Monday, May 21, 2007


Gulf investors interested in Kurdistan

Economy, Kurdistan
With stability, peace and a willingness to develop the area, the Kurdish Regional Government put down the Kurdish Regional Investment Law No 4, which was issued in mid-2006. According to Eamad Jamil Mazouri, the Kurdish Regional Government's General Representative to the UAE, the process to attract investment to Kurdistan started as early as 1992. According to Mazouri, when Nechirvan Barzani became prime minister in 1998, he introduced a whole new vision.
"He was highly interested in Dubai as a superb model of a dynamic fast-growing metropolis," Mazouri said. After the end of Saddam Hussain's regime, Iraq voted on the constitution that approved a federal model for Iraq. In 2005, the Kurdish region constitution was issued.
The recent months have witnessed a growing interest in Kurdistan. In a recent economic conference in the UAE, a number of Gulf investors expressed their interest in energy supply, road and water projects, Mazouri said. "We have actually finalised some contracts [with UAE entity] such as Dana Gas, Sharjah, which signed agreements with the Kurdistan Regional Government to study gas development and utilisation potential in Iraqi Kurdistan," he said. The total cost of the project is $400 million.
Dana Gas and its Crescent Petroleum affiliate will launch an industrial gas complex concept called "Kurdistan Gas City", designed to promote private sector investment and employment. Under a separate service contract, Dana Gas will develop, process and transport gas from the Khor Mor field on a fast-track basis. Dana Gas will also appraise Chemchemal gas field, which is needed to supply power plants under construction near the cities of Erbil and Suleymania, by January 2008.
The Kurdish regional government may also establish a free zone to attract more investments. "The free zone will be established close to the Kurdish-Turkish borders in Zakho" Mazouri said. A new $300 million airport is being built in the city of Erbil, which will be able to handle the biggest aircraft in the world, including the Russian Antonov 225 cargo plane and the American C-5 Galaxy. The airport's new runway 18/36 will be one of the longest in the world at 4,800 metres.
Additionally, the Iraqi Kurdish regional government and a Dubai firm are also to build a $400 million "Media City" in Erbil. Under the deal to create the Erbil City Media Company, the regional government will have a 60 per cent stake and a Dubai-based TV and cinema production company will hold the remaining 40 per cent. Six satellite television stations currently air from Kurdistan, which is home to hundreds of foreign companies, including 400 Turkish ones. This project is to see light in two years' time.
The Kurdistan Company for Real Estate Development presented the specifications draft for the construction of a mall in Kurdistan valued at $120 million and on an area of 104,000 square metres; it is expected to be completed within four years. According to the plan proposed, the mall will include a hotel, a commercial offices complex, big retail market, large shopping centre, three buildings of residential apartments and a recreational area.
Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq have become even more dramatic. The plains around Erbil are the location for luxury housing developments. They have names like the British Village, which resembles a gated-California suburb, and the Dream City, which will have a conference centre, supermarket and a American-style school.
The Turkish developers of Naz City, a high-rise condominium complex, are trying to sell house-proud Kurds on modern apartment living. An American company is planning to build Iraq's first ski resort in the mountains near the Turkish and Iranian borders. Mazouri was optimistic about the future. "The new policy has opened great opportunities for Kurdistan Al Iraq. We will soon see a tourist destination open to all the people in the area, a prosperous entity with open arms for all," he said with a smile.

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