A Peaceful Iraq
For many people the first thing that comes to mind when you hear Iraq, unfortunately, is war and destruction. Considering the country has been in a state of constant conflict since the US invasion in 2003 and the war with ISIS, this would be an expected and understandable association. Although US troops have withdrawn from Iraq and ISIS has almost been defeated, security in many areas remains a concern. Travel to Iraq, by most countries, is deemed to be done on essential grounds only and is not generally recommended.
However, to the north of the conflict areas of Baghdad and Mosul lies a region that remains almost untouched by the horrors witnessed in large parts of Iraq; The Kurdistan Region.
The Constitution of Iraq recognizes Kurdistan Iraq as a Federal Entity that is governed by a coalition government known as the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). In fact, the Constitution declares both Kurdish and Arabic to be the official languages of Iraq. The KRG also happens to be a fantastic representation of the harmony and diversity of the area; the government is made up of Kurds, Arabs, Syriacs, Turkmen, Yazidis, Assyrians and Chaldeans. This has contributed to both ethnic and religious minorities enjoying not just tolerance and acceptance but the freedom to practice their religions and national traditions freely and without fear of suppression.
The freedoms enjoyed by all ethnic and religious groups also extend to languages spoken and learned. There is no pressure for non-Kurdish speakers to learn Kurdish (even after years of living there). Parents can send their children to Arabic, Kurdish and even Turkish schools with no pressure to educate them in the “official” language of the region.
The Economics of the Region
Economically, Kurdistan Iraq has in recent times been open to Foreign Investment. In 2006, laws were put in place to increase FDI in the region by offering incentives like land ownership, 10-year tax holidays and the easy repatriation of profits. Unfortunately, it was hit by crisis between 2014 and 2017 that was caused by a multitude of factors – their share of the National Budget being slashed, the war against ISIS and measures from Baghdad that were in retaliation to a referendum that saw about 90% of Kurds voting for independence from Iraq (Baghdad closed the region to international flights). Foreign Investors seemed to leave Kurdistan in droves during this time due to concerns of the fighting getting too close to the capital of Erbil.
But, in the early months of 2018, tensions with Baghdad eased and the airports were opened to international flights again. The economy of Kurdistan Iraq went on an upswing. Investments in Kurdistan Iraq in 2017 were estimated to total $712 million; that number increased to $3.6 billion in 2018. This figure comprises not just the 23 different countries that now have investments in the region, but also of local investors who are keen to invest in their homeland and are looking to the KRG to support them in doing so. We’ve seen the signs ourselves – we’ve been legalising more and more documents for Iraq every year.
Looking to Prosperity
There are signs of both improvement and hope for the region of Kurdistan Iraq economically. The biggest currently, seems to be the growing foreign investment and increased oil prices. It will take time, action, transparency and security for significant advances and developments for the region to prosper.
In the meantime, if you are looking to relocate or start a business in Iraq, our office can assist with the attestation of any required documents. Request a quote here or give us a call
on +971 (0)4 556 7338.