Governor of Erbil Nawzad Hadi and Abdul Rahman Saif Al Ghurair, Chairman of Dubai Chamber inaugurate the Erbil office of Dubadi Chamber, January 2014. Photo: Business Wire
BARCELONA, Spain – Foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Kurdistan Region stands at $5.5 billion, and the United Arab Emirates is among the top investors, according to a senior Kurdish official.
The comments by Nawroz Mohamed Amin, vice chairwoman of the Kurdistan Investment Board, came at a panel discussion in Erbil of Kurdish officials and a visiting delegation from the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), which reported the remarks in a statement.
“Kurdistan has adopted a new policy to encourage investment in certain sectors which has resulted in a massive investment development leading to USD 5.5 billion FDI,” the statement quoted Amin as saying.
It reported her saying that, “UAE investments in the region stood at US$2.5 billion which is far below both sides’ capabilities and expectations.”
Amin called on UAE investors to increase their investments in the region and highlighted the attractions offered to foreign investors in Kurdistan, including land allotment at competitive prices, tax exemption and equal opportunities for local and foreign investors.
She pointed out that these facilities “are based on the free market economy and open-door policy for neighboring countries.”
DCCI President and CEO Hamad Buamim was quoted as saying that the recent opening of a third representative office in the Iraqi region “reaffirms the UAE business community’s desire to expand in the Kurdish market.”
Meanwhile, Fathi Al-Mudris, economic advisor at the Kurdistan Ministry of Trade and Industry, said that the UAE is the seventh-largest investor in Iraqi Kurdistan.
He also called on Dubai companies to assist in developing Kurdistan’s four industrial zones, saying there are already 134 UAE companies in Kurdistan, the statement said.
There are reportedly 2,724 foreign companies and 17,160 Kurdish companies in total operating in the autonomous enclave, he disclosed.
Al-Mudris also said that per capita income in the Kurdistan Region was $7,000, and that it is expected to grow to $10,000 in the next four years.
A recent authoritative study compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit said the Kurdistan region offers a “stable base and gateway” to the rest of Iraq and encouraged UAE businesses to seize business opportunities in the energy, construction, real estate and tourism sectors.
Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, has earned the title of the “Dubai of Iraq” and has been named the tourist capital of the Arab World in 2014.