With news last week of soaring profits — peaking at 50 per cent — Dubai property giant Emaar Properties isn’t resting on its laurels just yet; it has unveiled its new world-class development that is to come up in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, creating 35,000 jobs for locals there in the process.
Spanning 541,000sqm and taking inspiration from the UAE’s iconic Downtown Duba i — which hosts the world’s largest mall, tallest a building and tallest dancing fountains — Downtown Erbil , estimated to cost more than $3 billion, promises to be a fully-integrated, mixed-use facility, offering a hub for both business and entertainment.
Speaking at a Press conference held in Kurdistan’s capital Erbil on Sunday where details of the project were unveiled, Emaar Properties chairman Mohamed Alabbar said money to fund the project would come from remaining capital, bank loans and pre-sales revenue — with Sunday marking the commencement of pre-sales registration for 276 residential apartments to be located in Downtown Erbil. On the sidelines of the event, Alabbar shrugged off comments that it was expensive developments such as these that cause mass inflation, which in turn affects local citizens.
“These are arguments you can throw at any city, but it’s about the overall economic environment of the city... like job creations, government programmes... if they are not in harmony, that’s when problems arise,” he said.
A once war-torn country, Iraq — the Kurdistan region in particular — is now one of the fastest-growing economies in the Middle East, recently recording double-digit growth, and Alabbar says it reminds him of his hometown, Dubai.
“There is a strong sense of optimism and many opportunities here. The people are diverse and ambitious,” he said, adding the project is a symbol of the growing relationship between Emaar and the Kurdistan region.
Speaking to Khaleej Times on whether Emaar were going to capitalise on the “Downtown” brand worldwide, Alabbar referred to Emaar’s Uptown Cairo development.
“That proves we’re not really going with the Downtown brand. But if you do a job right, I don’t care what you call it, people will come. We want to create the heart of a city. This is something very close to our hearts and we will continue developing this hub across other cities in the future,” he said, without revealing any details of upcoming projects.
“Emaar is a confidence builder; we’re not really in the real estate business, we give cities life,” he said.
Also speaking at the unveiling was the region’s Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, who said the new development will not only be a source of pride for the country’s people, but also a source of income, with 35,000 jobs to be created as a result of the project.
“As a country that has witnessed destruction, there is nothing better for me than to talk about building homes for our people,” he said, making reference to the similarities between Dubai and Kurdistan.
“One day, we hope to be a world leader in infrastructure like Dubai.”