The road approaching the Basra Gateway hotel in southern Iraq crosses a landscape so blighted with trash and spilled crude oil, which shimmers in gigantic pools in the sand, that it is difficult to imagine any guests ever passing this way.
Basra Gateway is one of the fledgling efforts by Iraqi companies to make good commercial use of hundreds of recently abandoned American military bases — usually desolate, off-putting ensembles of concrete on the edges of towns. The hotel’s developer and operator, the Kufan Group, is hoping to lure executives from oil and oil-services companies that operate in the nearby fields. The trailers-cum-hotel rooms go for about $190 a night, and they can be booked only in blocks in advance.
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