, 2010
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The al-Mashtal doesn't have tourists and sits next to a military training camp, but its very existence is a symbol of optimism
Gaza's first five-star hotel provides luxury and hope amid the blockades | World news | The GuardianThe al-Mashtal is Gaza's first and only five-star hotel, an ambitious project in a place where there are no tourists and around 70% of the population lives below the poverty line. After a troubled history the hotel is in the process of a gradual opening; the early signs are that it faces a challenging future.
Construction began in the mid-1990s in the optimistic days following the signing of the Oslo accords when many believed lasting peace and a Palestinian state were realistic prospects. Funded by a consortium of Palestinian businessmen and Gulf state backers, it was originally planned as an office block but the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada brought work to a halt.
The building, redesignated as a hotel to be operated by the upmarket chain Mövenpick, was eventually completed in 2006. A year later Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip following bloody battles with their rivals Fatah, and Mövenpick pulled out. The hotel was mothballed.
Then a year ago ArcMed, a Spanish group, agreed to take over the management and open the hotel.