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David Fattal is no longer that young, but among the three biggest hotelier families in Israel - the Lewis family who own the Isrotel chain, the Federman's who own Dan Hotels, and Fattal - he is considered the newcomer on the block. But he is certainly now the liveliest, bravest and most interesting of them all.

Yesterday Fattal completed the deal to buy 12 hotels from Azorim for NIS 1 million, and Fattal Hotels now has 29 hotels in Israel, including seven in Eilat, with 7,500 rooms. The chain also owns 32 more hotels in Germany, Switzerland and Belgium.

Fattal has a Horatio Alger rags-to-riches story everyone can love: He didn't have a rich father, and started out as a busboy. Slowly he advanced through a series of jobs, until he became the manager of the Holiday Inn chain in Israel. But Fattal did not stop there, where almost everyone else would have. He identified the weaknesses of the hotel sector and plunged ahead at full speed.

First he managed hotels for other people who did not want to have to deal with angry unions, unprofessional staff and crafty travel agents. In recent years, after pulling together funds and investors who believed in him, Fattal built his own big hotel chain.

His business sense is well developed and he has made the most of hard times when others are suffering. His first big breakthrough was during the period of the second intifada and its accompanying recession in 2000-2002. The past two years, so difficult for tourism and the economy in general, have given him his second big break.

He is constantly busy with major events: opening a new hotel in Berlin or a boutique one in Ramat Hahayal, but in between he still manages a business with 7,200 employees.