In its debut project at the Kurdish region of Iraq, Emaar Properties is hoping to create 45,000 job opportunities in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The project cost is around US$3 billion Downtown Erbil development.
The developer is aiming to create an economic hub and it will capitalize on an economic boom in the same region. In an interview in the Kurdish capital of Erbil, Mohamed Alabbar, the chairman, stated that it is a part of the company’s global strategy and investing in Erbil is a perfect fit to that strategy. He added, “We are quite confident that Downtown Erbil will be a true hub for business in Erbil, promote the local economy, bring in investments and create hundreds of jobs for youth.”
Downtown Erbil is a mixed-use project featuring twin towers, residential and commercial space, hotels, malls and parks, covering 541,000 square meters. Mr Alabbar also remarked that the work process has already started. Emaar would use a combination of its own funds and bank financing, he added. The project is expected to last for five years over three phases.
The “business friendly approach of the Kurdish Regional Government, and especially its legislation policies” had fulfilled the requirements for investors from the Arabian Gulf, Mr Alabbar said.
The Kurdish region of Iraq has been often recognized as the last oil frontier region. Granted semi-autonomy under Iraq’s post-Saddam Hussein constitution, the KRG has welcomed in international oil companies to develop its vast resources.
The region has shown significant business growth and economical boom in recent times and that is why all companies and foreign investors are aiming to invest in this region. Smaller companies have followed the lure of the lucrative contracts offered by the Kurds, and the oil majors ExxonMobil, Total and Chevron have recently followed suit.
The region’s increased oil wealth, coupled with improved stability and security, has attracted significant amounts of foreign investment across all sectors. Emaar’s project is the first property development carried out by a UAE firm in Erbil, the regional capital and a market that has been mostly penetrated by Turkish developers. In June, Emaar was understood to be reviewing a $2bn contract to build a touristic city project in the Kurdish city of Suleimaniyah, a government official told Bloomberg.
Nechirvan Barzani, the prime minister of the KRG, stated, “We more than ever have witnessed destruction and demolition of our homes, cities and country and because of this reason we highly value reconstruction.” He also added that the project will be a source of pride and it will provide plenty of job opportunities in the region, thus helping the living standard of the people in the region to get stabilized.
The prime minister appealed to Kurdish youth to consider opportunities in the private sector. “Unfortunately people think the government should be doing everything and this may affect our development,” Mr Barzani said. “It is time for you, our dear youth, to consider different prospect and get in touch with companies and jobs in the private sector.”
Kurds living under the poverty line in Iraq stand at 3.5 per cent, Mr Barzani said, compared with 4.7 per cent in 2007. That compared with 19 per cent for the rest of Iraq, the prime minister added.