Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Iraqi Kurdistan from Dubai stands at $3.5 billion (Dh12.8 billion), with the government looking to attract further investment, according to Nawroz Mawlood Amin, Kurdistan’s Minister of Municipality and Tourism.
Emaar and Meydan are the biggest foreign investors in Kurdistan in terms of business value, followed by Turkey and Lebanon, Amin said.
The Kurdistan Investment Board, which was set up in 2006, issued 720 licences for local and foreign investments worth $42 billion over the last eight years.
FDI represent 20 per cent of the total value of these investments in the last eight years, with 10 per cent being joint venture investments and the other 70 per cent coming from local businesses, she said.
Industrial sector investment accounts for the lion’s share at 32 per cent of total investment, followed by tourism (16 per cent) and trade (8 per cent) relatively, according to Nawroz.
During the Annual Investment Meeting, the government of Kurdistan identified investment opportunities worth $10 billion mostly in the industrial, tourism, hospitality, construction, infrastructure, agriculture, health care, education and transportation sectors.
However, overall investment has fallen by almost 60 per cent in Kurdistan as result of the violence in most Iraqi cities following the rise of Daesh, as well as the economic and financial restrictions placed by the government of the former prime minister Nouri Al Maliki, she said.
Nawroz said that Kurdistan has a great investment potential, with its government currently revising laws and regulation to attract more investors.
As a result of its vast oil reserves and production capacity, Kurdistan has become a powerful player in the world energy market — something that allowed the region to thrive economically in a short time.
Mawlawi Jabar Wahab, head of the General Board of Tourism, said that the government of Kurdistan offers good incentives for foreign investors by providing land at minimal, tax-free prices and allowing for freehold ownership for the first ten years.
“However, there is still of bureaucracy in business registration as it might take six months to complete, an obstacle [that] should be eliminated to ease investment across Kurdistan,” Amin said.
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