Fuelled by its oil and gas reserves, Iraqi Kurdistan’s capital is enjoying an unprecedented expansion in its economy. A city that was once Saddam Hussain’s pet hate, now has a per-capita income that is 50 per cent higher than the rest of the country. Some people are even calling it the next Dubai. We set out to see if this is all hype.

“In a sign of its growing economic importance, the region now hosts 17 consulates.”
This place is growing faster than Dubai. In four or five years Kurdistan will achieve what the Emirates did in 20. You will not be able to recognise it,” says Cem Saffari. Looking down from the top floor of the 23-storey hotel where he works, overlooking a landscape dotted with construction cranes and new housing complexes, Saffari doesn’t hide his pride and satisfaction when asked why he moved from a comfortable life in London to a job in Kurdistan, in the north-eastern region of Iraq. “It’s a growing environment, which I like, and pioneers always win,” he says. “There is a certain amount of risk in investing here, but we believe the turnover will be higher.”
Saffari is the Turkish business development manager of the luxury Divan Hotel in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Open since May, the hotel is the Turkish group’s first investment abroad. With 228 rooms priced from $500 (Dh1,836) to $15,000 a night, the hotel aims to host the growing number of business travellers willing to invest in a region that is experiencing one of the fastest rates of economic growth on earth. http://gulfnews.com/news/region/iraq...real-1.1057846